General Question

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

What's wrong with me?

Asked by SadieMartinPaul (8997points) August 4th, 2014

For the past 30 minutes or so, my heart’s been racing. I’m hyperventilating (I keep trying to take slow, steady breaths, but it’s not working), and I’m shaking uncontrollably.

Is this a panic attack? Is there anything I can do besides let it run its course?

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31 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Did it come on fast or slow and is there a feeling of impending doom?

hominid's avatar

Have you ever had a panic attack? If not, why not just visit your doc/clinic?

If you want to calm your hyperventilating, do one thing: make sure you are exhaling all the way.
– breathe in normally
– hold it
– breathe out, slowly (through pursed lips) until you can’t blow out any more. Then blow more out.
– breathe in through your nose slowly
– hold it almost as long as you can
– breathe out, slowly (through pursed lips) until you can’t blow out any more. Then blow more out.

You’ll likely start to feel better after a few cycles.

rojo's avatar

Could be Tachycardia. My wife has it. She takes an aspirin and sits down for a while

rojo's avatar

We finally came to the conclusion that many times her episodes are caused by dehydration. It doesn’t have to be severe dehydration, just being out doing yardwork in hot weather will sometimes trigger it if she has not drunk enough fluids.

rojo's avatar

Could be that the water that she takes the aspirin with does as much good as the aspirin.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe It came on very suddenly, while I was making a quick stop at the market. But, it might be something that’s been building. Tomorrow morning, my husband’s having fairly complicated and delicate surgery. I’d just come from visiting my mother, who’s in late-state Alzheimer’s and always takes it out of me. And, this past Friday, I was physically and emotionally attacked (unprovoked) by an aggressively insane man.

@rojo I’m going to try an aspirin. Thank you for the suggestion.

Coloma's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul Awww…you have a lot on your plate, I think it is a major anxiety attack.
Maybe see YOUR doctor and get a mild anti-anxiety medication like a low dose Xanax. I would, have used them before during times of great stress and they really help without any overall effects. Just takes the edge off. Wish I had some myself right now as my stress level is off the charts too. Good luck, breathe and do whatever you need to do for YOU!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul I had a couple of allergic reactions that had similar symptoms, but they came on slowly, and there was no sense of doom. I was having trouble breathing. That’s how they were able to rule out panic attacks and put me on a corticosteroid spray that eliminated those.

rojo's avatar

But, just to be on the safe side:

What are the early warning signs of a heart attack?
If there are warning signs, they include the following sensations: episodes of chest discomfort, often a squeezing sensation in the center of the chest, sometimes the discomfort is felt in the left arm, especially radiating towards the 5th finger. There can also be numbness in the arm. There can be associated nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating or loss of energy.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I just went to the kitchen to take an aspirin and drink a big glass of water. While I was there, I tried to put away some clean dishes. My arms were so weak and “rubbery,” I couldn’t even lift small items..

@rojo The symptoms don’t seem to add up to a heart attack. I don’t feel any pressure in my chest, and the weakness is all over my body.

I’ve never had an anxiety attack. Maybe it’s finally my turn.

janbb's avatar

Try deep slow breaths and see if they help. If not, call your doctor.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The chest pressure can be as subtle as indigestion in women. Can you check your pulse?

rojo's avatar

My wife gets that way. Even when the arrhythmia stops she feels like she is in a weakened state. Sometimes it takes a good nights sleep to make her feel “right” again.

Stress can most assuredly bring on arrhythmia.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe ” Can you check your pulse?”

240. I exercise regularly, so my resting heart rate is usually about 60–70.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

your pulse rate is 240 beats a minute?

jca's avatar

Lay on the floor and call an ambulance.

hominid's avatar

Diagnosis of this type via fluther makes me very uncomfortable. @SadieMartinPaul, you’re likely fine. But I’m not sure if you are familiar with panic attacks. Those of us who have suffered from them will know when we get one. But the symptoms are often similar to more serious things. So, unless you know you are having one, could you please seek medical assistance?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That is way too high. Do what JCA said.

jca's avatar

leave your door open. The paramedics need access to your house.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

At the very least call your Dr. fast.

jca's avatar

If you call your doctor, you will very likely not get a hold of him and have to wait, maybe hours, for him to call you back. If you still feel symptoms like you described above, do not hesitate to call 911.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Sounds like a major panic attack. Any ringing in the ears or numbness? Obviously you have burned out psychologically. Xanax is my back-up when it happens. You must be feeling better since it first hit you, right?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

PLEASE WHEN YOU CALM DOWN AND FEEL BETTER DROP US A LINE! Lots of us here have been through this kind of thing and can put ourselves in your shoes.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Thank you, everyone, for your concern, kind words, and good advice.

The heartbeat’s down to 120, and I’m breathing normally. I’m still light-headed and all weak and “rubbery,” but the worst seems to be over.

I lay down on the bed (“lay” is the simple past tense of “to lie,” and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I looked it up) and watched “Judge Judy” for a mindless distraction (TV’s version of Xanax, I suppose).

Everyone who recommended a 911 call made the right suggestion; please forgive me for staying here and not doing the sensible thing. I do think that I had a massive anxiety attack, a first-time experience. Wow…I don’t envy anyone who goes through that regularly.

filmfann's avatar

This happened to my daughter last year. She went to the hospital, thinking she was having a panic attack, but it turned out she just changed brands of coffee, and she used too much.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul just take it easy and make a point of getting a check-up soon. Probably just a one off experience due to pressure.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@filmfann That’s interesting. I’ve had extreme dizzy spells, to the point of almost passing out, due to changes in my caffeine intake before – but never such an increase in heart rate.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

If you haven’t gone to the hospital yet and you’re still around to read these, you need to find a way to get yourself there.

Due to a very, very bad injury I had, and then experiencing the entire left side of my body going numb from head to toe – it threw me into the first panic attack I had ever experienced a few years ago. The numbness, combined with the inability to breathe, combined with a heart rate of 180, made me think I was dying. I had one panic attack so severe that my lips went numb and started turning blue, so you need to take them seriously.

Please let us know that you’re alright, if you can. I’m sending good thoughts your way.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. I didn’t go to the hospital; I’m still here and feeling almost all better (if a bit weak and wobbly). Paul was concerned and came home from work earlier than usual. I think he held back on expressing his true feelings; he wanted to keep things calm and avoid upsetting me again.

Your panic attacks sound so disabling. You’re right; as I learned today, they’re to be taken seriously. I’ll get a medical checkup soon.

jca's avatar

A therapist told me once that anxiety is the cousin of depression (thankfully, I had neither anxiety nor depression, but we were discussing someone who did).

Strauss's avatar

Along with the conventional moves, you might consider a time or two, if you have the inclination and/or the availability. Just sayin’.

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