With the advent of the Internet and ready access to medical information, both professional and lay, researching illnesses and their symptoms is just a few mouse clicks away. This easy availability of information sometimes makes for arm-chair doctors when the real thing is necessary. It’s important to rationally review your symptoms and, if ever in doubt, seek medical advice.
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Chest That Feels Heavy
A chest that has a heavy or constricted feeling may be symptomatic of many illnesses such as a simple chest cold, angina or a pneumothorax. A heavy feeling, pressure or tightness in the chest may also be a side effect from quitting smoking and is a common symptom among asthmatics.
Occasional sleepiness is normal for everyone, but unexplained fatigue, both sudden and chronic, may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue. Fatigue is often linked to psychological issues, lifestyle changes or medical problems, and it’s important to rule out obvious reasons, such as lack of sleep, alcohol abuse or medications. Some medical conditions causing fatigue are depression, heart disease, diabetes, COPD and anemia.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath may include a suffocating feeling or as if everything inside is tight and air cannot pass through. Anxiety may coincide with not being able to catch your breath, causing increased heart rate and breathing, thus exacerbating the overall response. According to MayoClinic.com, the most common causes of shortness of breath are related to the lungs or the heart. Several illnesses associated with shortness of breath include heart attack, obesity, anemia, asthma, hyperventilation and pulmonary edema. Strenuous exercise your body is not accustomed to, high altitude or extreme cold may also contribute to feel short of breath.
Individually each symptom -- chest heaviness, tiredness and shortness of breath -- could be the result of numerous ailments. However, the list narrows if the symptoms are felt simultaneously. The American Heart Association and MayoClinic.com list all three symptoms as possible signs of a heart attack. The American Lung Association lists fatigue and shortness of breath as symptoms of pneumonia. But experiencing some or all of these symptoms does not mean you have a serious illness and only your doctor can diagnose the true cause.
When experiencing some or all of these symptoms, it’s important to disclose any information to your doctor to determine the cause. Make a list of your symptoms and include descriptions and frequency. If you experience any pain be certain to describe the intensity and location. If you are concerned at all that you could be having a heart attack, seek medical care immediately rather than scrutinize every symptom, wasting valuable time.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- MayoClinic.com: Shortness of Breath Causes
- MayoClinic.com: Asthma
- “Addictive Behaviors”; Reports of Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms Over a 21 Day Period of Abstinence; Cummings, et al; May 1985
- MayoClinic.com: Fatigue Causes
- American Heart Association: Symptoms and Diagnosis of a Heart Attack
- MayoClinic.com: Heart Attack Symptoms: Know What Signals a Medical Emergency
- American Lung Association: What Are the Symptoms of Pneumonia?