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waking up gasping for air as I fall asleep (Page 1)

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baffle I have a problem with waking up gasping for air, as if I stopped breathing, as I drift off to sleep. This has ONLY happened to me 3 times in the past month and only in the early or beginning stages of sleep. It also occurred once while I was in Tennessee 8 years ago. I'm under a lot of stress now and was when I was in Tennessee too. I was wondering if anyone knows if this could be the problem or has experienced the same problem. I have done a lot of research on the problem and everything from stress, to normal occurrences as we fall asleep or central sleep apnea have come up. I'm aware of the episodes, so was thinking that apnea isn't the problem. I have also had members of my family listen to my breathing as I'm asleep and they say there are absolutely no problems with it. Its causing me to have more breathing problems and to keep me awake at night. PLEASE HELP!!!
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First Helper MaynardFP
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Users who thank mariep for this post: Panne123 

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replied December 9th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
Do you feel like someone is stopping you from breathing and you can't do anything to help yourself, as you fall asleep?
Are you experiencing an abrupt waking from sleep with sweating, rapid heart rate, trembling, shortness of breath and hyperventilating, flushing or chills, and a sense of impending doom?
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replied May 18th, 2011
hello this happens alot now they say its relate dto heart failur but havent gone to a doc in a few years just for axixety
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replied May 18th, 2011
yes exactly help i hate it
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replied December 10th, 2008
to MandMs
I wake up gasping for air, not breathing..along with sweating and rapid heart rate..I was also rather pale, however I do have episodes of flushing and chills on occasion. I just got out of the hospital after 3 days for what they call an anxiety attack. My pulse ox was checked during sleep while I was there and never got below 96. When I was awake it was between 98-100. I had numerous blood studies, chest ct, chest x-ray, echo, some test for blood clots and stress test. All were negative and all bloodwork perfect. I'm thinking its brain related now, like a tumor in my brain stem. I had a cat scan on my brain 8 months ago for intermittent tremors, flushing and internal chills and that was negative as well...I also have feelings like I can't take a deep breath and now this stupid problem with the gasping for air during sleep...
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replied December 11th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
This kind of "events" that can appear during the day or even during the night sleep, are known as panic attacks (episodes of intense fear that occur "out of the blue," associated with a number of different psychological and physiological symptoms).
People with panic disorder may report just few of them and different feelings when having another attack.
Brain scans and blood tests are not effective in diagnosing panic disorder.
Many patients experiencing a panic attack for the first time rush to an emergency room complaining of chest pain, shortness of breath, flushes or sweating, and rapid, irregular heartbeat.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder, when someone suffers anxiety in severe or prolonged form that, usually, interferes with everyday life.
Acctually, panic attacks are often experienced by sufferers of anxiety disorders and other psychological conditions involving anxiety.
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replied December 11th, 2008
MandMs
that would all be believable except my so called attack lasted for 7 hours even after they gave me some lorazepam...all that did was calm the chills down and the bp slightly....the heart rate remained in the low 100's until i feel asleep and woke up the next morning
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replied December 15th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
A panic attack typically lasts ten minutes, or, somewhere between 1-20 minutes.
More severe panic attacks may form a series of episodes waxing and waning every few minutes, lasting for a period of up to two hours, only to be ended by physical exhaustion and sleep.
In conditions of chronic anxiety, one panic attack can roll into another, leading to nervous exhaustion over a period of hours or even days.

Many medical illnesses can cause symptoms that mimic panic attacks, including heart disease, asthma, cerebrovascular disease, epilepsy, hormone abnormalities, infections and disturbances in levels of certain blood chemicals.


Do you get similar attacks during day, too?
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replied December 16th, 2008
MandMs
I do get episodes during the day too..thats what landed me in the hospital for 3 days. I have been doing find now that I'm on the lorazepam and beta blockers except I still get up at night feeling like I stopped breathing every now and again. I have read that everyone experiences episodes of apnea as they fall asleep and some while they are asleep and its considered perfectly normal. I don't know what other test they can run...All tests were normal....only thing that wasn't done was an MRI of the brain, but 8 months ago a cat scan was and it was negative.
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replied January 2nd, 2009
Abrubt awake at beginning of sleep
hey guys...I just wanted to write a bit on my situation. I have been to the doctors a few times for attacks in the last 5 years and they say its just anxiety disorder. I always feel like I have to take big deep breaths and sometimes it catches. I get tingling sensations in my fingers and feet at night and when I close my eyes for a bit i jump up several times cause it feels like im gonna faint or get light headed. can this happen night after night. I did like xanax when i was on it but i didn't want to take meds. I drink alcohol and thought it would effect my body together. im trying to beat this thing on my own but was wondering if this is common. I have tons of other symptoms that i feel all the time and i thinkn i have lung cancer or a terminal illness. I have worried about dying at a young age and i don't know what to do. Im 28 and am in shape but feel like i am slowly dying from something.
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replied January 2nd, 2009
mixxxer21
I feel the same way you do. I have all these crazy symptoms and new ones keep popping up. The latest one is a huge, quick gasp for breath as I wake up...like I just ran a marathon. I still have the periodic episodes of apnea, difficulty taking a deep breath, tremors, internal shakes, flushing, eye problems from blurry vision to almost seeing double (that only happened once) and so on. The doctors did a cat scan on me 9 months ago and all was fine. I'm convinced the cat scan missed something, as I have read that MRI's are much more accurate than cat scans are. My symptoms are not constant and come and go, sometimes with several months passing in between. All Dr's including the neurologists on here have said its anxiety and to just take my meds, but that isn't enough for me. I want an MRI and if that shows nothing then I will probably focus my attention on another part of my body that hasn't been examined, scanned, poked or proded. I'm either dying or plain insane.
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replied May 15th, 2012
I started having my panic attacks when I was about 26. There is nothing in any of these posts that I have not done or experienced. I have spent many nights parked outside of the e room waiting for my attack to subside. Now we fast forward I am 54 now and I have learned to deal with them. Here are a few things that may help some of you. Play some music when you go to bed. Play the same cd every night. Count the bars in the song. Count the key changes and melody changes. Listen to every single note in the songs. Tap your foot to the beat. A steady rhythm will actually stabilize your body. It will slow your heartbeat naturally. if the cd finishes before you fall asleep play it again. if you wake up gasping for breath, and I know this is hard not to panic but instead of gasping and sucking for air breath out slowly and this will unspasm your throat muscles and allow you to breath in. if its really bad talk to a doctor and have them to prescribe a beta blocker. It will control how fast your heart will race. Think of a beta blocker as governor or throttle control for your heart. I still have episodes but I take a beta blocker and I let it do the work. I take comfort knowing that it is controlling how fast my heart is going to beat and I just ride it out. I stopped riding on rides at parks that would throw me into a panic attack. I wont get on an airplane or anything that makes me feel like I am not in control. But believe me the music will work.
Good luck
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replied January 23rd, 2009
This
It is hard to see from the inside looking out but what i am reading in this thread sounds 100% like Anxiety symptoms. Anxiety will make you self-aware of symptoms that you otherwise will ignore, it will make you focus and worry about these symptoms and event which in turn will lead to more anxiety, more symptoms, more self awareness and thus convince you that there is something wrong.
The irony of Anxiety disorders is the vicious circle of symptoms and worry that feed each other, convincing all sufferers that the Doctors are wrong and they have a serious illness that will kill them.
Anxiety is hell but Anxiety can be dealt with no matter how severe.
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replied January 24th, 2009
Anxiety?
I have had similar problems on and off for the past year. I am only 25 y.d and health besides having asthma. As I sleep I will wake up gasping for air. It happened 2 weeks ago and I was so scared b/c I was pale also that I went to the ER. THey said that I had shortness of breath with no apparent reason. Therefore, I did some searching and since I had this problem 2x's before I was somewhat prepared. I had a sleep study that came back normal, I had chest x-ray = normal, I had chest CT scan = normal, 30 day holter = normal so far. I have visited my primary care physican, cardiologist, and pulmonary dr and no one has found anything yet. The last tests are echocardiogram, stress echo, and pulmonary function test. I don't think it is my asthma my peak flow readings are normally around 700 or higher and i am 75" tall which is above normal. I have been taking o.t.c. meds for possible GERD and take albuterol as needed for asthma. Even if not normal peak flows it is well controlled unless my funtion is 900 which I have never heard of. I am looking for anyone with ideas. I have talked to my Dr. about anxiety possibilities b/c I have normally only been short of breath when sleeping or upong waking up and at times im sacred to sleep b/c the attack I had. Slowly ive learned I had a family history of panic problems and I remember as a child being scared of my asthma. The problem I have is if this is anxiety/stress is that it doesn't seem to go away for a while. Sometimes I am short of breath for 2-3 hours then it releases until 6 hours later. Any thoughts?
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replied January 26th, 2009
Anxiety For Years
I have had all these symptoms, including the gasping for air right before I fall asleep. For the last 5 years I have been to so many doctors. My anxiety took over my world, and I went to the hospital and doctors everyday. I have accepted that is was it is, but my mind tells me different every once in awhile. This is weird. How come it can not just go away. I am to paranoid to take pills. I feel like they are going to melt my brain or stop my heart. I have recently started seeing a counselor so I will have to see if this takes me anywhere.
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replied January 27th, 2009
I concur...
My opinion matters little, really, but reading all these posts is kinda like reading my own health journal. I was convinced for a long time I was going to die any day. I just finished writing a post about the period of my life I spent sleeping because I was depressed. It was shortly after I shook myself out of that behavior that I discovered I had anxiety. I started paying attention to all the little aches and pains and oddities of my body and convincing myself they were something larger, but then trying to push those feelings away for fear giving serious thought to them might make them real.

That's when I started having the sleep thing, where I'd wake up right as I was falling asleep, fearful that I might die. It got so bad one night, I fell out of bed and thought I was having a heart attack. That thought pushed me further into my anxiety attack and I collapsed on the floor as I was trying to get up. All I could think of was trying to get someone to help me, so I crawled up the stairs trying to find someone else in the house but no one was there. I would have called 911, but then in the back of my mind, something told me I wasn't going to die and I was having a panic attack, and I should just relax and drink some water.

That voice was actually my wallet, as it was empty and needed to do something to occupy its time. As soon as I started thinking about what it would cost to go to the Emergency Room, especially if I called 911, I suddenly realized I might have been wrong about dying, and by the time I finished drinking a glass of water, I also realized it had taken me over a half hour to crawl out of the basement and if it was a massive heart attack, I'd have been dead already.

The next day, I went to the doctor and he confirmed I had no signs of having had a heart attack. That was the worst attack I've ever had, and it came from reading way too much WebMD and being extremely depressed and having nothing else to do with myself. I've had some episodes since then, but I realize what they are and I'm able to calm myself down. The last time I had an episode of waking up like that came right after I got laid off from my last job, but I'm alright now.
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replied January 30th, 2009
Maybe my first panic attack
Hi
I am a 32 year old mother of two who may have just suffered her first panic attack completely out of the blue. I woke at 3am gasping for air with squeezing sensation in chest that went up my throat and jaw. My hands were tingling and I was sure I had pain in my arm. I woke my husband and asked him to call an ambulance. I thought the pain was so bad that I wass going to die. I definitley thought it was a heart attack. At hospital my pulse wa arounf 100-122. Racy and I felt very jumpy. I am home now, having cardiac tests in about a week to exclude anything of that nature. I did have ST dpression when the ambo were here and some ST flattening on EKG which docs said could happen purely from the palpitations. Obviously I think it is still my heart and my arm still tingles today. I have no prior history. I am of healthy weight, caucasian and completely frightened by this episode.
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replied February 13th, 2009
Your Not Alone
I have been in the battle of my life for the last few years. I am a 31 year old male and this all started after I lost my Mom from cancer.

I took the death very hard and went in a deep depression. After I got help and got back on my feet I noticed that my mind was always going a hundred miles an hour. I could never get to sleep. When I did sleep, as soon as I open my eyes my mind was working. I thought I was going nuts.

Soon after I noticed that I did not want to be around alot of people because it made me sick to my stomach. I started getting heart palpitations all the time. I would get them at night, after a meal, when I went out with friends. My hands would tingle, my mind would go blank, my chest would hurt so bad. One day I started having really bad palpitations and I passed out.

I went to the hospital and had the works done on me. All came back ok. They said it was Anxiety. Anxiety? I thought for sure I was dieing. And to be honest I have thought that way for the last few years until I met a Doctor who placed me on some wonderful medicine.

I know, I too felt the same way about being all jacked up on meds and the fact that my heart will stop and that they will kill me. But that is your Anxiety speaking. I also found out with blood work that my thyroid was off and that can also cause alot of the problems.

I take medicine now everynight. I do from time to time have a bad day, but its no longer taking over my life like it did before and I am happy to say I am living a very happy life now. There is hope. It is a long hard road. Do not be afraid to get help. Do not be afraid to take medicine. It can change your life.
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replied March 1st, 2009
sleep apnea or just palps im confused
Same symptoms for me , I wake up occasionaly gasping for air right before i fall asleep. But I always have the palps first as soon as lie down. These are scary and annoying but Ive learned to deal with them over time because they seem to go away for awhile(sometimes for as long as a year or more) then suddenly reappear and scare the hell out of me again.Should I be tested for sleep apnea?
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replied May 18th, 2011
they say it could be heart failure
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replied March 11th, 2012
help
nicca thanks for your input but that kind of talk makes it worse i have had all the same simtoms ben to the er and had all the heart tests that i could it all came back as panic disorder i tried zoloft it was horable for me made me extremly dizzy and have horable head aches so after only 2 pills i stoped i have ben taking xzanx at night it works for every thing but the gasping for air as i fall asleep i dont know what to do i think i am going to try a diferent type of anti depressent thanks to every body who posted it helps to know im not alone
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replied March 10th, 2009
sleep apnea or just palps
i had the same problems, and curious i went to have the sleep apnea test, it came back normal, they gave me a few true signs that you may have sleep apnea, ur neck should be over a certain girth, i can't remember exactly, but i can check on it for u, i am over weight but my neckline was a bit under the limit, age is another issue, seemingly happens to over around 40 yrs old unless u r obese, i started waking up again gasping for air, previously was a sure sympton of depression and anxiety, called "night tremors" by my professional physician's assistant who specializes in depression and anxiety, xanax does make the symptoms subside, i too hate to take anything, but its better than living in paranoia of falling asleep, the physicians assistant will want to increase my zoloft, but for now i feel fine enuff with 100 mg, where 150mg was too much, or u can look up natural remedies to take that may help. good luck to all as well as myself.
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replied March 28th, 2009
I can totally relate
I am going something, maybe a little different. I has only happened twice, but I have woken up out of a deep sleep, sat straight up out of bed and gasped for air. It felt like my throat was closed, or that I was drowning. It has scared me silly. I am also a sufferer of GAD. It has taken over my life. I am always focused on every ache and pain, Lump or bump. I have let it consume me. And now with the fear of suffocating in my sleep has got me afraid to go to sleep, for the fear I will die. I take meds for anxiety and xanax when I need it. I refrain from taking xanax until I have a full blown panic attack. Now that I have read everything there is to know about sleep apnea, I am now paranoid that I have that because of the episode of where I shot up out of bed grasping for air. I know I was laying on my back at the time. I have no clue as to what this is. IT is Saturday and my doc isn't in till Monday. So I just sit and wait. I hope all of you can find peace of mind. Because in our world of Anxiety, Peace of mind is what we crave.
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replied May 18th, 2011
wow u sound like me and my family just makes fun of me
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replied November 3rd, 2011
I have had this issue for years. I suffer from anxiety and have had every test done. It is really scary to wake up gasping for air. It really freaks my husband out. My doctors have not help at all, they just look at me strange and then order tests. I have done my own research and I truely believe it is a problem with the vagus nerve. Look into it and let me know if it sounds like the issues you have been having relate or not.
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replied April 14th, 2012
I too occasionally wake up gasping for air in the early stages of sleep. I do occasionally get anxious at night, but that pretty much stopped when I stopped drinking caffeine. I also think I have a mild problem with the vagus nerve, as I get very lightheaded after swallowing hot liquids or large mouthfuls of food. Was wondering if you noticed anything like that.
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replied April 6th, 2012
@krazykrista24 i have the same exact symptoms as you and i am so scared i am planning on going to the hospital but i know i wont get much help until i see a primary doctor i have been waking up gasping for air for almost a week straight my throat is really dry and i have to take a sip if water before i can even gasp for air i have to sit there for around 10'minutes trying to breath as deep as i can and i feel lack of oxygen in my brain as i sleep because i have a throbbing headache that doesnt go away and gets worst at night as a result of this i am petrified of falling asleep and every night i just pray it will go away for everyone else who blames waking up in the middle of the night out of breath you simply cant just say its anxiety or a panic attack because of course you are going to get panicky and scared if you can't breathe ! Also my nose is really stuffy and it only makes the problem worst i am very scared i just switched doctors and pray this person will refer me to get the neccesary test done i am overweight and have asthma and feel this only complicates everything more will be going to the hospital tonight and i will let everyone know the results hope we find a solution because this is horrible
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replied April 7th, 2009
I have had this problem for years. I actually went back to college to learn more about the medical field, hoping that I would be able to diagnose what the doctors missed. I know alot of you out their believe that the doctos missed something but the tests they take to check your heart are pretty accurate. Brain Scans will pick up any abnormalties. Anxiety is what I have finally accepted after years of living my life in fear of dying. I hope everyone out their that is told it is anxiety will accept it. I know it feels like something bigger, but if you have already been checked out by the doctors and they said everything is fine, live your life. I have learned that if you keep your mind busy with good thoughts, you will not think about all of the negative things that end up triggering a anxiety attack. As far as waking up gasping for air, I still have not found the cure for that. I still have that problem! If anyone has any advice, PLEASE HELP!!
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replied May 18th, 2011
i heard its heart related
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replied June 16th, 2011
Nicca,
Following your thread here and repeated references to the probelm being related to heart issues. What have you learned about in what way heart problems create these symptoms of waking up gaspsing for breath?
I have been diagnosed with heart disease, identified on a CT scan several years and do have occassional periods waking up in this manner. The symptomms started however not long after my wife gave birth to our son, afetr which I was aware of a building anxiety, concern for him, will he grow up ok, avoid SIDS, will I be a good dad, be able to provide for him etc.. So I can see how elevated levels of anxiety could be the cause of this, outside of my heart issues. Perhaps this is one other data point that points to anxiety as the root cause alogn with the otehr trigger points of lost jobs, death of a parent or spouse.
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replied December 11th, 2011
heart problems
im suffering from gasping for breath/stopping breathing just as i fall asleep... i have a cardiomiopithy which is an enlarged heart caused by a virus... i usually sleep fine but at the moment i have a really bad lung infection and this sleeping problem has started. Iv had about 3 hours sleep in 3 nights, but i have been really poorly...i did go to the doctors who obviously aware of my condition and he told me to breath in a bag... this is really frustrating because i do think there is more to it than a panic attack.... Im not saying you all got heart failure but i am sufering from this and i do have heart failure which when im well i do live with it quite the thing..
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replied February 20th, 2012
Sleep Apnea?
I got to say, I am so sorry to hear there is more people like me. It feels horrible to wake-up gasping for air in the middle of the night, while my wife is trembling in fear- thinking that that is her last time seeing me alive. Even after I catch my breath again, she hugs me crying. I did have- temporary- paralysis do to an anxiety attack when I was very young, but this gasping for air, that's no way to live. I don't know if mine is an anxiety attack, because I really don't have issues of fear, MAYBE in my sub-conscience which I don't know about. I was thinking of a pinch nerve that leads to my brain which tells my brain to stop breathing, (crap!) also swallowing my saliva down the wrong pipe while in the state of sleep can add to an experience like that. Crap! There's no easy answer. >:p
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replied October 23rd, 2012
I have been living with this for almost 5 years now.
My husband has this exact problem. For the past 5 years he wakes up in the middle of the night (while he is in a deep sleep) gasping for air...jumping out of bed holding his trout. It happens every 3 to 6 months. He went to a sleep doctor and after they tested him they said he was fine. HES NOT FINE! I'm not sure what to do now....what type of doctor should I send him to?
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replied September 27th, 2012
I have cardiomiopithy also for about 12 years now, i wasnt very Good about taking my meds so this year has been a struggle for me. I went to my doctor and he gave me a toung lashing and told me to get back on my lasix, digoxin, and spiraldactone, so i did because i couldnt walk four steps without being out of breath. i lost 20lbs of fluid and got my walking back and was feeling much better but then i got a cold and it went straight to my chest, im currantly on penacylan for 10 days but now i'm having this gasping for air when i dose off or if i do fall asleep i wake up gasping for air. i bet i haven't got 3 hrs sleep in a week. i'm hoping when the cold goes my sleeping will get better don't know how long the body can go without sleep? i'm going to do the sleep study when i get better hoping i can get a c pap machine i would do anything for 5 hrs of straight sleep..
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replied April 15th, 2009
Passing out after waking up
I have been reading this thread and wonder if anyone has info on what can cause a passing out feeling after waking up from being asleep? Happened to me once a couple of years ago and then again just the other night. I used to have panic and anxiety attacks and heart palpatations quite often. Went to the doctor and they ran tests and could not come up with anything other than it was stress. I then got divorced...things improved with the anxiety and panic attacks. But I still suffer from heart palpatations and now this passing out thing again during the middle of the night. Very weird. Something wakes me up go to the bathroom and bam! the numbness in the whole body, sweating, throwing up, and loosing bowl control, tingling sensation, then the ringing in the ears and the whole body starts to go down. The blood is just being sucked out feeling. Thank God I was able to slump to the floor rather than completely black out and hit my head. All I can say is this is the most scariest horrible feeling I ever experienced. Does anyone know what it is?
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replied May 18th, 2011
never heard of this souns scarry
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replied November 3rd, 2011
Fainting when arising.
Sounds like it is blood pressure issue. When you get up, you should sit up for a minute and then slowly rise.
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