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Dr. Thomas, MD
Dr. Thomas, MD, Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 63757
Experience:  Board certified Internal medicine and Integrative medicine. Many years of experience all areas.
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Hi, im a 31 year old man in relatively good health, im not

Customer Question

Hi, im a 31 year old man in relatively good health, im not overweight, nor am i on any medication for anything. In the last few years (6 or 7 years) ive had these episodes (always within the first 15 mins of sleeping) that im unable to breathe and wake up gasping for air, sometimes its a lot frightening than others because literally i cannot take a breath for at least a good few seconds, but then when this first episode occurs, i know i can go back to sleep with no other episodes....

Ive not seen the doctor regarding this, because i rarely ever need to go to the doctor. I dont think its sleep apnea as im not overweight, nor do i snore or feel tired during the day.

I have noticed a few things that may trigger more episodes of this than other times, 1. Bad sleeping pattern, 2. Leaning to one side for too long (watching tv in bed) before sleeping 3. Eating loads before sleeping (but this one not so much as sometimes i can eat a full meal late at night and sleep with no episodes)

Sometimes i wont get this for months, and then a few times a week, and then again no episodes for weeks/months...

Any ideas?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr Basu replied 3 years ago.

Mysticdoc :

The views expressed by me are for educational purposes only and do not establish a doctor patient relationship.

Mysticdoc :

Hi there,

I am Mysticdoc, experienced Internal Medicine Specialist.

I am here to help you with your concerns.

Mysticdoc :

Sleep apnea can cause these symptoms.

Mysticdoc :

Sleep apnea is caused by the breathing problem during sleeping.

Mysticdoc :

Oxygen level drops in the blood and causes these symptoms.

Mysticdoc :

Obesity is one common cause of sleep apnea.

Mysticdoc :

Also if you have any blockage in the nasal passage that can cause difficulty in breathing during sleep.

Mysticdoc :

Diabetes, thyroid disorder are other possibilities which can cause these symptoms.

Mysticdoc :

Sleep study should be considered to further investigate your problem.

Mysticdoc :

Treatment is available for sleep apnea.

JACUSTOMER-dczfgmxx- : Not thorough answer
Mysticdoc :

Please ask which part you did not understand.

Expert:  Dr. Thomas, MD replied 3 years ago.
Hello from JA

I am Dr. Thomas, board certified in internal medicine and I can help you with this and any follow up questions. I cover a lot of ground and might give you an answer or ask for information, but use reply to communicate with me for questions or added details.


In fact a more likely possibility is that you have acid reflux.
This is more consistent with having this happen after a heavy meal, and the other things you describe.

Another possibility is heart disease, which can cause this symptoms, and it is called paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea.

Apnea is possible but usually does not wake one up.

It is where you stop breathing while you are asleep for a period of time.

These are the pain possibilities...see a good board certified internist about this.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

but why does it happen only within the first 15 mins of sleeping and then it will never happen again during that night?

Expert:  Dr. Thomas, MD replied 3 years ago.
This would still happen in reflux, which can be highly variable.
So when you first lie down, you have the reflux then it settles down.

It is consistent with apnea, which can act this way, but you would still be having periods of not breathing when you are asleep.

It makes heart disease less likely. Remotely possible.

OK. If you have further questions or details, use reply to expert.
Otherwise please choose a positive rating . But, still come back if you need to…think of something later, etc. Bonuses are appreciated.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Don't think its the other thing you mentioned paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea have no other symtoms; such as coughing, wheezing, etc. so the remedy then?

Expert:  Dr. Thomas, MD replied 3 years ago.
I just said that the heart disease would only be remotely possible.

The remedy is first to see a good internist and see if this is GERD or apnea.
A first step would be to treat for GERD with a drug such as nexium, raise the head of the bed 6 inches on wood blocks, and correct any dietary problems, and see if this helps.
This is with a full exam of course.

If this does not help, maybe either a GI consult, or a sleep study, depending on exam findings.

OK. If you have further questions or details, use reply to expert.
Otherwise please choose a positive rating . But, still come back if you need to…think of something later, etc. Bonuses are appreciated.

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