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Sleep Disorders

Do I have a sleep disorder?

09/03/2008

Question:

I am a 14 year old girl. Height 159 cm and mass 50 kg. Recently, actually since last year, I have a sleep disorder: chest pain(sometimes), pulse rate fast until I can hear it by myself, shortness breath, my hand always shaking and sweating, and headache.  Do I need to see a doctor? 

Answer:

Your symptoms sound frustrating and you are right to seek medical care. In your question, you describe symptoms of chest pain, a fast heart rate, shortness of breath, hands shaking and headaches. I assume that these are occurring out of sleep.

There are many possibilities that could be responsible for the symptoms describe. The conditions that could cause some or all of your symptoms might include a nightmare disorder, night-time panic attacks, sleep apnea (where individuals temporarily stop breathing in their sleep), low blood sugar in sleep, substance abuse, and even heartburn.

To sort out what might be the cause of your problems, further history and an examination will be needed. Important details in your history might include how often these symptoms happen, what time of the night they tend to occur, and whether you have ever been told that you snore, stop breathing, or have unusual movements during sleep. Also, knowing more about any other medical problems or any psychiatric or psychological difficulties would be useful.

I suggest you talk with your general physician about your problems. Then, based on your history and examination, your doctor can determine if you might need to be referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or to a sleep medicine specialist.

Good luck

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Response by:

Mark   Splaingard, MD Mark Splaingard, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University