Patient Comments: Pericarditis - Symptoms and Signs

Question:

What symptoms and signs did you experience with your pericarditis? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Lyn, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 28

I am 56 years old and work full time. On Tuesday, 6/21/16 I'd been at work about an hour. I move around quite a bit in a large 1 story building where part of the air conditioning has not been working properly. Rather suddenly, I became very winded, arms felt like lead, had a dry persistent cough, and there was a definite heaviness in the center of my breast-bone. I moved very slowly, no choice, due to shallow breathing, having to sit frequently. I couldn't speak more than 4 words without taking a few breaths, and I seemed to stumbling over my words and finding my thought process to be slightly impaired. I had been extremely fatigued for about 6 weeks prior. I was trying to hold off seeking medical attention until 8:00 when a nearby Med-Pointe was to open. But a half-hour of this worsening convinced me I needed to go to the emergency room (ER). It took me forever it seemed, to walk from my car into the ER department. I was wheeled immediately into a room and hooked up to a machine monitoring my heart. I have a history of bronchitis and pneumonia and I honestly thought that what was wrong, they'd give me a treatment, order a prescription and I'd be on my way. Wrong! Eleven hours and multiple tests/x-rays later, I was given the diagnosis of pericarditis. Thankfully not enough excess fluid to warrant admittance or a procedure. I was told that within a week my symptoms and the excess fluid should be gone and was sent on my way. No restrictions, and no medicines. Well, I'm getting scared. I had to leave work later this week due to the symptoms returning, and even though I've kept myself inside, today I have been miserable, with the shortness of breath and heaviness in the chest. Being cool, and trying to keep stress at a minimum seems to help the symptoms. I'm so very glad I listened to my body and the 'something's not right' feeling.

Comment from: bob, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 10

I had severe pain in center of chest moving into my shoulders. The pain stayed static, and I had put it down to indigestion as I suffer from that. I also suffer from COPD and arthritis, and my wife made me go to the hospital where eventually a prescription of ibuprofen and paracetamol gradually eased the pain. I had a slight recurrence a few days later but nothing since. The doctor believes it was pericarditis, and I am now going to be attending the cardio unit for further tests.

Comment from: Gaynor, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 12

I first noticed crackling in the back of my throat when I was resting and shallow breathing which had been going on for about six weeks and a dry irritating cough. And one morning when I got out of my bed to go to the bathroom I suddenly got this heavy sharp feeling in my chest and throat and in my back. I thought I was having the beginnings of a heart attack, I felt like I had a cannonball in my chest and throat. I went to see my doctor that morning and he gave me an ECG which he thought looked normal and told me that I had reflux which I thought was very strange. Three weeks later I still felt unwell and was finding it hard to hold a conversation when I was walking because I was feeling short of breath and going upstairs was making me feel also short of breath, and I was also feeling very anxious about how I felt and found I had lost my appetite and suffered from nausea quite badly, and my stomach also did a lot of grumbling. I eventually made a private appointment to go and see a specialist where he very quickly diagnosed pericarditis. I have been taken colchicine 500 mcg for the last 6 weeks and Naproxen 500 mcg for the last three weeks to try and speed things up. The pain in my chest is no longer there but the pain in my back between my shoulder blades is still there, always at its worst in the mornings. I look forward to feeling myself again soon but it is taken longer than I was led to believe.

Comment from: Cardi, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 22

I had the flu, took regular multivitamins, and after a few days I was ok; or so I thought. I started coughing, this continued for days then I started feeling pain in my chest more to the left side. Anything that caused the lung to be inflated including deep breath, sneeze, or yawn, I just have to cut it short as it feels like the lung is touching the heart. I saw a doctor, got anti-inflammatory medications but still feel the pain. I was sent to do blood tests including HIV as I started night sweats and fever. Then the echocardiogram showed pericarditis, the damage to the lining of the heart and lung. Hey, be careful, flu can kill.

Comment from: heather1012, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

A few years back I started getting run down and very tired. It was not abnormal as both my boys were in hockey and in school so I was running around a lot with them plus I worked a full time job. However, I noticed when I went to bed at night the pressure on my chest was unbelievable. After a week, I had to sleep sitting up. I went to the doctor and he said I must have strained a muscle and prescribed me muscle relaxants. It didn't help and the next week I went back. This time they told me it was an anxiety attack and that I should slow down. Well, by this point I had, because I could barely breathe. The third time I went, my husband had to take me to emergency and again they said it was a pulled muscle but my husband insisted on tests. So they started an EKG (electrocardiography) which was excruciating because I had to lie down. Luckily, a friend of ours who just happens to be the cardiologist was walking by and asked what was wrong. I told him and he checked me out right then and there. He knew right away that it was a viral pericarditis and discussed the matter with all the previous doctors I had seen. I was prescribed prednisone which took 8 weeks to minimize the symptoms. I still get a "sore heart" every once in a while but it only lasts a day or so and doesn't require medications.

Comment from: dovely, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 21

It has been miserable -we ate at a beautiful five star restaurant in Moralia, Mexico. The food seemed good and we were reassured the ice was made with bottled water. The trouble started within 24 hours.

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Comment from: carina, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 17

I'm a 42 year old female. I had flu symptoms and a bit of a sore lower jaw. I did not pay much attention. When my flu symptoms went away and was actually feeling better, I woke at 2 a.m. in the morning with severe pain on my neck, chest, and lower jaw. I also have a constant pain that only makes it worse with every breath. I've read before that the lower jaw pain could be the heart, woke my husband up to take me to the hospital. I was diagnosed with pericarditis and given anti-inflammatories and pain killers. I was also in ICU for three days. I am currently waiting to see a Cardiologist, but just two days ago I felt the jaw pain mildly all day so I took pills that night (the anti-inflammatories) and woke up fine the next day.

Comment from: Gayle, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 14

I was diagnosed with on October 30, 2012. It is now February 13 and still suffering. Initially, I had severe chest pain in the middle and left sideDifficulty breathing, extreme pain in left shoulder, ear ache, inflamed throat, couldn't lean back or bend over. It was painful. I had Morphine in the hospital. Only drug that eased pain was Prednisone. I take Nabumetone 750mg. He did not give me Colchicine.

Comment from: kchurch91, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 04

I woke up in the morning with severe pain in my throat. Later on it was in the middle of my chest and then in the middle of my back. The pain was so bad I could not breathe. I was admitted in the hospital and the next night the pain went to my left arm and back. I was given 6 mg of morphine within an hour the pain was so bad. I do have rheumatoid arthritis so my doctor gave me 90mgs of prednisone and then I'm on 60mgs a day which has helped a great deal.

Comment from: Pericarditis-YUM!, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: November 21

Tight, crushing sensation in chest, which at times radiated down my left arm. Palpitations, fever, dry cough, fatigue. Deep breaths made it feel like my left lung and heart were rubbing together. Night sweats, got worse when lying down. Also, lots of anxiety because I didn't know what was happening. Dizziness, lightheadedness, could barely walk up a flight of stairs.

Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I am a 39 year old female with pericarditis. I initially first noticed something was wrong when I was walking up a steep hill at a waterpark with my kids. I am in very good shape and this was very abnormal to be short of breath. I had an episode last year where I fainted and hit my head on a railroad tie. The doctor is unclear if these two are related, but I do have abnormal T waves on my EKG as well as one side of my heart is enlarged from the pericarditis. The anti-inflammatories actually do not seem to help and are very hard on my stomach. I have good days and I have bad days. This has been going on for almost two months now. I am going to see a cardiologist next week. They will most likely do another echocardiogram to see how it is doing. Hopefully by then it will be better. I am not getting discouraged it is just a little frustrating being so young and being held back from being as active as I normally am. Keeping my spirits up though that this shall too pass.

Comment from: Db9, Published: March 08

I was sick with a virus diagnosed as bronchitis and after two weeks it went away. I started lifting weights again and felt fine. After playing pickup basketball two weeks later I felt very slow and out of shape. I went home and felt fine and then three hours later I felt like I had a weight on my sternum and couldn't breathe. After being diagnosed with pericarditis, I have has a ton of trouble falling asleep and stress has hit me very hard. It has been impossible for me to sleep the night before a test (awful during midterms week) and I have slowly regained all of my original symptoms after initially improving.

Comment from: she104, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 18

One morning I woke up around two hours before I was supposed to get up for work with this nagging pain right in the middle of my chest. I took 3 Ibuprofen and went back to bed. Two hours later I woke up and was in extreme pain in the same spot. I tried coughing and began drinking water constantly. The pain did not go away. I then decided I should take an Aspirin as a precaution. After about an hour I decided to go to the urgent care center where they did an EKG and chest X-ray. They were both normal but the pain continued and would get worse when I would try to lie down or take deep breaths. I was told to go to the ER. Once there they took another EKG and it was normal. I then went to my primary doctor who ordered a CT scan of my upper chest including heart and the results showed something that could not be identified. A cardiologist was consulted and it was decided to do a TEE (transesophogeal echocardiagram) to rule out Aortic Dissection. Thank goodness I did not have that however the cardiologist indicated it was more than likely Pericarditis. I also have RA so it was indicated. The pain lasted for an entire day and resolved after taking narcotic pain meds in addition to steroids. However, for two weeks I was extremely exhausted and could not walk up and down stairs or walk for more than a half a block. I could not walk the grocery store or a mall or anywhere. I would run out of breath. By the 3rd week I was finally able to start walking again. I still take steroids and anti-inflammatories each day. It has been 4 weeks now. I hope this helps anyone to decide to go to the doctor, get checked out, be persistent and do the diagnostic tests. Have a great day.

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Comment from: Lauraf, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 18

I experienced pericarditis twice since having heart surgery; the most recent was with the worst symptoms. I still cannot lay flat without pressure and pain and yesterday I can say the pain was a ten on a scale of one to ten. Strangely enough my echocardiogram was normal even though my symptoms are so intense. I took Tylenol with Codeine when the pain was at its worst and it allowed me to feel like I could take a breath again. They're also treating me with Motrin to take down the inflammation. I think a big part of healing is getting diagnosed and of course going on the anti-inflammatory drugs.

Comment from: dawngirl1975, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

With my pericarditis, I was very stressed, and I started to swell up. My eyes and face were swollen -- others at work noticed it first. In a week's time, I could not wear any of my clothes, and I could not lie on my back. I could not breathe. Soon I was unable to walk because my torso was hurting so bad. I was in the hospital a week before they figured it out. They finally did a CT scan and they saw my whole body, heart and lungs were outlined in fluid. They drained 20 pounds of fluid from me. My immune system attacked my heart and did some damage to one of the bottom sacs. I had to see a cardiologist for a while after that and do echocardiograms. She told me that if I don't get rid of the stress in my life that I would be six feet in the ground. I quit my job and started to take better care of myself. Now I am battling other stuff. Stress can kill you. Remember that.

Comment from: Mick, 35-44 Male Published: July 25

I had a heart procedure done called an ablation to prevent atrial fibrillation. I then got pericarditis and two weeks later had 1.6 litres of fluid drained from the pericardium. I have had pericardiis in April and now have got it back but this time it's different and echo shows no fluid or enlargement of the heart. I feel a stinging feeling around the chest and very hard to breath like shortness of breath and asthma.

Comment from: Steve, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 23

I started with flu-like symptoms in mid-July and it felt like a very bad virus. I then started experiencing chest pain when walking, which gradually worsened so that I couldn't walk up the hill to the train station where I live. Then it got increasingly worse and the dull pain in my chest spread down my left arm to my elbow and fingers. I was concerned that I could be having a heart attack. I am a 51 year old male in good health and reasonably fit as I cycle, don't smoke, and drink occasionally. I went to the local clinic near work and was seen for about five hours. They did two ECGs and a blood test for enzymes that were negative and showed me in good health. I was allowed to leave but the pain got worse and I became very fatigued, almost exhausted. I went to my own doctor who diagnosed viral pericarditis and gave me a course of anti inflammatories that I am now taking. My symptoms also included pain when I lay down but not pain when I breathed in. I appear to have a moderate case and am now recovering while off work. I suspect I will have to take more than a week off to recover though, possibly two or three weeks. We will see!

Comment from: Moe, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

My pericarditis started when I woke up with a pain with every breath I took. The doctor told me I was fine, and I went home and the pain was gone after a week. It came back after two days. I saw the doctors every two days and still they said nothing was wrong. My heart rate went to 149/100 and they started to do tests on me. I was 20 years old when this happened.

Comment from: 45-54 (Patient) Published: June 02

Diagnosed with pericarditis a week ago aftre experiencing severe pain. Three vists to the ER later I developed A-fib and had to be converted back to a normal rhythm. Prescribed 800 mg of Motrin 3x/day which had some effect, them it got worse. Now on Prednisone corticsteriods to try and reduce the inflammation. This condition typically resolves itself over time and a positive attitude is a must, even better, humor. Easier said that done when you're doubled over in pain, but hey - this doesn't kill you but it tests your mettle to be sure. Keep well everyone.

Comment from: ceebee, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: May 26

Terrible chest pain that varied from a tight cramping sensation around the heart that would spread across my chest and diaphragm, to a sharp stabbing pain in the area of the heart that would spread up my neck and shoulder and that I felt with each heartbeat. Pain would worsen if I bent too far forward, lay flat on my back, coughed, or breathed deeply, and would ease if I leaned forward slightly and took shallow breaths. My heart at times would beat very hard and\or fast, as well as irregular. Had a constant heavy sensation and tightness in my chest. A pounding headache, weakness, occasional anxiety, and felt tired all the time. Despite treatment, this is still going strong, and I've had it for a month and a half now.

Comment from: Ceruleanblue312, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 04

Sharp pain on breathing in or leaning back, had pain in chest as well as sharp pain in throat. Pain was eased by sitting up or very slightly forward. I have had at least 3 recurrances of pericarditis since the initial instance but much less severe.

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Comment from: guscabs, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: February 01

I have had pericarditis 4 times in a year, first one started back in February 09 and to the present day. Last week I was in hospital for 2 nights. Last Thursday I was sent home, with a lot of tablets, and to finish the course. Today on 1.2.2011, I still have it in my system, all last week, I was pumped full of pain killers, this condition does last for a while, getting totally fed up with this.

Comment from: caleb28525, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: November 21

I am dealing with an unknown situation now. In May of 2011 I had fluid in the pleural area of my left lung had to be drained with a Pleurx tube and this past October my right side had a tube in the lung to drain off fluid. Both times the fluid tests yielded no bacteria or viral infections but blood counts on both white and red were high. Then this past Monday I had trouble breathing and the center of my chest hurt. I went into ER and was admitted straight to the ICU. There they found I had the heart fluid was inflamed but still no known cause. I talked with the doctors and they said the issue with my lungs and heart is related and I could have Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or any number of things. We are now undergoing extensive lab testing.

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