Get E-Book on COVID-19

Q. Why do I wake up with shortness of breath and numbness in my right arm?

Answered by
Dr. Prathap
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on May 08, 2017 and last reviewed on: Oct 05, 2019

Hello doctor,

I am a 32 year old male, who weighs 115 lbs and I am 5.10 feet tall. I woke up after an hour of sleep with shortness of breath and numbness in my right arm. I have been suffering from a cold, for a week now. Five days ago I boarded a flight, I got congested during the first leg of the flight, and got no sleep. On the second leg after dozing off briefly, I woke up feeling numb in my arms, particularly the right arm, and shortness of breath that quickly spiraled into extreme shortness of breath, a racing heart, and hot flushes. The airline crew placed me on oxygen for the remaining two hours of the flight. My blood pressure was on the higher side and pulse came back fine as well. When I landed, the airport clinic gave me Amoxicillin and checked my vitals, and they were stable, so they released me.

After two nights of difficult or no sleep, I went to a hospital, where my blood pressure was138/93 mmHg. So, the doctor prescribed me a Pseudoephedrine and Paracetamol, to take along with the Amoxicillin. I have been taking them every 8 hours as prescribed, and they appear to be helping. They performed an EKG and found nothing wrong.

This brings me to the current problem. I am still experiencing difficulty in sleeping even with the medication. I managed to doze off for an hour first thing last night but woke up with shortness of breath and my right arm numb. I was sleeping on my back and did not roll on the arm. I recovered and tried for several hours to fall back to sleep. Why is only my arm going numb? Is it deprived of oxygen due to the cold? If so, why not other limbs too? I am normally a snorer, so I figured that the chest congestion is leaving me short of breath. Any thoughts on this, and what else can I do?

Dr. Prathap

General Medicine Internal Medicine


Welcome to

I would give my opinion regarding this, but it may not be the final diagnosis as I have not examined you.

Shortness of breath after lying down for an hour implies there is a pulmonary congestion, that is pooling of blood in lungs due to weakened heart. It is called orthopnea, which is a sign of heart disease. The likely cause could be a viral myocarditis, as you have had a recent journey to a new place.

Also, this can be possible in a patient with asthma, even though the probability is low. Coming to the arm pain, it cannot be explained with the cause mentioned above. There can be a local pathology or a compression near the shoulder to the brachial plexus. I suggest you get a chest x-ray, echocardiogram, and ECG (electrocardiography). If possible, I want to see the ECG, as it is very tricky to interpret the ECG.

Revert with more information to an internal medicine physician online -->

Was this answer helpful?


Related Questions:
My asthmatic mother's X-ray is negative for TB. What else this could be?
Kindly give your suggestion based on my blood report.
Can allergic asthma turn into permanent asthma?

This is a sponsored Ad. icliniq or icliniq doctors do not endorse the content in the Ad.

Consult by PhoneConsult by Phone Video ChatVideo Chat
Also Read Answers From:

Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

My EKG reports did not show CPVT. Why?

Query: Hi doctor, I understand that a resting EKG cannot show catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT). I had numerous EKGs and echoes and all were normal. I read that the stress test is the only way to diagnose CPVT. I have had major panic attacks during EKGs with heart rates up to 140...  Read Full »

Can machine-generated report of EKG be completely relied upon?

Query: Hello doctor, I am a 41-year-old male. I have been elected for an EKG because I am a pilot and need a medical certificate. I have hypertension that is controlled easily with 10 mg Propranolol a day and 10 mg Lisinopril a day. My BP is 117/70 with 66 BPM. There are no symptoms of chest pain or shortn...  Read Full »

My father had pain below the heart which was on the rib side. What is the cause?

Query: Hi doctor, My father had mild chest pain. The doctor did an angiogram, and they told there is a block in the blood pumping vessel and it is closed. We planned for placing a stent. The next day, the doctor tested again and told the blood vessel is opened and it is normal. So, the stent was not place...  Read Full »

Also Read

COVID-19 and MIS-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children)
MIS-C is a potentially fatal condition that affects children infected with COVID-19. Please read the article to know its...  Read more»
I have fever, severe headache, and cough. Please help me.
I have fever since five days. My fever comes down when I take medicine but eventually comes back. I also have severe hea...  Read more»
Brucellosis - Symptoms, Complications, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Brucellosis, a zoonosis, is caused by consuming unpasteurized milk or raw meat obtained from infected animals. For sympt...  Read more»

Ask your health query to a doctor online?

Ask an Internal Medicine Physician Now

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: All health Q&As published on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek the advice from your physician or other qualified health-care providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website.