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drdoombot's avatar

I've been experiencing dizziness, fatigue and little to no appetite for going on 8 weeks now. What could possibly be ailing me?

Asked by drdoombot (8125points) August 28th, 2010

And before someone jumps on me for asking this on an internet forum instead of to a medical professional: I’ve been seeing doctors and having tests done (I even switched my primary because he told me to just “wait it out”). So far, we haven’t been able to figure it out so I’d like to get some ideas.

It started right after July 4th: short spells of dizziness followed by extreme fatigue and complete loss of appetite. At first, I would have a day of symptoms, followed by 3–4 days of feeling relatively normal. As time passed, the time between symptomatic days shortened until the present condition, where I’m basically feeling tired and not very hungry most of the time, punctuated by the occasional feeling of dizziness (sitting, standing and lying down; it seems to happen randomly). I find that the computer screen sometimes makes the dizziness come, so I spend less time on the internet these days. I have days where I skip meals and I have days when I’m slightly hungrier, but I’m still eating far smaller portions than I used to. I have not been to the gym in 4 weeks (I used to go 3–4 times a week). I’ve steadily dropped 15–18 pounds since the symptoms first appeared.

So far, the blood tests have come up negative for diabetes and anemia. Liver and kidney functions appear normal. My primary says celiac and lyme disease are unlikely because I don’t have other symptoms. This past week, I’ve had a brain MRI, a cervical spine MRI, a chest x-ray and an abdominal sonogram. The results for those will be in at the end of next week.

I don’t know what those tests will show, but if they come up clear, what else could this possibly be? What’s the next set of tests to go for? My mother thinks I need to see an endocrinologist. My family thinks I might be depressed, and while I admit to having a history of depression, I’ve been through cognitive-behavioral therapy and have had good results. For some reason, this doesn’t feel psychological to me (and the symptoms are completely different from what I experienced when I was having panic attacks a few years ago).

It goes without saying, but this is messing up my life. I’ve been at a standstill for a number of projects because I can’t muster the energy to do them or because I feel lightheaded.

I’d like to know what questions to ask my primary, what specialists I should go see and what tests I should have done. And if my symptoms sound familiar to anyone. Basically, any insights or thoughts would be appreciated.

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15 Answers

Katexyz's avatar

I agree with your mother, you may want to see an endocrinologist. Various endocrine disorders could cause symptoms of this nature, and it would be a good idea to get thyroid function and blood hormone level tests taken. To me (someone who is not a medical professional) the symptoms sound like hypothyroidism and/or some other type of hormonal imbalance.

lillycoyote's avatar

I know this is not what you want to hear but you really need to keep working with your doctors. Dizziness, fatigue and loss of appetite are symptoms that could be associated with or the result of a whole lot of things, as far as I know. They are pretty general symptoms.

iamthemob's avatar

I wouldn’t discount depression – much of the time depression manifests itself more like profound exhaustion, which often can be mixed up with emotions more akin to frustration rather than what we consider “sadness” (e.g., an inability to get out of bed in the morning). Depression also has links to many physical, as opposed to psychological causes (http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/articles/depression.htm). Depression as we know it is frequently treated with medication as opposed to therapy (most likely in conjunction with therapy, though), so CBT wouldn’t really address the depression issues. CBT would be geared toward the panic attacks (social anxiety and other disorders), but often because these are caused by an inappropriate psychological reaction to some stimulus. Therefore, often the therapy involves remaining in the situation so the patients can experience the fear, or work through the attack, to provide them with real-life experience to contradict the thoughts associated with the fears (catastrophic, worst case scenarios). However, if you’ve already gone through these issues with your doctor, I apologize.

Also, if you have muscle pain or sore throat or other pain symptoms, along with swollen lymph nodes, you may want to do some research in chronic fatigue syndrome. I feel like it’s not something a lot of doctors would go into (although times may have changed) because, unfortunately, I believe that there is no real conclusive cause to trace it to, and so it’s very much like a random symptom grouping than a definable illness. Also, unfortunately, if you discuss this with our doctor, and you discover that your symptoms are CFS consistent, you may not be able to determine a course of treatment.

Of course, I’ll address you to the statements above regarding discussing this with your doctor. However, there may be something he or she might not be focusing on. I’ve included another link to a link with some basic informatino on CFS. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/DS00395/DSECTION=symptoms

RocketGuy's avatar

I have a strange condition that could have progressed to the same symptoms that you have, if I had not discovered the cause. I can no longer tolerate sodium nitrate. I triggers Meniers Disease in my ear. You can look up the symptoms, etc. on the internet. I had an MRI of my head – no problems were detected.

While you are waiting for the results of various tests suggested above, why don’t you try cutting out food that contains sodium nitrate – ham, bacon, pastrami, hot dogs, etc. (my favorite foods BTW) I have done that, and have been symptom-free for more than 2 years.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Are you pregnant?

drdoombot's avatar

@iamthemob Still, depression and anxiety tend to be closely connected, and I do feel that my previous therapy has equipped me for dealing with both in a better fashion. I have to admit, the stress and worry about my symptoms going on for so long have led to some anxiety, but I don’t feel that the anxiety/depression were there before the symptoms started. I am open to the possibility, however, that this could be psychological. As for CFS: though I do frequently get sore throats (usually lasting a few days every few months), I haven’t had one in several months. And my doctor has checked my lymph nodes and they aren’t swollen.

@RocketGuy I rarely eat processed meats. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a hot dog or smoked turkey.

@Ben_Dover Even if I had the plumbing for it, pregnancy brings weight gain, not weight loss.

augustlan's avatar

Do you have frequent headaches? My daughter had some similar symptoms, along with frequent headaches and occasional migraines. A neurologist diagnosed her with a migraine ‘syndrome’ or something, and medicated her. It worked fantastically. She now takes this medication daily, and the dizziness has stopped altogether.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Have you had an MRI on your brain or done a brain-scan of any type?

iamthemob's avatar

If depression is playing a part here, it may be that CBT can’t address the issues you’re concerned with here. CBTs for depression like rational emotive behavior therapy can be extremely helpful if the issue is the way you’re thinking. However, you haven’t really described any cognitions that need to be exercised away. You can’t really “face” fatigue or dizziness in the same way you can extreme negative self criticisms, e.g.. Facing either head on pretty much ends in unconciousness.

So, if you are concerned regarding hereditary aspects of depression, you may need to address the physical issues first in order to provide you with the energy to continue solving the real problem.

I can speak to my personal experiences regarding depression in response, and tell you that I had a bout with depression that manifested itself solely in physical symptoms (e.g., loss of appetite, weight loss, and EXTREME fatigue). I felt so drained all the time that getting out of bed was a supreme effort. However, I never felt sad (not really). I never sought treatment as I believed the situation was a temporary one (and I knew the external causes).

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
janbb's avatar

i would consider one of the auto-immune diseases like chronic fatigue, Epstein-Barre (which is the same or simlar to CFS), or mono. Have they tested for mono? My son had it and the sympotoms lingered for quite a while. Naturally, I’m not a doctor, but I would rule out the physical first if you don’t feel like it’s depresssion.

drdoombot's avatar

I’ve noticed that I get mild headaches, but they’re so dull and weak that they barely register. They also seem to pass quickly.

When this whole thing started, I immediately thought it was mono, but mono is usually accompanied by fevers, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, and I’ve had none of those. The lack of swollen lymph nodes also excludes CFS and Epstein-Barre, I think.

At this point, having been stressed out over the length of time I’ve had these symptoms, I’m not sure if I would be relieved or distraught to find out that there appeared to be no physiological cause.

iamthemob's avatar

@drdoombot – I can totally sympathize. Not to be somewhat cheesy, but you might get a little comfort out of watching the Golden Girls episode where Dorothy deals with CFS (season 5, eps 1 & 2). I feel like her reaction is pretty true to life for most of us – being able to link symptoms so an actual cause, regardless of the prospects of treatment, is at least somewhat more comforting than being told that it’s “all in your head.”

actuallery's avatar

Could be gall stones. I’ve had years of those symptoms only to find that it was caused by gall stones. Eventually I had my gall bladder removed and those symptoms disappeared.

Otherwise, I’d say that you don’t drink enopugh water during the day and the lack of proper nutritious foods could also add to the symptoms. Excessive coffee, smoking, and other “bad habits” can also create those symtoms.

medhelp's avatar

Dear drdoombot,

Hope you receive this comment in good health.

I am just curious to know that does your condition got better and does those feelings comes ever again ?

Because I am also feeling the same for last two weeks.

Please reply…...

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