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Pins & needles everywhere
August 18, 2011 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Tingling/burning sensations as well as fatigue and heartburn for the past few days. Seeing a doctor next week, but curious what this could be and if I should rush myself to the ER.

For the past few days I've noticed occasionally tingling or burning sensations in my arms and legs. While obviously I can't tell it definitely feels like it's a nerve thing. Occasionally part of my skin will go numb for a bit. It's happening on both sides of my body so it's not a pinched nerve. Other symptoms: fatigue (even though I've been sleeping full nights), heartburn, and twitching under my left eye (I get this sometimes when I'm tired/drunk, but not this often).

I'm a 21-year-old lady and a vegetarian. I've also dealt with iron-deficiency anemia on-and-off (I'm can be sloppy about taking my supplements) for the past year. I also smoke, get drunk most weekends, take ecstasy occasionally, and used to go on nitrous oxide binges until last year. I'm thinking this is Vitamin B12 deficiency, since a lot of my symptoms are listed here (I've gotten the mouth sores described on the article a few times before, but chalked it up to anemia).

I've made a preemptive strike by getting iron supplements with B12 added, and upping my fortified soy milk intake. But my main point here is: I have a doctor's appointment on Monday, but could this be something panic-worthy that I should go to the ER for? Stroke? Aneurysm? MS? Nerve damage? I'm a bit of a hypochondriac and never really know when something is serious enough for a doctor.

Also, does anyone have any experiences with B12 deficiency?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
IANAD. I'm not sure about the heartburn and the twitching, but persistent fatigue and numbness or tingling, especially in distal parts of the body (fingers, toes, spreading up the legs and arms) are sure signs of chronic B12 deficiency. Its mechanism of action is both to inhibit blood cell production (resulting in reversible anemia) and nerve damage. Since you're describing fairly advanced symptoms, I would make sure to see a doctor and get a CBC (blood cell count) done at a lab ASAP. Treatment for B12 deficiency is simple, it's always treatable, and the medication (basically, injectable B12) is cheap. However, if you don't get on top of this, your (potential) nerve damage could — like mine — become permanent.
posted by Nomyte at 4:33 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're worried about the cost/hassle of the ER you can probably go to one of those drug store minute clinics and have a nurse check your vital signs. They might also be able to tell you if you need to go to the ER. Another option is that a local hospital might have a nurse line you can call in to to describe your symptoms.
posted by ghharr at 4:34 PM on August 18, 2011


IANAD: Sounds doctor-on-Monday worthy, but not ER worthy.

Try stopping any of: smoking, drinking, e, nitrous, weed, etc. The big one that would concern me is the ecstasy. Many symptoms you describe match up with the "mid-week flu." The ecstasy/alcohol combo tends to knock out your vitamins (especially B vitamins) quite rapidly, and will manifest in feeling rather crappy a few days later. Mix that with a possible B12 deficiency and you can put yourself in a bad way quick.

Drink fluids, take vitamins, stay away from all of the naughty stuff for a few days/weeks and see if you start feeling better. Go to the doctor anyhow and be honest with the doctor about your entire medical history. Legally (assuming in the US and many other places) the doctor has to follow confidentiality, so there is no good reason not to be honest.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:36 PM on August 18, 2011


Seconding everything Mister Fabulous says, plus an extra vote for no nitrous (if that's something you partake of). Nitrous inactivates B12 something fierce, and can cause all of the symptoms you're describing.

Even with no drug or alcohol intake, chronic B12 deficiency can develop in people who have a couple of relatively common enzyme deficiencies. Ask your doc to test your homocysteine and methylmalonic acid levels - they can help diagnose B12 metabolism disorders. Some people can absorb B12 but can't use it efficiently.

This doesn't sound like a rush-to-the-ER thing but it is worth checking out thoroughly with your doc on Monday. If it's a B12 issue, an injection can help you feel better very quickly.
posted by SakuraK at 10:52 PM on August 18, 2011


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