Strange malady - please help me identify this
October 30, 2009 3:24 AM   Subscribe

Please help me identify this illness I have. WebMD and other medical web sites don't quite address the symptoms that I have. Please help.

I get this illness each fall/winter: I feel weak, sluggish, headache. I wake up at night in a cold sweat. And yet its not so bad that I can't go to work. To others I seem perfectly fine because I have no tell-tale signs of an illness. It doesn't manifest in upper respiratory issues: I don't get congested, although I feel some sinus pressure. The feeling of weakness and sluggishness feel particularly worse when I slow down - when I'm sitting still working in my cube at work, or when I'm lying in bed - I zonk out right away - I feel so wiped out. Last year when I had this the only thing I could find when inputting my symptoms on medical websites was mono but its not mono because it tends to go away after about two weeks. I want to know how to treat this - to make it go away more quickly - or treat the symptoms. Have you suffered from this malady? If so, how long does it last? Is this just a virus? Appreciate your advice, thanks.
posted by dmbfan93 to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
True influenza usually doesn't cause the sniffles - your symptoms fit pretty well. (Many people who claim they have "the flu" actually have a simple head cold, and the symptoms are completely different). It could also be seasonal affective disorder, or just plain old depression. See a doctor, chances are is probably fixable.
posted by embrangled at 3:31 AM on October 30, 2009

Could it be fall allergies?
posted by hydropsyche at 3:53 AM on October 30, 2009

Try to vacuum you radiators and the area around them really carefully before you put them on and look if it helps. Dust attack - never fails me.
posted by Namlit at 4:26 AM on October 30, 2009

Just curious, do you keep your windows open during the spring / summer? If so, your illness may have something to do with closing your windows in the fall (bad air circulation? mold in your house? who knows).
posted by bengarland at 5:16 AM on October 30, 2009

If it has to do with something you're breathing, you could try using a neti pot to irrigate your sinuses twice a day and see if it goes down. I never ever thought I'd be the type of person to advocate nasal irrigation, but it's helped me immensely with headaches and sluggishness. It makes it easier to breathe.
posted by sickinthehead at 5:23 AM on October 30, 2009

Sounds like allergies but how's your life style?

Do you eat right, get good exercise regularly, and manage stress?
posted by Aegean at 5:32 AM on October 30, 2009

Could be Candida, could be pathogens in the home, could be the food you're eating. It does though sound environmental. I'd look at every aspect of your life and see where there could be possible toxins being ingested and go from there. I'd especially look at the Candida possibility, where spores from carpets, walls and clothing can be breathed and cause these symptoms. Dairy, sugar and white flour products all feed the fungus, and all may contribute to the symptoms you've described.
posted by watercarrier at 5:34 AM on October 30, 2009

Do you get it multiple times each year or just once? I was thinking the same thing as embrangled, seasonal affective disorder.
posted by Silvertree at 5:37 AM on October 30, 2009

N'thing getting an allergy test, hitting your sinuses with some motherfucking steam+menthol, also exercise, diet, stress and sunshine (or sunbeds) is never a bad idea.

But the best thing you can do is talk to a doc. The advantage of going to a doctor - of going to a decent doctor, I should say - is that doctors are supposed to take accurate, comprehensive clinical histories from you, then apply a wealth of experience to figure out what's ailing you. People on askme, and the internet as a whole, are simply not capable of solving anything for you.

For example, the cognitive bias involved just in reading through these replies and deciding which ones to take heed of is more than enough to invalidate the whole process. Any help we can give you is conjecture at best.

Anyway, you may find that this is indeed a viral thing. Unfortunately if it is, there's nothing anyone can do, you'll just have to ride it out. Viruses fucking rule.
posted by schmichael at 5:48 AM on October 30, 2009 [5 favorites]

yeah ... when I turn on the central heating I get a "non-cold" cold. YMMV
posted by jannw at 6:22 AM on October 30, 2009

I second allergies - my rast testing last year showed I was allergic to a leaf mold and nothing else, for instance, which explains the fall allergies - or, perhaps, your diet changes in the fall? More carbs, maybe?

Hell, it could be viral. It could just be the shift from warm to cold in your climate. It could be the shift from more to less light.

But you know what it's not? It's not fucking Candida.

I'm seconding schmichael and would favorite his comprehensive answer 10x. Get a baseline workup.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 6:34 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks all for your input. love that my question has elicted several F bombs from two of you. funny.

i think it might be allergies, i've never been to an allergist so will get tested. how can allergies cause me to feel so tired though? i actually am a healthnut, work out every day and in good shape, health etc. so bad habits i dont' think, are contributing, although i thought i was working out too hard - so i took this week off. I hate the idea of taking the week off from working out due to something that isn't even viral (allergies).

maybe this is a non-cold. thanks all for the input. i welcome any more. even if its conjecture (it still helps me)
posted by dmbfan93 at 6:55 AM on October 30, 2009

Best answer: how can allergies cause me to feel so tired though?

Allergies can do all sorts of funky things, not just the "itchy/watery eyes" or "stuffy nose" people expect. Allergies can also manifest as respiratory issues, skin issues, digestive issues...I'd buy overall fatigue as well. I'm not a doctor, I'll grant you, but it sounds logical to me ("Hell, allergies do a lot of other things, that sounds plausible, at least").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fatigue can be caused by a lot of things: a virus, hormonal imbalance, underactive thyroid, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), poor quality of sleep, poor nutrition, and the list goes on and on. The only way to know from sure is to see a doctor and have a full and thorough exam including blood work. The fact that it seems to coincide with the Fall could indicat seasonal affective disorder or allergies, but is it possible you are only noticing it in the fall? By the way, fatigue is an easy thing for doctors to dismiss, especially if they think your lifestyle (sleep, exercise, & diet habits) is to blame. Stand firm, do not minimize how often this happens or how much it is affecting you, and provide as much detail as possible. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 8:45 AM on October 30, 2009

how can allergies cause me to feel so tired though?

I don't know the how, but the mold allergies I'm having right now completely zonk me out. I have the sniffles and a lot of itchiness, but my main symptom is fatigue. Maybe it's due to your body mounting a response.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:55 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I get the feeling, even though I take medication for seasonal allergies, so it's not really that.

I'd say that you get slightly seasonally depressed, and also dehydrated. My sinuses often feel screwy due to the indoor/outdoor transition and lack of humidity. If you don't have one, put a humidifier in your bedroom, and look into whatever it takes to treat the seasonal blahs.
posted by mikeh at 1:33 PM on October 30, 2009

I'm going to also suggest allergies to mold and possibly some other things that pop up in the Fall. The best I have done is to set up a reminder on my calendar program to start taking cod fish liver oil and Flonase two weeks before the symptoms seem to flare. I also got a sinus rinse, I used Neilmed device; and finally when the shit came in full swing I started using Astelin. This worked for me two years out of three. I had to go to the allergist to get a script for the Flonase and Astelin. You might be too late for this year but definitely worth a shot next go around.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:15 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sounds like allergies and maybe SAD. My allergies always make me tired - I'm not sure exactly why.
posted by mmoncur at 5:21 AM on October 31, 2009

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