What is this sickness called?
October 9, 2010 6:44 PM   Subscribe

What is this sickness called? When I get tired and fatigue accumulates over time, I get sick. I have been stressed out a little bit and haven't been sleeping enough for a past week, so I'm sick as I'm posting this... I get a headache, my all body aches, especially lower back and pelvic area, but from head to toe. If it's severe, I would get a diarrhea or throw up. Even if it's warm, I get a chill and sometimes cold sweat. My face feels hot but in fact I don't have a fever. This lasts for about a day, and next day when I wake up I'm okay except I feel a little shaky. I've had this for about 6 times. I just don't know what this is called.

No fever, no coughing, no sore throat or any symptom that resembles cold or flu...(or is it a flu? I don't know)

I'm from Korea, and we have a word for that in Korean(몸살), but if I look it up on the dictionary, it says "be laid up with fatigue", or "ache all over one's body (from fatigue/cold)". I guess there isn't one word that refers to this sickness?
posted by dustoff to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The English word for it would be exhaustion, most likely.
posted by Rendus at 6:54 PM on October 9, 2010

The symptoms you describe don't sound like simple exhaustion to me -- you don't get a fever, diarrhea, vomiting and all-over pain from being tired. This is called "go to the doctor". Feel better!
posted by thinkpiece at 7:13 PM on October 9, 2010

Yeah, I have no idea. I think you might have some kind of issue...thyroid? No idea. I think this isn't normal and you should bring it up with a doc as it sounds horrible! Hope you feel better soon!
posted by amanda at 7:46 PM on October 9, 2010

Response by poster: My mom gets this from time to time, and I get it from time to time.
I've gotten it about 6 times so far as I can remember.
We both get over it after a good day's rest...
I think I've gone to see a doctor before, but seems like all I got was a painkiller.
And it's not SO bad... it feels like a bad cramp everywhere plus headache.. I know I'll get over it tomorrow.

I'm surprised that no one is familiar with this "sickness"... Come to think of it, none of my family members except for my mom and I ever had this...
I should ask the doctor next time I go in...
posted by dustoff at 8:23 PM on October 9, 2010

Definitely ask the doctor next time you go in. It could be some kind of hormonal imbalance, for instance, that might be very treatable. Or it just might be that you are overtaxing your body with stress. But unless you're really stressed out and not sleeping for extended periods of time, the reaction you describe sounds to me (not a doctor) like it's on the extreme end of normal. Get checked out.
posted by vytae at 8:39 PM on October 9, 2010

I'm half Korean and this happens to me too. I eventually saw a rheumatologist and turns out I have arthritis. The episodes vary in severity depending on my stress level and tiredness.
posted by mamaquita at 8:45 PM on October 9, 2010

This sounds remarkably like post-polio syndrome, but it seems unlikely that you're over fifty and had polio as a child. But post-polio is a degenerative neurological disorder, so if you have some sort of neurological weakness, overuse might result in similar symptoms. The difficult thing about neurological disorders, including post-polio, is that they manifest differently in different people, so are often hard to diagnose. And if you're in the U.S., it may be prohibitively expensive to find out.

From my own experience, I strongly urge you to pay attention to your body. If these things happen when you are fatigued and stressed, try very hard to not get fatigued or overstressed. It's not easy, and there is rarely much support for stopping and resting, or for stepping away from stress. But especially if you find that the episodes are happening more frequently or with more severity, take it seriously. Neurological damage doesn't get better, it's often cumulative, and there's not much anyone can do about it.

Best wishes.
posted by kestralwing at 8:57 PM on October 9, 2010

Response by poster: I am 21 years old, so I probably don't have post-polio syndrome.. Haha. I will definitely talk to my doctor about this, as I'm going in to see her next month.
It's second time in 4 years I've had this since I moved to US, and maybe the term I used to refer to it in Korea may not meant the same thing as other people did... I don't know!
Thanks for your comments.
posted by dustoff at 9:00 PM on October 9, 2010

Colitis? Your doc can test for it...
posted by IAmBroom at 9:18 PM on October 9, 2010

IANAD and random medical info over the 'net (even on askmefi) may only be worth what you pay, but ...

what you get sounds very like what I used to get for a year or two as the after-effects of mono, except without the sore throat. Dittoing everyone who says get a doctor's review.
posted by anadem at 9:25 PM on October 9, 2010

Best answer: Fatigue, back pain, headache, gastro-intestinal distress? These are all symptoms of stress. What you're feeling is probably a combination of physical exhaustion and the bodily effects of psychological stress. It's quite normal, but you would probably benefit from learning ways to manage your workload and stress levels.
posted by embrangled at 9:58 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I'm really tired- especially if I've slept less than 5 hours- I feel pretty much what you describe- achy, hot/cold, headachey, stomach-fussy, and floaty. I'm also clumsier and less intelligent. I've always just called it "being really tired".
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:21 PM on October 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

i'll wager on hypothyroidism. but also get your vitamin d levels checked. do your eyebrows thin out near the outside edges? (i'd also be interested to see if there is a traditional korean treatment associated with the word/illness you describe).

Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid system, is one of the most underdiagnosed and important conditions in the United States. It has been called the "unsuspected illness" and accounts for a great number of complaints in children, adolescents and adults.

What kinds of complaints characterize an underactive thyroid system? Low energy and fatigue or tiredness, especially in the morning are frequent in these patients. Difficulty losing weight, a sensation of coldness--especially of the hands and feet, depression, slowness of thought processes, headaches, swelling of the face or fluid retention in general, dry coarse skin, brittle nails, chronic constipation, menstrual problems-such as PMS and menstrual irregularities including heavy periods, fertility problems, stiffness of joints, muscular cramps, shortness of breath on exertion and chest pain are some of the symptoms that can be seen in people with underactive thyroid systems. Be aware that a person with a low functioning thyroid doesn't have to have all of these symptoms, he may have only a few.
posted by kimyo at 10:40 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I get like this a lot too. Basically, my body REALLY doesn't like to be kicked around like that and it revolts until I can catch the next sleep cycle and reset. And the worsening of symptoms (I figure) are just my miseries compounding and folding in on themselves. So, my tired brain is cranking away extra hard to think and act and operate my body through space over time. And on top of that, it's getting all these signals and complaints from my body that it just doesn't like today's program. The riot gets louder and louder until I pay attention...hence, physical sickness, etc.

But you probably should see a doctor to make sure it's nothing more serious. I'm just sharing my experience to offer the possibility that it could be something that just is. And to actively avoid creating those situations in particular, as they are especially miserable to endure.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:18 AM on October 10, 2010

Yes, in English we call this "fatigue."

It has nothing to do with being Korean. If the pain is severe, it's something else.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:22 AM on October 10, 2010

Sounds like too much stress and too little sleep, to me.
posted by that girl at 4:25 AM on October 10, 2010

Best answer: I am recovering from this at the moment. For me, ten days of sleeping only 4-5 hours and working in two different hospitals = at some point, I'm going to feel like crap. That point is yesterday and today. I assume it's nothing as dramatic as some of the answers above: it's possible, given your working environment - if you're at a university or in another place where you come into contact with a lot of people - you just caught some random minor viral infection that you wouldn't notice if your immune system was in better shape. Stress + lack of sleep = knocking down the immune system, ergo, it's easier to get sick.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:07 AM on October 10, 2010

I wonder if this is kinda sorta what some people call a culture-bound syndrome? Just for the record, I don't think that makes it any less real - everyone's experience of illness and health is tied up with their culture and personality and psychology. And I think the main reason there are no mainstream Western illnesses on that Wikipedia list is just that Western health/medicine are being considered as the default.

If you're looking for ways of treating this, you might want to look into how it would be treated if you were back in Korea.

If I had your symptoms, though, coming from my cultural background and with my personal experience of health and illness, I would see them as signs that I was not treating myself right and I needed to make some changes. All of those symptoms look consistent with fatigue and stress to me. Actually, now that I come to think about it, I have a friend who had very similar symptoms. She went to a lot of doctors, but the sickness only went away when she quit her job and got divorced! Not suggesting you do that, but stress/overwork/unhealthy relationships/etc. can have a huge impact on your health, whether you call it "몸살" or think of it as a weird collection of stress-related symptoms.
posted by mskyle at 6:17 AM on October 10, 2010

You may want to ask your doctor to check out the possibility of an auto-immune disorder, or the precursors to one. My mother tends to suffer from a similar constellation of symptoms when she is particularly tired and/or under stress. In her case, it is connected to rheumatoid arthritis.
posted by bardophile at 6:30 AM on October 10, 2010

Response by poster: Hmm. Well I recovered last night, I woke up sweating profusely and felt much better. But I will definitely get it checked out...
posted by dustoff at 10:07 AM on October 10, 2010

To me, this mirrors the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

I would sometimes get the same ache and fever and barely be able to walk. It would knock me out for a couple of days. The lower back and pelvic pain was the worst. You wouldn't necessarily have pain or pressure when urinating, so it might be easy to mistake it for exhaustion on top of stress.

Next time you get this, try drinking lots of cranberry juice -- or going to the doctor to get tested for a UTI. Antibiotics will zap it for you.
posted by vickyverky at 11:08 AM on October 10, 2010

you might want to read up on hashimoto's disease (a subvariant of hypothyroidism). it can be stress related. the 'typical' thyroid blood test doesn't include free t3/t4, you often have to insist that your md include those, as well as a thyroid antibody test. more testing/other info here.
posted by kimyo at 1:02 PM on October 10, 2010

Just for fun.... why not post on a Korea-based group? Get their side of the story too. Find out what the Korean treatment is for these symptoms.
posted by exphysicist345 at 6:38 PM on October 10, 2010

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