Can you help me diagnose this odd health issue?
November 25, 2011 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me diagnose this weird medical medical problem? I occasionally feel temporarily faint, dizzy, unable to concentrate.

This is very hard for me to explain, do bear with me. I am a 29 year old male. I am in fod shape, eat a healthy diet, drink 2-4 strong drinks a night, and have no other major medical issues. I also drink caffeine.

Here is what I experience:

A number of times each day, I will begin to feel like I am momentarily losing consciousness our at least momentarily unaware. I an taking split second, but it will go on for a while. It doesn't feel like faking sleep to me and friends say that I dont look like I am nodding off. This especially happens in fluorescent light, when I'm trying to concentrate, when I'm standing.
I thought this was a caffeine issue, but I can pin that down by testing.
I thought it was a blood sugar issue, but this happened after eating recently.
I thought this was a sleep issue, but it doesn't happen when I am sitting in a query rom by myself.
As an example of this, I was standing watching an important speaker on friday for about 10 minutes. The whole time I was fighting off the strange feeling that I was going to pass out or something. As soon as I was able to move around and look away and talk to friends, I felt much better.

I know this sounds crazy, but I really dont know. It ready fouts derm like it happens more often when watching people speak. It feels like it could be related to vision and concentration.
posted by denverco to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you had your blood pressure checked lately?

And I'm guessing that nobody here can diagnose you reliably. You really need to see a doctor.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:27 PM on November 25, 2011

Response by poster: I should also note my memory is horrorendous on some days. Ill forget having seen a movie only a few days earlier.
posted by denverco at 9:30 PM on November 25, 2011

Sounds like it could one of many, many things. There is no way anyone is going to be able to diagnose you over the internet. You say that you have no "major medical issues" but it sounds like this is a "major medical issue" if it's happening on a daily basis. Go to the doctor.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:31 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have had my blood pressure checked. It wad high each time. I am a very anxious person, so doctors thought white coat syndrome.
posted by denverco at 9:31 PM on November 25, 2011

See a doctor for sure.

It almost sounds like seizures - especially if you get them around bright lights.

Have you ever had a concussion or head injury? Even a mild concussion can cause the symptoms you describe.

Also, I'll second mikeand1 - blood pressure is often related to incidents like that. When you're standing, you could be locking your knees or otherwise limiting the blood flow to parts of your body. That would make your BP drop and make you feel faint and unable to concentrate.

But yeah. See a doctor.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:31 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're describing a symptom -- syncope. It's a symptom of a great many different ailments, a few of which are no big deal, a few of which are serious. You have to go to a doctor.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:32 PM on November 25, 2011

I'd also say to see a doctor, sooner than later. Are you having headaches?
posted by Chutzler at 9:32 PM on November 25, 2011

Sorry, I take it back, this isn't a kind of syncope, it sounds like you're describing effects that are almost entirely neurological.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:36 PM on November 25, 2011

Response by poster: Ill see a doctor, but it is so hard hardto describe. No headaches.
posted by denverco at 9:36 PM on November 25, 2011

If you want to confirm that it's not blood sugar you can buy a glucose meter for twenty bucks at any pharmacy.
posted by XMLicious at 9:37 PM on November 25, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry for the typos, I'm on a phone. Blood glucose meter is a great idea.
posted by denverco at 9:40 PM on November 25, 2011

Write down everything in a notebook and take it to your dr appointment. List all questions and write down responses.
posted by Bun Surnt at 9:51 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

You say you drink 2 to 4 strong drinks a night, which can be dehydrating. Are you getting enough water the next day? Also, I don't know how long you've been drinking and if it used to be as much or more, but liver issues can cause a lot of symptoms. (I'm assuming you don't mean that you're somehow confused why you'd feel dizzy when you're drinking.) Hang-overs can sometimes manifest themselves as only a weirdly off-kilter feeling, or at least mine often do without any other symptoms.

When you feel like you're going to pass out, does your vision go white? Do you feel nauseated? I pass out from low blood pressure when it's exacerbated by heat or standing suddenly, and that's how I feel the few seconds beforehand. You might sometimes have low blood pressure even if it was high the time you got tested.

Are you locking your knees when you stand? That can mess up your circulation and mess you up even when you don't normally have low blood pressure.

Are you actually eating starch or sugar in the meals you are using to rule out low blood sugar? If you're not, then you can't rule that out. Another option is a dramatic blood sugar crash some moderate amount of time after eating something very starchy or sugary, which you might have misjudged as having eaten recently instead of a bit later (in the window of time it could crash).

Unfortunately, what you describe is a symptom of a ton of stuff. :/
posted by Nattie at 10:16 PM on November 25, 2011

Make sure you mention those 2-4 strong drinks a night to your doctor, they may want to check your liver enzymes.

In the mean time RECORD EVERYTHING. Get one of those hourly planner things and note down the rough contents of everything you put in your mouth with special attention to simple sugars and carbs rich things, caffeine, booze, and weird stuff. Make sure you also note hours slept each morning, with maybe a note about subjective quality, and all of your dizzy spells, points where you cant pay attention and weird feeling memory lapses.

This will help figure things out, especially since memory is involved.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:25 PM on November 25, 2011

Also, as Nattie says, don't rule out blood sugar until a physician tells you to.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:26 PM on November 25, 2011

This these episodes sound very much like absence seizures.

Absence seizures are characterized by momentary loss of consciousness for 10 to 20 seconds. They usually occur in patients between the ages of 4 and 14 years. Seventy percent of cases will not continue past the age of 18.

This is one possible diagnosis to discuss with your doctor.
posted by candasartan at 10:41 PM on November 25, 2011

*These episodes
posted by candasartan at 10:43 PM on November 25, 2011

I was feeling light-headed and faint, even when sitting down. Low blood pressure tends to cause problems when you change position from lying to sitting to standing. My problem turned out to be an inner ear infection.
posted by metahawk at 12:41 AM on November 26, 2011

Yeah, sounds like a form of epilepsy. You need a referral to a specialist.
posted by miss tea at 4:43 AM on November 26, 2011

Get your thyroid levels checked. If they are low it could produce these symptoms.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:10 AM on November 26, 2011

I don't think it's thyroid. I have major thyroid problems, and this has never happened to me or the other thyroid patients I know. Before I was medicated, I had trouble concentrating in the sense of feeling scattered and disorganized, but not loss of consciousness or fainting. And I didn't have notable memory problems.
I am not a doctor, but my first thought was "petite mal epileptic seizure". I think you need to see a specialist for this.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 7:33 AM on November 26, 2011

I am not saying this is what you have but this sounds similar to when I get acute panic attacks, even when I am not feeling anxious in any way. Especially the fighting off feeling like you are going to faint and then it 'shakes off' when you move and talk to friends. I also experience them more when I am in a large room or space and alcohol the night before (in any amount) as well as caffeine makes them more frequent.

Good luck seeing a doctor and getting answers. Keep us posted!
posted by click at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2011

You should really see a doctor. But I will say that I started experiencing symptoms like that, which turned out to be a side effect of the allergy medicine I was taking. Medicine which I had used for years with no ill effects. Turns out that "dizziness" was listed as a side effect, though, so there ya go.

If you are taking any medications, try switching them up if you can. (If it is inadvisable for you to mess with your meds, then talk to a doctor.)
posted by ErikaB at 11:32 AM on November 26, 2011

You need to know what your blood pressure is doing. Whether it's high or low or variable, it matters and could help explain things. And if it's high, that needs treatment. If you can spare a few bucks, get a home blood pressure meter and check your BP at home at the same time each day for a while. It's not acceptable for it to be high in the doctor's office and be dismissed as just a "white coat" thing. If you also have it in your pajamas, that's a problem you need to know about.

There's also a thing called "neurally mediated hypotension," which causes your blood pressure to go too low if you're standing still for a while. You can't diagnose that on your own -- it needs a "tilt table test."

Get this checked out but don't freak out over it -- bodies and brains produce all sorts of very weird sensations, and most of them are nothing more than a benign nuisance. It's better to let a doctor rule out the very rare serious possibilities, and save yourself years of needless worry.
posted by Corvid at 1:31 PM on November 26, 2011

Have you tried cutting down on the booze to see if it makes a difference the next day?
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:22 PM on November 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the tips everyone. Some responses:

1) I have tried stopping drinking, and I can still have these effects.
2) Some days i drink plenty of water, others nowhere near enough.
3) I will start cataloging to see if these are related to anything.
4) These happen for only very brief moments. Think of it like you are driving down the, and then for only the briefest of moments, you feel like you weren't there. According to people with me, it looks like I'm not concentrating, but I don't nod off.
5) I don't take any medications regularly.
6) Liver enzymes is interesting -- I'm going to cut the drinking anyways, so this could be helpful.
7) Click -- can you discuss the acute panic attacks thing? That is exactly how it feels -- I have to "shake it off," can't really tell why I am feeling that way, and then things get better. Maybe blood pressure related to anxiety?
posted by denverco at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2011

Best answer: On the panic front, a lot of people have anxiety problems the day after drinking, especially as they get past their relatively invulnerable early 20s. The post-drinking blood sugar drop isn't helpful in this respect, and caffeine makes it worse. The fact that you tried stopping and the symptoms didn't go away wouldn't mean that this isn't the problem, because withdrawal can make you feel pretty bad in the same way for a while. Try looking up anxiety and alcohol, or panic attacks and alcohol.

You should still get yourself checked out, even if you think this is probably what it is. If you can afford it, there's no good reason not to get the crazy emergency stuff ruled out. It would also be a good opportunity to ask for some advice on cutting out the alcohol.
posted by Adventurer at 9:53 PM on November 26, 2011

Some days i drink plenty of water, others nowhere near enough.

If you are experiencing dehydration, that coupled with unusually frequent urination can be a sign of untreated diabetes.
posted by XMLicious at 10:17 PM on November 26, 2011

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