Can you help me to diagnose this odd visual/neuro problem that I am having?
December 3, 2011 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I am having these dizziness/mental/perception issues that I need help diagnosing. I will see a doctor as soon as it is possible for me. I am looking for some insight.

First things first, I am going to see a doctor soon for this. I am asking for help here to try to narrow down what my problem might be. I have been having weird perception or neurological issues for quite a while. Here is what I experience:

- Feels almost like being very tipsy. Hard to concentrate, hard to focus eyes.
- Typically happens in large rooms. I have noticed it happening with large groups.
- If I turn my focus to a projector in the room (a screen), it feels like it gets much better.
- Might be related to fluorescent lighting.

The issue is not a minor one. It has significantly interfered with my professional life. At these large group meetings I feel almost as if I am tired and falling asleep, but I am not. I have to "shake off" the feeling and it is persistent. The above observations are just the best I can offer.

Some things I have tried to see if it would help:
- Actually bought a blood glucose tester when I was feeling odd and my blood glucose was normal (~92).
- I have tried drinking coffee right before, sleeping plenty, not drinking alcohol. Same effect.
- Happens even when standing in a very well lit room. I have to rock back and forth because I feel so uncomfortable. I can't focus on what is being said.


1) Friday at 4:00PM, having just eaten and not tired, I am standing in a room with about 100 other people watching an important speaker. About 1:00 into his speech, I start having trouble focusing with my eyes, I feel very strange, I keep having to "shake off" the weird feeling. I feel hot.

2) Thursday sitting in a conference room with fluorescent lights watching a speaker. Same feeling, but it gets much better if I turn and look at the projection screen.

Any ideas? Blood pressure is normal/bit high, blood glucose is fine. Eyes are good because of laser surgery. I do drink caffeine and alcohol sometimes, but I tried refraining.
posted by denverco to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are probably at least a hundred different things that will produce the symptoms that you describe. This, being the Internet, will cause at least a dozen different people who have had one of the hundred different things to comment on their thing that caused the similar symptoms and the probability that their thing is your thing is pretty darn low. See a doctor. Find out what your thing actually is.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:04 AM on December 3, 2011

BY the way - isn't this the very same question that you asked one month ago and received answers to?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:05 AM on December 3, 2011

Not even a month ago - a week ago!

OP, if you don't even remember asking this almost exact question last week, you need to call your doctor's office ASAP and get an appointment that is also ASAP. A neuro workup might be a good idea.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on December 3, 2011 [7 favorites]

Also, print out this question and the previous one and show them to your doc.
posted by rtha at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2011

Please go see a doctor as soon as possible, this is very concerning and we really can't diagnose you over the internet.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:00 PM on December 3, 2011

It sounds to me like it could be anxiety-related, but that would have to be a diagnosis of exclusion.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2011

As I was reading the question, I thought I was having deja-vu.

But no - still you - and you still need a doctor. If you can't afford it, there are free clinics and teaching hospitals that will help for free/cheap/a sliding scale.

AskMefi can't help you, dude. You need a doctor. ASAP.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2011

Yes, print these questions out and take them to your doctor. You say you're already going to see a doctor, so that's good. We can speculate, but those are pretty broad symptoms, as Poet_Lariat says (and Made Of Star Stuff said earlier). It sounds like you've already tried (most of[1]) the obvious stuff like blood sugar, caffeine intake, alcohol, sleep, so now you need to see a doctor who can examine you in person.

Keep a notebook of when you have these symptoms, how long they last, and how much you eat/drink/sleep, in case a pattern emerges. It can help to write down the way you felt as soon as possible each time (especially if there's a prodrome or something). Feel free to include apparently-irrelevant details. Bring it to your doctor appointment.

[1] Click's suggestion of anxiety or panic attacks is a good one too. Is work stressful? Do you have any simmering disagreements with coworkers?

If you can, you might want to minimize the amount of driving you do until you get checked out. At the very least, try to be aware so you can pull over and wait for it to pass if it happens while you're on the road. Be safe.
posted by hattifattener at 1:34 PM on December 3, 2011

Forget what I said about drinking and anxiety on the other thread. You need to get this checked out. Set yourself an alarm on your phone and/or on your computer, wherever you can set an alarm that includes a note about what the alarm's for, that tells you to 1) call a doctor and make an appointment and 2) set a new alarm for the appointment. Do this now. Before you go on to the next comment.

This might well be an easy problem to fix but you are not going to be able to find out what it is without being examined by a doctor. A doctor you need to tell about your most extreme and embarrassing examples of memory loss. Minimizing the problem can't change what the problem is; it can only affect your ability to get help.
posted by Adventurer at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2011

I have this too, and the three (independent?) causes I have isolated are 1) anxiety, 2) acid reflux/stomach issues, and 3) dehydration. You could try treating the second two and see if it helps. I also smoke cigarettes to get rid of the spaciness and concentrate, but I don't recommend that.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2011

Sounds like to me you just need to be sufficiently distracted so your listening concentration can focus better. I can't pay attention very well unless I'm doing something at the same time to distract the hands and eyes. I concentrate better if I'm doodling on a piece of paper while listening. Folding and unfolding a single piece of origami repeatedly, trying to write the alphabet in reverse order without writing it forwards first, doodling Calvin/Hobbes snowmen situations, writing block letters of random words the speaker says, etc. I start to zone out if I've got nothing to fiddle with.
posted by Quarter Pincher at 1:47 PM on December 3, 2011

I see in your other post you said that you drink 2-4 strong drinks a night -- does that perhaps mean that you really drink 3-5 drinks a night, or more? IANAD so I can't say how that much alcohol could be affecting you, but when you do see a Doctor, please make sure to mention the amount of alcohol you drink, being as specific as possible.
posted by imalaowai at 1:48 PM on December 3, 2011

Sorry for the duplicate post everyone. However, I asked again after trying to exclude many of the things suggested by the last commenters. Specifically, I slept a lot, stopped caffeine almost entirely, didn't drink alcohol during the week, had my blood sugar checked, and went to check my blood pressure.

So, I apologize if it sounds too similar. A doctor visit is undoubtedly the next step for me. However, it isn't an option for the next few months.

The internet is a helpful research for odd issues like this because of the likelihood of finding someone with similar issues. A doctor in the past told me that he hadn't heard of my symptoms and to try to sleep more. I tried to explain that I sleep 7-8 per night and that I don't feel tired when these incidents happen.

Driving is not an issue because thus doesn't happen in that setting- maybe natural light? Not having to focus on only one thing?
posted by denverco at 8:10 AM on December 4, 2011

A doctor visit is undoubtedly the next step for me. However, it isn't an option for the next few months.

Why? Are you in the back of the beyond where there's no doctor except the one who flies in every four months? Are you flat broke, and there are zero free or low-cost clinics in your area? Otherwise, you're making excuses.

You've asked, twice; you've gotten answers. You say you've tried the stuff that people suggested in your question from a week ago. A week is not very long, so you could keep trying that stuff, but as has been pointed out in this thread, no one on the internet can diagnose you. You are going to have to see a doctor about this, and the sooner the better. If it's related to anxiety, waiting is only going to make it worse. Likewise pretty much anything else.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on December 4, 2011

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