Does this sound serious? Do I need to go to a doctor?
January 19, 2015 6:53 PM   Subscribe

My current condition is that I feel woozy, nauseous, and short of breath and it seems like there’s something wrong with my cognition. I’m not delirious, but I wouldn’t trust myself to do advanced math. I feel cold even though it's warm and I'm wrapped up and I’m running a mild fever (99.3).

Earlier today, I had to get out of the shower because I felt like I was going to fall if I stayed in there. I was out of breath from having stood for so long in the shower (perhaps 15 minutes). That’s quite unusual and I normally don’t get out of breath from something like that. This has gotten a bit worse since then and I get out of breath from sitting up, and even more out of breath if I stand for a bit.

Normally, I’d consider going to the doctor if I was in this condition, but it’s extremely difficult for me to get around right now (see this for context), so I’d like to avoid going anywhere if at all possible.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If it were me in this condition, I would be headed to the doctor ASAP. Even with the ankle issues.
posted by cooker girl at 6:59 PM on January 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

Get a friend to take you to urgent care.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:59 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, this sounds serious. Please go see a doctor ASAP. Like tonight. Please call a friend, a taxi, or 911 and get to a doctor. Please let us know that you've done this since you're asking anon. Good luck.
posted by quince at 7:02 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You need a doctor. Get a friend or a cab to take you.
posted by dilettante at 7:03 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get to an emergency room or urgent care (but they might send you to the ER because that's common protocol with anything questionable in the chest so maybe just go there).

Call a cab or a friend, or if those aren't options call an ambulance.

The worst thing that happens is you feel a little sheepish. Being abruptly out of breath is a big red flag.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Generally, shortness of breath that lasts for any length of time is something worth getting checked out for sure.
posted by the jam at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I felt the same way earlier this week, and my husband made me go to urgent care. I had bronchitis (I didn't FEEL like I had bronchitis) but the doctor told me that, based on my xrays, it would have turned into pneumonia if I hadn't come in. YMMV, of course, but this a brutal time for illnesses.
posted by Ruki at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Urgent care. If you can't get a friend to take you, maybe get an Uber or a cab.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:24 PM on January 19, 2015

Nthing that shortness of breath is nothing to mess around with.
posted by kassila at 7:33 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I suggest you go not to urgent care, but to an actual emergency department. Urgent care may not be equipped to work you up for serious issues like shortness of breath and confusion, unless the shortness of breath is because you're congested and you are feeling woozy and confused because of a fever (was that temperature oral, or taken some other way? Because thermometers in your ear or under your arm are notoriously unreliable).

IANYD/TINMA but urgent cares are for colds, flus, sprained ankles.... not for shortness of breath and altered mental status.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:40 PM on January 19, 2015 [9 favorites]

And by the way, when you're experiencing serious symptoms like shortness of breath and confusion, that's what ambulances are for. The mobility thing is not an issue, have EMS pick you up.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:41 PM on January 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

Despite that what she told you is not medical advice, if treehorn+bunny suggests you call an ambulance, call an ambulance. Don't let your impaired cognition keep you from seeking help. Emergency departments exist because sometimes people get sick and need to be evaluated promptly.
posted by telepanda at 7:46 PM on January 19, 2015 [16 favorites]

Data point: my condition last week was similar, but not as bad, e.g. no fever. My HMO has a nursing line, so I called them. The nurse made me an appointment for 9 am the next day, but stressed that if the shortness of breath got any worse, I should seek help immediately. The shortness of breath was definitely a red flag. She had been asking me questions in a routinely sympathetic matter, and then when I answered that one in the affirmative, all her alarm bells seemed to start ringing.

So the answers to your questions are YES and YES. Go to a doctor no later than first thing tomorrow. Quite possibly sooner.

As for the ankle issue: what happens if you sprain your ankle, or both ankles, at home, while you're feeling this bad or worse? Just go. If you need to psych yourself out somehow, tell yourself you just might meet some nice ER doctor who happens to have the cure for your ankles.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:06 PM on January 19, 2015

Additional notes:
-The nurse refused to wait until the following day, when my PCP was available.
-At my appointment they loaded me up with some especially kickass antibiotics.
-Antibiotics might have saved Jim Henson's life if he had come to the hospital a few hours earlier.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:14 PM on January 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Second going to the ER.

Some of what you've described experiencing is at least consistent with Ehlers-Danlos and other joint hypermobility syndromes such as people were suggesting in your previous question. From the Hypermobility Syndromes Association website:
One of the most common concerns is the sensation of feeling dizzy or faint, or even passing out. This happens most often when an individual changes position, sitting from lying, standing from sitting etc. It is due to a drop in the blood pressure. We call this Orthostatic Hypotension (OH) or Orthostatic Intolerance (OI).

A similar problem, often relating to change in posture is palpitations. Here, the heartbeat is much faster (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)), and sometimes one can also experience shortness of breath and chest pain. One might experience both the fast heart beat and the drop in blood pressure.

Some people also experience abdominal symptoms such as bloating and pain. This may be associated with a change in bowel habit that fluctuates between constipation and diarrhoea. This may be due to mechanical problems in the bowel or to autonomic problems.

Many will also feel fatigued, experience headaches, blurred or ‘tunnel vision’, and notice difficulty with their ability to concentrate (so-called ‘brain fog’).

Temperature regulation can also be affected. One can feel inappropriately hot or cold, experience flushing / redness of the skin, excessive sweating, or even lose the ability to sweat.
But it's worrisome you haven't recovered since getting out of the shower.
posted by jamjam at 8:20 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Trouble breathing, mental fogginess, a fever? I personally would go to the hospital. What if you're having a small heart attack or stroke or something? This isn't the type of thing you google and self-diagnose on WebMD. This could be serious.

I always say this with these sorts of questions, is there any reason NOT to go to the doctor other than you apparently don't feel like it or it'll be a hassle? Those aren't great reasons if you actually need to see a doctor.
posted by AppleTurnover at 8:31 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

It was very lucky that you didn't fall in the shower and really hurt yourself. It could be anything, ranging from very serious to a more minor annoyance, but why gamble with your breathing and your sense of balance? Just go.
posted by dovesandstones at 9:02 PM on January 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Similar to my son's recent bout with sepsis, symptom-wise, and he really got chewed out for not getting to the ER sooner. He was in ICU for a couple of days and then in a regular room for two more days - he was very, very sick - more than he realized.

Please follow treehorn bunny's advice - always. He/she is an ER doctor and knows the answers.

Take care of yourself.
posted by aryma at 11:30 PM on January 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

As a general rule of thumb, if your question is "should I go to the doctor" you should go to the doctor. Even if it turns out to be nothing, you are way better safe than sorry.
posted by Billiken at 11:14 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

How long did this last after you got out of the shower? I'm not saying this is nothing -- if you're worried, of course you should see a doctor! -- but I will say that this happens to me semi-frequently when I stay in a really hot shower for too long. I have to lay down for maybe 10 minutes and then I'm fine. I've always been a little sensitive to very hot, steamy environments (for example, I can't stand saunas for more than a minute or two, and hot tubs for maybe 5 minutes before I need a break). Anyway, this is just to say that if you laid down for a few minutes after the shower and felt ok, it's POSSIBLE it was more of a reaction to the hot shower rather than a symptom of something big and scary. If it takes longer than a few minutes to go away and/or is stressing you out, for sure go and see a doctor.

Another option if your insurance has it is a nurse help line. My insurance has a phone number I can call for free and a triage nurse will let me know whether it's a "treat at home and here's what you should do," "make an appointment," or "go to the ER immediately" sort of thing. I've always felt like I got good advice and felt more confident in whatever I ended up doing. And, because I have an HMO, they were sometimes able to get me access to same-day appointments so I didn't have to pay for the ER visit (YMMV). Anyway, wouldn't hurt to call and get an actual medical opinion if you have access to this type of service.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:54 PM on January 20, 2015

Hope you are feeling better! If you see this, an update would be appreciated.
posted by Specklet at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

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