Not Lyme... Not Mono... Apparently not meningitis...
July 18, 2016 4:10 PM   Subscribe

16 year old son. He had an ear infection with antibiotics... he had an upper respiratory infection with antibiotics. Now strange symptoms... more after the jump...

5 doctor visits, including one ER, in the past 30 days. Blood tests have ruled out mono, lyme's, c diff, and, apparently, meningitis. He still has a stiff neck, depression, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. What in the hell could still be wrong with my son? They are recommending counseling.
posted by brownrd to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IANAD; West Nile virus?
posted by cooker girl at 4:15 PM on July 18, 2016

Response by poster: Gastroenterologist is next.
posted by brownrd at 4:29 PM on July 18, 2016

I would be gobsmacked if the GI doesn't come up with this themselves, but in my opinion (IANYD) your son should be evaluated for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's or ulcerative colitis). Fevers, nausea, and diarrhea in an adolescent after serial courses of antibiotics is not an atypical picture.
posted by telegraph at 4:32 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

It is possible that your son's body is reacting against the antibiotics or that the antibiotics have upset his intestinal flora. Could it be food poisoning? I'm not a professional, but when my son gets like that it's usually food related and I limit his food intake to rice crackers, baked potatoes, apple sauce and tea, then some yogurt. Seeing the Gastroenterologist is a good idea, I hope he will feel better soon, take care.
posted by dragonbaby07 at 4:40 PM on July 18, 2016

Antibiotics are hard on the gut and the gut is about 70% of the immune system. Has anything been done to repair the gut damage, such as eating yogurt?
posted by Michele in California at 4:57 PM on July 18, 2016

Response by poster: Michele, yogurt AND fermented foods (sauerkraut). Non-pasteurized (I make them here).
posted by brownrd at 5:01 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Migraine? My son had an onset of migraine with very similar symptoms to your son around that age. This was 2 years ago. Heat, summer storms, unstable atmosphere all made them worse. He didn't have the typical pain either just the nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and extreme fatigue. We made the rounds with all the docs like you're doing and ended up with a neurologist last who diagnosed migraine.
Good luck with this, it's frustrating and scary.
Hope you have some answers soon.
posted by It'sANewDawn at 5:09 PM on July 18, 2016

If they've tested for Lyme, have they tested for the other major tick-borne diseases?

Has he had any kind of rash? If so, did they test for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? A friend-of-a-friend just got diagnosed with it after many months of mysterious illness, even though she had never been in the areas where it's most common.
posted by belladonna at 5:26 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've had two friends pass the Lyme disease test and continue to have symptoms for months, only to later be diagnosed with it and have successful treatment. I don't know the specifics but apparently false negatives are pretty common especially in the early stages. I'd ask to be retested.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:51 PM on July 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

My brother had Guillain-Barré syndrome when he was a teen. It was very difficult to diagnose, but those symptoms remind me of his.
posted by djinn dandy at 6:14 PM on July 18, 2016

Have all those tests run again. They're not infallible. Especially get meningitis tested again.

Also look into Panda. Not likely, but you'll want it on your radar, as most docs won't consider it. He's old for this, though.

And Guillain–Barré syndrome.

Counseling? To help him deal with the symptoms, not to find a cause, please.

Also remember that the infections and antibiotic treatment may be unrelated, or may be the result of a common cause. Just because they're salient in your mind doesn't make them causative. I caution you only so that you don't get fixated on them. My mother went to the ER in a lot of pain and mentioned she'd had a kidney removed years ago. A zillion tests and 12 hours later they had no idea what it was. With the next shift, a new doc came in and found Shingles in about 20 seconds. The new doc wasn't distracted by the kidney loss.
posted by Capri at 6:18 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I recently had a terrible terrible experience with antibiotics giving me GI issues. I would try prilosec (possibly under doctor supervision) and see if that helps. If it does, it might not be the right time to be introducing fermented foods yet, he may actually have damage to his stomach that needs to be healed before you try to repair the imbalance. I think that trying to move too fast from "stomach issues requiring prilosec" to "get off prilosec and introduce keffir etc" was actually part of my problem so I would be careful trying to self-heal gut issues too early.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:23 PM on July 18, 2016

Change doctors.
posted by srboisvert at 7:54 PM on July 18, 2016

It could also be a severe reaction [NYT] to the antibiotics.
posted by Mchelly at 8:07 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming the meningitis test was for both bacterial and viral. They both present similarly, but are different illnesses, so I thought I'd mention it just in case. (The one we hear about in the news all the time is the bacterial one, I had the viral one when I was a kid).
posted by A hidden well at 8:48 PM on July 18, 2016

Depression should be treated with counseling, so that's not a ridiculous proposal. Perhaps the treatment team thinks that, at this point, your son's issues are more psychological than medical (if one can even split the world that way, which I hesitate to do). Perhaps your son has had an underlying psychological illness, which has been excaccerbated by the medical one, but is now the bigger problem as the medical illness resolves.

These are just guesses as to how their proposals could be reasonable. But what seems missing here is why they haven't been explaining their thinking to you with clarity.

I would go back to them and basically ask your same question: "It seems like this was a medical problem and you want to treat it psychologically. Can you explain?"

Your son, being 16, has a lot of independent agency in reality (if not under the law) and you might not really know what's going on with him. Suppose for the sake of argument that he revealed to a psychologist some symptoms in confidence which he hasn't told you about, for which psychotherapy would be a really good option. You wouldn't want to get in the way of him getting the help he needs.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 5:36 PM on July 19, 2016

Has he really had a fever for 30 days straight? That would be very unusual. It never went away?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:38 PM on July 20, 2016

Response by poster: Diagnosis: Lyme Disease. The first test was a false negative. Thank you all so much!
posted by brownrd at 8:26 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

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