UTI and fatigue
January 30, 2017 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Could a UTI be causing my extreme and debilitating fatigue?

Background: I am a woman in my early 40s. From December 15, I had a stubborn sinus infection. By January 4, it had let up some but was still hanging on and I was having trouble with fatigue. That day, I was feeling tired far beyond anything I would have expected. I started to think that maybe I needed to try taking vitamins again, and at lunch I went to Walgreen's to look for some that I could tolerate. While I was standing in the aisle looking, I started to feel like I was going to pass out or collapse. I did make it out and took the rest of the day off work and continued to feel like hell. That evening, I went to an urgent care clinic that noted mild tachycardia and pulse oximetry of 92%, and my blood pressure was very high for me but not anything unusual for anyone else. They tried to give me meclizine and I mentally wrote them off since they did not seem to have heard a word I had said. The next day, I woke up and felt horrible and again took off work. I went to a walk in clinic at my own doctor's office, and they did some blood work and a basic exam. Thyroid, cbc, and B12 came back normal. I don't have the exact numbers and don't know what all they checked other than those, but I'd guess thyroid was only TSH. That evening I continued to have episodes of exhaustion and of sometimes feeling like I was about to collapse and die.

Over the next couple of weeks, I mostly just felt way too tired, and again missed some work from it. This Saturday I was again having episodes of debilitating exhaustion and felt like I would collapse, and Saturday night I suddenly realized I had been wondering on and off for several weeks if I might have a UTI although things had never progressed to the point that I was certain that I did. I had test strips around (long story), and the first one immediately came up strongly positive. I checked again Sunday morning, same result. I drank lots of tea and water and got back to the walk in clinic (very lucky to have one open on Sundays). The test there came back negative (it's not with a dipstick but something else), but the PA prescribed three days of Cipro based mainly on my symptoms. I am now halfway through the prescription. The symptoms that were unambiguously UTI symptoms have stopped, although I still have some bloating. I may still be having some mild tachycardia (under 120 bpm) at times. The UTI test strips now show leukocytes but not nitrites.

Could a long untreated UTI be causing this horrible fatigue? If it could, how long should it take to really feel better? When should I go back to the doctor about this? Right now I am planning to call Wednesday if things don't turn around. I do not cry easily and I have repeatedly been near tears from frustration and misery.
posted by sockasm to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
UTIs can absolutely cause the symptoms you describe, especially if you have had another infection prior. But the level of fatigue is extreme and I would definitely follow up with your doctor if you still feel like this in a day or two. Good luck.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:20 PM on January 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

From December 15, I had a stubborn sinus infection. By January 4, it had let up some but was still hanging on and I was having trouble with fatigue.

(Unless I missed something) You don't mention how this was treated. I have had extreme fatigue due to coming off steroids. It did not get better until I took a lot of iron over the course of some weeks.

Steroid withdrawal is the absolute worst withdrawal I have ever been through. So, were you prescribed steroids? They can be really hard on the body and doctors are terrible about not mentioning how really ass kicking they can be.
posted by Michele in California at 6:45 PM on January 30, 2017

No, no steroids. It seemed like it was probably viral, so I just waited it out and didn't go to a doctor for it.
posted by sockasm at 6:48 PM on January 30, 2017

I once had a UTI that felt like the flu and i was completely exhausted and felt terrible, so imho, yes.
posted by danapiper at 6:52 PM on January 30, 2017

My partner had similar at your age, turned out to be MS. Have you ever experienced numb legs, tingling, or weird vision episodes, but not bad enough to talk to a doctor about? I hope it's not that as if it is you could find it only getting worse.
posted by tillsbury at 6:55 PM on January 30, 2017

I had fatigue that was horrible and wouldn't go away, and it turned out to be pneumonia. I'm mainly mentioning this because you say all this started out with a sinus infection--have they given your lungs a thorough check? In my case, my only symptoms were the fatigue and weakness--no cough or difficulty breathing. I hope you get this resolved and start feeling 100% soon!
posted by epj at 8:19 PM on January 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pulse ox of 92% seems terribly low. Was the doctor not concerned about that? Did they do a chest xray to check for pneumonia or any tests that looked at your heart or blood?

I had similar symptoms last month and went in a few times (eventual diagnosis of "virus" and "post viral syndrome") but my red blood cells, heart and lungs were thoroughly checked out and my pulse ox was a hearty 97% first visit and 98% the second time.
posted by fshgrl at 8:29 PM on January 30, 2017

I had extreme fatigue and low blood ox and it turned out to be fibromyalgia and sleep apnea from the fibro.

I did all the blood tests, too. Couldn't find out what it was. Settled in fibro, but it could have been CFS had I less pain. It was work stress that exacerbated it.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 11:51 PM on January 30, 2017

Have they checked your vitamin D levels? When mine are low I feel terribly fatigued and half dead. It's summer here and there is way more sun than I want and yet they are still crazy low. If you're in the northern hemisphere, it could easily be a contributing factor, but I think you should see your doctor for a thorough check up regardless.
posted by kitten magic at 1:29 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

As others have mentioned, a number of maladies could be at play here. But as a chronic sufferer of UTIs, I can tell you they can indeed cause incredible fatigue and, in particularly serious cases, confusion
posted by DrAstroZoom at 12:13 PM on January 31, 2017

Just in case anyone ever wonders, it seems the problem really was the UTI. At least, everything got better with three days of Cipro and my energy level has been back to normal for over a week now.
posted by sockasm at 6:46 PM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

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