How can I end my chronic illness?
January 16, 2006 11:53 PM   Subscribe

How can I end my chronic illness?

In October while travelling in SE Asia, I contracted dengue fever. Basically, it's a mosquito-borne virus that makes you very sick for 1-3 weeks typically. Problem is, ever since then I'm always sick with flu-like symptons. I get tired very easily, come down with headaches and often have sore throat, congestion, cough and my athsma kicks up like crazy. And I'm usually a healthy person!

Another problem is my physical condition. I have not gained any weight, but I've done almost zero exercise since becoming sick. My body will feel like working out, but when I get the time to do so I will get one of the above symptoms.

My doctor hasn't been able to do much except give me meds for the symptoms; i.e. a special inhaler or a stronger cough medicine. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do - maybe some home remidies, a vitamin or a new god I can pray to?
posted by b_thinky to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
How was the diagnosis proven?
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:04 AM on January 17, 2006

I've had dengue fever and made a full recovery. Maybe you picked up something extra?
posted by the cuban at 3:14 AM on January 17, 2006

Have you had further blood tests? There are a number of viruses (some mosquito borne, others you can get from working with meat, for instance) that can hang around a long, long time. I'd really want to get some more thorough testing done rather than assuming it's all the result of dengue fever.

In terms of new gods, I turn to Damballa in times of trouble.
posted by Jimbob at 3:44 AM on January 17, 2006

In many large cities, there are "travel doctors" that specialize in tropical diseases. You could see one for all the special vaccines you need pre-travel, and then follow up with them if you do come down with something. Have you consulted a travel doctor? I'm sure most family practitioners would not know enough about more "tropical" diseases. Also, are you seeing a specialist for your asthma? Any condition that affects your respiratory system when you have asthma are serious. You do not want to end up in the hospital for asthma.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:35 AM on January 17, 2006

It sounds like you could have complications from the virus... I would see another doctor or two and get other opinions...

Heck, if I knew more about what dengue fever is (I've heard of it but don't know much about it) I might almost suggest that what you complain of sounds sort of like a mononucleosis relapse... is dengue fever at all related? Can it maybe cause a relapse of mono?

"I've never had mono", you might be thinking.. but chances are (roughly 95%) that you have...

Another possibility, though pretty unlikely, is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome...

I hope you can find a doc who can figure you out, and I hope you feel better...
posted by twiggy at 7:59 AM on January 17, 2006

Absolutely positively get full bloodwork done. See a different doctor is yours is dragging his feet. It could be a very serious, unrelated condition for all you know.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:21 AM on January 17, 2006

FergieBelle is referencing doctors of infectious disease. Look one up in your city. They are typically the docs to visit when you need shots before over-seas travel. They are also more likely to be the ones to help you in this situation.
posted by onhazier at 8:44 AM on January 17, 2006

posted by anthill at 8:54 AM on January 17, 2006

A place to start if you're stuck is to call the communicable disease office at the public health department in your town or county. They will know exactly who you should see - they have a vested interest in making sure what ever you brought back from SE Asia isn't shared with others.
posted by Wolfie at 9:32 AM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: Dengue was diagnosed via blood test while in Indonesia. From what the doctors tell me, Dengue is only contagious for 5 days after you attain it - and only by blood. There is no vaccine or medication for dengue - they just put you on IVs for a while.
posted by b_thinky at 10:13 AM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: Here's another factor that might play in: I was sick with Dengue for about 3 weeks before finally going to the hospital. I had been feeling quite sick for a while, and having never heard of dengue before chalked it up to jet lag, then food poisoning, and then the day before I was scheduled to see a doctor I ended up passing out in a mall and had to be taken to the hospital.

Any idea on whether or not the delayed treatment would cause delayed illness?
posted by b_thinky at 10:17 AM on January 17, 2006

Is there a North American equivalent to dengue fever? 'cause those symptoms sound like my wife's, but she hasn't been out of the country (at least, not that I know of!)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2006

Is there a North American equivalent to dengue fever?

Here's the CDC's fact sheet. It looks like if you've never left the country (not counting Hawaii and territories) your risk is pretty low.
posted by sevenless at 11:15 AM on January 17, 2006

I thought dengue fever was supposed to clear up after a week or two.

Armchair diagnosis from a non-doctor: malaria is present in parts SE Asia, and has symptoms close to what you describe. I wouldn't expect Indonesian doctors to confuse the two diseases, but maybe you were unfortunate enough to contract them both and the second disease was overlooked? Generally malaria is more common in rural regions and dengue is more common in urban areas.

Like everyone else said: go find a specialist in infectious or tropical disease and get some bloodwork done.
posted by blue mustard at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2006

In July I was diagnosed with P. vivax malaria while working overseas, and suffered from headaches, bone pain, dysentery, 106 fever, etc. and it wasn't until I returned to Canada that I became fully healthy again (I returned in August but didn't heal fully until December). My problem was that I ended up having multiple complications from the medication given to 'cure' my malaria (Primaquine) made me even sicker (I landed in the hospital with severe anemia and bacterial pneumonia due to my immune system becoming so weak).

Even though I had seen 3 travel doctors specializing in infectious diseases, they all couldn't understand why I was having such severe reactions and my body was shutting down. I was too stubborn to withdraw from the fall semester, but was fortunate to be given a month off, and I slept. Even though my complications were seemingly under control with no re-emergence of malaria/drugs given for the dysentery/anemia, my body needed to sleep - and I had been denying it for too long. I did nothing for a month, and it helped immensely. While there is a chance my malaria could flare up again, I've never felt better.

So the moral of this story? I would suggest you be tested for the following things in order to find out what's wrong with you: anemia, malaria, TB, hepatitis, yellow fever (you can have a test to see if you've ever had it, it leaves a mark on your cells I'm told) and a good follow up appointment with a travel clinic in a large city (I had to travel to Toronto to get a good travel doctor). Your body goes through a lot fighting off tropical diseases, so take care of it.
posted by carabiner at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2006

There's no way to be sure over the internet, but I think carabiner has the right idea, which is that:

a) Your dengue fever is over by now.

b) While post-dengue-fever reactions have been reported, they are exceedingly rare, and generally described as single-organ-system autoimmune reactions, not the symptoms you describe.

c) You may have something else entirely unrelated to dengue fever, which something you may or may not have caught in Indonesia.

I'd second the idea of malaria screening; if you caught dengue, you got bit by a mosquito (Aedes sp), and if you got bit by one mosquito, maybe you got bit by others (Anopheles sp).
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:55 PM on January 17, 2006

Can I just de-rail here and say how much I value Ikkuyu's contributions here on AskMe.
When I returned from a 3 week stay in Brazil (certain that I had not been bitten when in Rio or Salvador de Bahia or Belen) I developed a weird viral illness 2 weeks later. Every joint swelled up and I couldn't walk. When my doc took bloods all she could say was there was some massive inflamatory reaction to something but it was now gone. ( and incidentally i managed to infect my partner, although the effects were much less severe on him) It took 4-6 weeks to feel normal. There are still times when I feel under the weather where my joints ache but apparently the damage was done by my body's overwhelming response/protective mechanism.
It may be Dengue, but it could also be one of the weird and wonderful viruses that your life was unused to up to now. Best of luck with the recovery.
posted by Wilder at 4:33 PM on January 17, 2006

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