Do I have a Mysterious Disease?
July 20, 2006 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Do these symptoms add up to anything? Repeated sores/cracks at the corners of my mouth, night sweats, fatigue...and I am posting anonymously because there is more inside...

The mouth sores are cracks right at the outside of my lip corners, not in the interiors. They come and go periodically. I also had an episode of a 'cut' of some sort on my tongue. And, I am embarrassed to say, I have occassionally something similar on my taint (girl taint). It almost seems like a tear from rough sex, but it's not that, and it hurts for 4-5 days and then slowly heals, just like the mouth things. The night sweats have been here for about 4 months, I thought it was Zoloft but I went off that to test and I am still getting them regularly. I also have been having very loose stools.

I realize that I should ask a doctor, but the last time I was there I complained about the night sweats. She said "huh, I don't know" and left it at that. So my question is, should I consider all of these things symptoms of a possibly serious illness and go through all the trouble of switching doctors, or just chalk it up to miscellaneous symptoms and try to get more or less fiber or something? In general I take good care of myself, I walk every day & eat lots of organic veggies.
posted by anonymous to Science & Nature (38 answers total)
Almost sounds like dehydration....
posted by sourwookie at 11:41 AM on July 20, 2006

I find I am more prone to mysterious small scratches by not being hydrated enough. I always forget that I have to drink more to make up for the heat in the summer.
posted by nadawi at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2006

damn me and my lack of preview. so, seconded, i guess.
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on July 20, 2006

What is a (girl) taint? Is this a dialect term?
posted by A189Nut at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2006

So my question is, should I consider all of these things symptoms of a possibly serious illness

You should consider them symptoms of possibly herpes or other things that need attention. Tell your doctor that you're getting sores near your mouth and genitals-- if she just nods, find a new doctor.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2006

It sounds like you should talk to the doctor again and mention all of these symptoms (hopefully while displaying a few for examination.) That may help the doc make a better observation.
posted by canine epigram at 11:45 AM on July 20, 2006

I (think) taint (at least here in the Southeast), referrs to that area between your (toddler words ahead) bottom and your pee-pee, as in, "It taint quite your bottom and taint quite your peepee."
posted by 4ster at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2006

4ster, while that is what the area is called, by her saying it's like a sore from rough sex, I'd guess she actually means the little flap of skin at the bottom of the vagina attatches the lips, which leads directly into the taint.
posted by nadawi at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2006

Does sound like dehydradtion. Also, the lip sores could be from excessive drooling while sleeping. Sounds silly, but I used to have this problem a lot.

And, even if not for this, I would suggest changing doctors. No answer should ever be 'huh'.

The taint is the part between the cooter and the butt.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2006

Find a new doctor anyway. When a doctor doesn't "know", they should run "tests" to find out. Aside from the taint issue, it does sound a lot like dehydration. (IANAD)
posted by purephase at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2006

Switch doctors. One who doesn't know, can't be bothered to find out, and isn't helpful is not a doctor you need. Plus, you're not going to helping things in any way if it is something that needs attention that your not getting, or if you're stressing out worrying about it.

Plus, a competent doctor might be able to cure the discomfort from the symptoms, if not the underlying cause. Creams for the girl-part troubles, etc can make a world of difference if you're in pain.
posted by cgg at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2006

The internet is not for this. You could have anything from B vitamin deficiency to sexually transmitted herpes to Behcet disease to active tuberculosis to secondary syphilis to acute hysteria. The internet, however, cannot tell you.

If it were easy to tell by posting anonymously to the internet, do you think we would still have doctors?

Here is the question you should have asked: "I'm not satisfied with my doctor's approach to my illness, what should I do?"

Answer: Talk to your doctor again. Tell her you're not satisfied. If you don't get satisfaction, find a new doctor.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:04 PM on July 20, 2006

ikkyu2: while the internet might not be the place for this, if Anon drinks a lot of water over the next couple days and suddenly no sores, no loose stools, no night sweats then wouldn't the internet be just the place? I don't know what kind of situation the poster is in, but I don't have insurance and so sometimes I have to take the less than ideal approach to getting healthy which means trying to figure out if it is something minor before spending the 80 bucks to have a doctor tell me to drink juice and take tylenol. Just a thought.
posted by nadawi at 12:12 PM on July 20, 2006 [2 favorites]

The internet is not for this. You could have anything from...

Hear, hear...
posted by frogan at 12:12 PM on July 20, 2006

wouldn't the internet be just the place? I don't know what kind of situation the poster is in, but I don't have insurance

"I don't have a hammer, so I'm going to drive this box of nails in using a banana instead."

posted by ikkyu2 at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

to Behcet disease

I had the same idea: it really sounds like Behcet

I love the Internet because it's the only place where I, a law school dropout, can actually diagnose people
posted by matteo at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

I think you should get pushy with your doctor about it and if she won't do anything, get another doctor.

Also, for the loose stool, try taking 1 or 2 Metamucil capsules a day. My doctor told me they even you out - no matter which side you're on, they bring you towards the middle. Something about the psyllium and water. I'm not a doctor, so it's beyond me.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2006

I have found that it can be hard to get doctors to persue solutions to problems when they don't really feel it's a problem. Symptoms like "I'm tired a lot" and "I get night sweats" and a host of others can result in just a shrug, some basic tests to make sure that there isn't something seriously wrong and the hopes you are happy with that. I had some weird things going on and it took me going through a number of doctors and being extremely persistant that something really was wrong with me until I finally found a doctor that helped get me fixed up.

If your doctor isn't helping you fix the problem, or doesn't think there is a problem to fix, find another and repeat this process until you find a good doctor that will get you better. From the sounds of it, it looks like the night sweats thing was more of a passing comment rather than, "Hey, I have night sweats and this is not a normal thing for me." Your best bet is to make a list of all the symptoms you have, how often they occur and anything that you think might be triggering them. The more prepared you are, the better your doctor can help you.
posted by chrisroberts at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2006

"I don't have a hammer, so I'm going to drive this box of nails in using a banana instead."

um. but if the water works wouldn't it be more like "i don't have a hammer, so why don't i try this shoe. hey, look the nail is in the wall just hte same as if i had used the tool." or if the water doesn't work "ok, the shoe didn't work, i guess now i should look into the cost of a hammer"

Oh, and Anon (just to bring this back on topic a little), for the taint try lotion and for the lips try chapstick.
posted by nadawi at 12:25 PM on July 20, 2006

taint (usually) = perenium
posted by raedyn at 12:33 PM on July 20, 2006

My first thought on the mouth cracks was B vitamin deficiency. Unless there are other things that make it not a good idea perhaps take a multivitamin and see if that part goes away?
posted by true at 12:34 PM on July 20, 2006

Nature's Answer makes a liquid B supplement.
posted by brujita at 12:41 PM on July 20, 2006

IANAD but if this is dehydration I will, well, I will do something. A constellation of symptoms such as this deserves further investigation--follow the advice to express your concern to your physician--do not minimize the symptoms or "forget to mention" one of them. If there is no further action and the symptoms persist see another physican, ask for a referral or come back here and we will continue encouraging you to see a doctor &/or offer diagnoses which will scare the hell out of you
posted by rmhsinc at 1:07 PM on July 20, 2006

Unless there are other things that make it not a good idea perhaps take a multivitamin and see if that part goes away?

The "other things" are giving the disease time to advance if it's something progressive.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:10 PM on July 20, 2006

ikkyu2 - Assuming this poster is in the US, even a "good" insurance plan can require a $35 co-payment for every single visit to your primary care physician, and an even higher co-payment for visiting a specialist. $35 to go back and complain to the unresponsive doctor, $35 to see a new PCP, $50 to go see the specialist the new PCP refers her to -- that's $120 before she's even got a diagnosis! I think AskMetafilter is the perfect place to ask if her symptoms sound serious enough to warrent so much effort and expense. If your professional, board-certified answer is "Yes, they're serious" then all fine and dandy, but there's no need to go attacking the OP for her question. She didn't ask you to diagnose her disease via the Internet.
posted by junkbox at 1:20 PM on July 20, 2006

More info on the perineum. Since you specified that yours is a 'girl taint,' note that the terms barse and scranus do not apply here.
posted by horsewithnoname at 1:23 PM on July 20, 2006

Is there a term when a slang word (t'aint = it isn't the ass or the dick/vag) also serves because it suits (taint = dirty)? Anyway, it is a very quaint and twee term, I look forward to finding a use for it in conversation.
posted by A189Nut at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2006

I don't even consider going to a doctor till I totally investigate something myself online. No insurance and I cannot afford to do otherwise. Any health budget has to go to my bipolar meds first. So, sorry, doc, I think it's fine she asked here. Her alternative was probably to do nothing.

As to the question, have you considered this might be more than one thing going on? Mouth cracks can be vitamin B deficiency while night sweats can be a lot of things. If you have swollen lymph glands I'd definitely go back to the doc-in fact if they continue I'd go anyway, broke or not.
posted by konolia at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2006

I 9th or 10th the layman's diagnosis of dehydration. I had some of the very same symptoms for weeks until I collapsed one day at work and was diagnosed with severe dehydration. The weird thing, I thought, was that I am never without some sort of beverage, but the doctor explained to me that sodas and juices do not hydrate well and that I simply had to drink more water. Are your lips in general chapped? Mine were chapped along with the cuts and he said constantly chapped lips was one of the first major signs of dehydration.
posted by Ugh at 3:31 PM on July 20, 2006

The mouth thing sounds like a condition I had called perioral dermatitis. (I had it alongside a case of ceboral dermatitis.) Nasty stuff, but actually a snap to get rid of if that's what you have. Check google images.
posted by jxpx777 at 3:49 PM on July 20, 2006

I just have to ask how some of you came to a tentative diagnosis of dehydration--none of the symptoms are typical of dehydration and the question is--if she is in fact dehydrated why is she dehydrated. There was no mention of persistent diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, thirst, weakness, etc. She says she eats well and describes the sores as coming and going. Honestly, I am just curious--I personally would be much more concerned regarding something compromising her immune system--I know this is off topic but I am curious how many zeroed in on dehydration. Thanks frank
posted by rmhsinc at 4:06 PM on July 20, 2006

Doctors often resent the idea that sometimes people who haven't sipped from the font of institutional knowledge might actually be able to recommend steps that don't involve seeing a high priest of Asclepius. Which isn't to say that there aren't many, many times when "See a doctor" is the best advice, just that institutional arrogance seems to often be an occupational hazard.

To the asker— drink more water. See if that works. If not, see a doctor.
posted by klangklangston at 4:10 PM on July 20, 2006


well, she mentioned fatigue and loose stools. and the splitting of the lip and the other area are things that happen to me when i'm dehydrated.
posted by nadawi at 4:29 PM on July 20, 2006

Erm... wouldn't the loose stools and night sweats be -causing- dehydration of their own, not caused by? So, no, I'm not a doc either, but it sounds to me as though yes, there's dehydration going on, but only as a secondary condition to whatever's causing it to begin with. However, I unfortunately have no idea what -that- might be.

I'm another of those with no health insurance (and -cannot- get any, even if I had a decent income), and I see nothing wrong with using the 'net first. Listen to your body. In my experience, it's not -that- difficult to tell when something's seriously wrong and needs a doctor. (Obviously, there are exceptions. Don't start on me. *flee*)
posted by po at 5:41 PM on July 20, 2006

I think that asking a doctor is appropriate for this, and that, yes, a doctor that doesn't listen means that you should pursue a differnt one. But:

I have found that it can be hard to get doctors to persue solutions to problems when they don't really feel it's a problem.

God, I couldn't agree more. This is why I try to self-diagnose before coming in. Not to mention it's a waste of time if it's not something serious, and the doctor tends to treat you less seriously if you--even through ignorance--are there for more minor issues. If I go in for a flu, say, he's not going to do anything for me--there's not much he could do.

Yes, the unwashed, uneducated masses can make incorrect diagnoses (both over- and under-cautious). However, I do not think education/preparedness is something to avoid, despite the opinion of many in the medical profession.

Besides, this is somewhat of a "should I go in, or wait, or not at all?" question. This sort of thing is not done by the doctor, it's done by the front desk nurse (if you're lucky) or assistant (if you're not) taking the call. They're the ones deciding when you get seen according to your symptoms--not the M.D. They may have a lot of insight from experience, more than the collective internet--or they might not.

That said, you may want to give your current doctor another shot--she may have been distracted or may not have understood the importance of what you were saying. But, you probably don't want someone like that for a doctor.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:00 PM on July 20, 2006

I get the lip cracks when I get tired and stressed, and if I take a high-dose multivitamin for a few days (like Berrocca or Airbourne) they go away. I always thought it was something to do with Zinc, but maybe not.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:08 PM on July 20, 2006

The first thing I thought when I read of your symptoms was: "Bechet's syndrome". The second thing I thought was: "You really need someone who's an actual doctor to come up with a diagnosis."
posted by bunglin jones at 12:33 AM on July 21, 2006

Go to the doctor. Seriously. You've got a list of troubling symptoms that you're concerned enough about to post anonymously to askme. They could be many things, some of them serious enough that you'd want to get them treated.

The dehydration hypothesis is a strange one. You may be dehydrated, but the evidence that you are is anecdotal at best, and based on a weird reading of your symptom list in which specific, recurring sores are transformed into a general propensity to pick up more scratches when dehyrated. Night sweats don't fit, regardless.

The people who suggest that "go to a doctor" is unreasonable advice are in a strange position. On the one hand, they're claiming that no expertise is needed to diagnose medical problems, or that the expertise of anecdote is sufficient, or that they're as expert as doctors; and on the other they seem to be suggesting that they do know more than a doctor, that visiting one in this situation would be jumping the gun or giving in to the tyranny of the expert.

I'm curious, about the differential diagnosis the dehydration folks are working off of? I mean, and I'm not trying to be alarmist because I have no idea what's going on with the poster, this cluster of symptoms is not an uncommon way for HIV to present during acute viremia. There are many many other things which might present this way (see ikkyu2's response). That's why going to a doctor is important, and ignoring the people who want to feel smarter than a doctor is a great idea, because doctors are trained to distinguish between dehydration and HIV in a way that nadawi is not. The fact that your doctor did a bad job at that either means you need to be more explicit, or get a new doctor. The thing is, even if drinking more water changes what's going on with your body, that does not mean that you were just dehydrated! Let me remind you that you've got a list of troubling symptoms--you need to figure out what they are.

"You've got a high fever and a stiff neck? I hate that, I always get stiff when I'm feverish. I'd say you've got a touch of the flu. I take a few aspirin and go to bed early, I always feel better in the morning....Meningitis you say? Sorry! When's the funeral?"
posted by OmieWise at 5:33 AM on July 21, 2006

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