Why am I so tired?
August 12, 2007 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Why am I so tired?

Ever since last weekend, I've been feeling worse and worse. I'm more tired and exhausted every day. And I really can't figure out what is wrong with me. But I should start from the start.
I'm slim, fit, healthy and young, and eat very healthily.
I started feeling out of sorts last weekend, after I had been out late. I drank Gatorade (which always makes me fell ill) on the way home, and I felt pretty terrible before going to bed. The next day, after dinner I felt weak, nauseated and I'm pretty sure that I had a mild fever. The glands in my neck were quite swollen.
On Tuesday I felt uncharacteristically tired, and went to bed two hours earlier than normal (doesn't even happen when I've got a cold).
By then I've started playing computer games again, which only ever happens when I'm under a lot of stress or sick (I know, kind of random).
Wednesday I start waking up tired (which continues, and has never ever happened to me before).
Thursday I can't finish my workout, which has never happened before in six years. Physically, now I'm always exhausted. I'm having a lot of trouble lifting stuff and walking long distances.
Friday I went out and stayed out late, but that was completely alcohol fueled. I felt absolutely terrible before going to bed.

Since the start of the week I've been feeling nauseated when I wake up, after breakfast and lunch, and when I go to bed. I've been eating a lot more than normal, and the glands in my neck (always has been a great indicator of how sick I am in the past) are about as swollen as they are when I have a cold. I have been having random, mild headaches. Previously I only have ever gotten headaches from lack of sleep.
I've been sleeping roughly about an hour more a night.

The only real biological hazards I've come across in the last month is getting EndCoat (a poisonous wood sealer) all over my hands and eating pork that wasn't cooked very well (everyone else that ate it is fine).

The worst part of it for me is that I can't think straight. My memory is terrible – I've started forgetting things that have been routine for years. Usually when I have a cold I feel like a vegetable for a week, and then I'm fine. This is different, I've been unable to accomplish anything at work for the last half of the week.
So far I doubt this is mono, as my throat is fine, and the gf is perfectly fine.

Oh, and I'm well aware of the fact that you are neither my doctor or nor likely a doctor at all. Please don't just tell me to seek medical attention, as I can't go to the hospital as it is likely not life threatening, I can't go to a clinic because my malady is not obvious and I can't go to my doctor because it is very unlikely that I will get a reasonable accurate diagnosis in the 10 minutes that I will get. So, before I can pursue medical attention (if it is needed at all), I need to narrow things down. So, Mefi, it's up to you – please help me figure this out.

I probably should have posted this anonymously, but whatever. If, for any reason it is needed, my email is in my profile.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Any possibility of an unnoticed tick bite and subsequent Lyme Disease?

You should see a doctor. Don't worry, they're used to vague complaints. If it's your regular doctor, they will work with you to figure things out. Better not to make excuses and just go.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the symptoms you describe don't really narrow it down. Anything from a flu to cancer can cause what you are feeling. I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but go see a doctor if you actually want to find out what's wrong with you. Or take a few days off to rest up and see if that sorts it out. It doesn't sound like you've given your body a chance to heal.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2007

posted by blue_beetle at 9:47 AM on August 12, 2007

And while you're there, ask them if you have CMV.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:47 AM on August 12, 2007

Fatigue and nausea, which appear to be your chief complaints, are incredibly non-specific--pathology in pretty much every body system can cause them.

I'm not sure what you're basing your assumption on that you won't get a "reasonable accurate diagnosis" in 10 minutes from your physician, since you're essentially asking Mefi (mostly random strangers with no medical training) to make the diagnosis. Your doctor has likely seen the chief complaint of "fatigue" many times and probably has a decent workup in his or her head, which includes a number of things we can't do here: look at you, examine you, quickly rule a number of conditions out, and order labs and studies.

Based on what you've said, the differential diagnosis includes everything from the flu to mono to CMV to HIV to cancer to cardiomyopathy and on and on. (Yes, lots of scary things on the list.) If you're concerned enough to be asking people on this website, I'd really give a physician a try. More often than not people who make their own diagnosis via the Internet are completely wrong.
posted by gramcracker at 9:49 AM on August 12, 2007

Your doctor can run tests in those 10 minutes that will help him diagnose you. I've gone in with vague issues and we were at least able to figure out what wasn't the problem.

My armchair diagnosis is that it sounds like mono. When I had it, my SO never got it and my throat problems didn't kick in until a few days into it I think. You could check out WebMd or a similar site. They have a symptom checker that may be of use to you. When I ran your symptoms, they seem to think it could be heat exhaustion, chronic fatigue syndrome, mono, or acute sinusitis. There were 15 other possibilities, including Lyme Disease (cmgonzales). I wasn't able to answer some of the specific question they asked, so YMMV.

Your restrictions on this answer are really quite ridiculous. You have a medical problem that is severely impacting your quality of life. You're asking us for help, but you're ruling out the answer that will actually help you, which is seeing a medical professional? C'mon. Even if we "correctly" diagnose you, you're STILL going to have to get this treated by seeing a professional.
posted by ml98tu at 9:56 AM on August 12, 2007

Could be thyroiditis. But like the last two poster have said, it could be anything.
posted by GuyZero at 10:01 AM on August 12, 2007

I would be anything that it's mononucleosis, especially given your age. I had very similar, perhaps identical, symptoms whilst living in Brazil. I went from being chirpy and energetic, working out every day, to feeling as if I'd been shot in the head at point blank range. I suddenly felt very tired and housebound, a problem exacerbated by the extreme heat. My glands in my neck began to protrude and then, a few days later, I woke up with golf ball-sized lumps in my throat. My tonsils were literally bright green, covered in mucus and so terrible-looking that I thought death was imminent. I only discovered what was wrong when I went to the doctor, was prescribed amoxicillin (he thinking it was a bacterial infection) and came out in the Mother of All Rashes. When I went back to the doctor, terrifying by the beetroot-stain that had engulfed me from head to toe, she knew immediately what it was.

Get thee to a doctor. If it's not mono, I'll eat my hat!
posted by Zé Pequeno at 10:15 AM on August 12, 2007

Response by poster: OK, I'll go find a doctor. What I was try to get at is that my doctor isn't particularly reliable. (In fact they're 0 for 2, and I can prove it).
I guess I didn't really take the fact that my head isn't working too well into consideration.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 10:16 AM on August 12, 2007

Though I'm certainly not diagnosing you, I have had Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for three years, and my symptoms at the beginning were similar to yours (and similarly vague) at its onset. The "brain not working" detail set off my alarm bells.

The reason I'm responding is that I went to the doctor with the vague symptoms (I also had some scary ones, like suddenly losing my balance and ascending numbness) and she wasted no time in taking diagnostic action, doing standard blood tests to look for obvious issues like infection and testing for some problems that have already been mentioned here (Mono, Lyme, thyroiditis). If doc doesn't take it seriously, find another doctor.

Yes, fatigue and nausea are symptoms of many things, but the faster you and the doctor start working on isolating causes, the faster you can get a diagnosis and hopefully relief. IIn the meantime, rest like crazy, don't drink any more alcohol for the time being, don't work out as long as you're feeling this way, keep on with your healthy (if copious) eating, rest like crazy, and rest like crazy. The better care you take of yourself now, the more your body can work on healing.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:20 AM on August 12, 2007

Ctrl_Alt_ep, in that case, you insist on a blood test. If the Epstein-Barr Virus is present in your blood, it's mono. I don't know how quick these things take in the US but in my private Brazilian hospital, I was diagnosed in this way within an hour.

Try not to worry too much, drink plenty of fluids, paracetamol to reduce the aches and pain, and take things easy. Rest is the key. You will be glad you rested if you discover it is mono. God knows how but I seem to have escaped its wrath quite well compared to most other people who get it.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 10:24 AM on August 12, 2007

Sounds like infectious mononucleosis to me, too. The test that can be done is called the MonoSpot test.

Good luck to you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:57 AM on August 12, 2007

Sounds exactly like when I had mono. Don't drink or smoke for awhile. If it's mono, you just need to sleep a lot and not do anything physically exerting for a few weeks.

I can't go to my doctor because it is very unlikely that I will get a reasonable accurate diagnosis in the 10 minutes that I will get.

Sounds like you need a new doctor. Not everyone in the health establishment sucks. Go see a doctor, find out if it's mono, get some pills and be lazy for a few weeks.
posted by chundo at 11:10 AM on August 12, 2007

>can't go to my doctor because it is very unlikely that I will get a reasonable accurate diagnosis in the 10 minutes that I will get.

This is absolutely untrue. In 10 mins a GP can take your blood and run a full spectrum of tests. Most likey you have an issue with your thyroid, blood sugar, liver, etc. A blood test can detect all these problems. The results take a couple of days but that sure beats sitting at home worrying about your health.

Not to mention a good doctor can discover quite a few things by just examining your breathing and looking down your throat.

Seconding getting a new doctor if you truly feel this way. Good luck!
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:33 PM on August 12, 2007

Have you considered trying plain old bed rest and fluids?

You mention that you've been feeling exhausted all week but you don't mention resting. Going out drinking is pretty bad if you're ill and feeling fatigued. If you'd asked a week ago, I'd have said, drink plenty of fluids and get some rest, if it hasn't cleared up in a couple of days, go see your GP. All I can say now is, go see your GP, it could be anything from stress to an infection or even cancer but since none of us here have your detailed medical history or blood test results, we really cant say.

I know what its like to have a sucky doctor, I've had 6 and they've all been useless but if their is something dangerously wrong with you then it should show up on a blood test - or make you ill enough to go to hospital.
posted by missmagenta at 12:54 PM on August 12, 2007

IANAD, but my wife is...and she says it sounds like a viral process. Acute infection with HIV can present similarly. Less scary possibilities are CMV and EBV (the virus that causes mono). Just because your gf doesn't have it doesn't mean you don't.

Less likely is anemia. But swollen lymph nodes really point to a virus. This may resolve on its own, but it sounds like you're getting worse not better. Go see a doctor. You are sick.

P.S. she says that her money's on EBV and/or mono.
posted by braintoast at 1:44 PM on August 12, 2007

Did you have unprotected sex on your wild night of drinking or somewhat recently with someone you can't vouch for? If so, get a HIV workup when the doc does your blood work.
posted by lockle at 1:56 PM on August 12, 2007

I got mono a while back. My girlfriend never had it, and I wasn't kissing anyone else, but apparently sometimes people just get it out of nowhere. With the swollen glands and tiredness, my money's on mono. A doctor can take a quick pinprick blood test and find out. Don't work out or lift stuff in the meantime, just in case your spleen is swollen.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 2:20 PM on August 12, 2007

I also had mono in college and the bf never got it. Very similar symptoms and I was in South Ga in August. Talk about miserable!! Get lots of rest and no kissing till you get a dx.!!
posted by pearlybob at 3:32 PM on August 12, 2007

Response by poster: Apparently I don't even have a GP anymore - not since I turned 18, which has been a while.
I'm glad it sounds like mono - I'd rather have to deal with something common (HIV, CMV and CFS don't sound fun).
Thanks for the link buriednexttoyou, it will likely come in useful.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 5:25 PM on August 12, 2007

Sounds like mono to me -- which can be caused by multiple different viruses. Epstein-Barr is the most common, but CMV (cytomegalovirus) can cause it as well.

I had (Epstein-Barr) mono last winter and my throat didn't hurt until the last stretch (at which point it was painfully swollen). Also, I think the incubation period for mono is a month, so it's possible your girlfriend could still come down with it. Alternatively, she may already have antibodies against the virus you have. My boyfriend came down with mono twice, first from Epstein-Barr and a year later from CMV. I caught the former from him but not the latter, having (presumably) already been exposed when I was younger.
posted by puffin at 10:28 PM on August 12, 2007

Also, as others have said treat your spleen and liver kindly as they may be enlarged.
posted by puffin at 10:36 PM on August 12, 2007

being a doctor is difficult. it is really difficult to make a judgement with the limited information at hand, and is generally an approximation based on experience.
posted by edtut at 11:30 PM on August 12, 2007

If you're female - is there any chance you're pregnant? Early pregnancy can be quite a ride. The tiredness and nausea seem like a good fit.
posted by 26.2 at 11:43 PM on August 12, 2007

it kind of sounds like the symptoms of west nile virus... have you been bitten by a mosquito recently?


doesn't matter if you think your symptoms are vague -- get thee to a doctor asap.
posted by ninefour at 8:03 AM on August 13, 2007

Anemia can also cause fatigue. Anemia can be caused by quite a number of things, many of which require medical attention.
posted by cahlers at 12:58 PM on August 13, 2007

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