Brain fog, sinus & ear pressure, lethargy... for over a decade
I just joined the board after a Google search led me to these forums.
I've been chasing my tail for more than 10 years about a series of symptoms that started in 1997, soon after I moved to the North East region (Boston, New York). Before that time, I've lived in California, Arizona, and some countries in southern Europe. As I mentioned, I never experienced this constellation of symptoms before I moved to the North East.
These symptoms started on-and-off in 1997, and then they stayed for good, and happen every single day. Here's the list:
Severe brain fog, lethargy, feeling like my brain is in molasses. I never pursued my doctorate because this affliction makes me feel like an imbecile, unable to mentally function as I used to.
Also, no diabetes. Sleep disorders: never get a good night of sleep. Always wake up exhausted, beat up. Shortness of breath and palpitations upon waking up. Frequent headaches, intense and debilitating. Pressure behind the eyes and inside the ears (like I'm under water) Visual disturbances: floaters (like TV noise), blinking lights, sensitivity to light. Sinus congestion, but the nose is dry. Creaking and popping noises in the inner ear. Very noticeable upon chewing, yawning, swallowing. Tinnitus at night. Dizziness and nausea. Extremely dry skin and scalp. The scalp flakes horribly, and it's quite embarrassing. Not a single product helps.
Since these symptoms started, they never quite went away. I met with different doctors over the years, which studied my case from different angles and directions, but never got anywhere. On occasion they found some minor indication of something, but never conclusive.
Among the battery of tests requested by doctors in the last decade, here's some from my recollection:
Internal medicine: can't find anything conclusive. No diabetes either. Neurology: can't find anything conclusive. Was prescribed various types of antidepressants, which made no difference. Sleep studies: mild apnea, small enough to warrant these symptoms. Used a c-pap machine with no positive results. Infectious diseases: all negative. One doctor thought of Lyme disease, but all tests came out negative (plus I don't have any joint problems). Since I used to be very active outdoors, another doctor gave me the Lyme vaccine, but it didn't make a difference. Sinus problems: ORL specialist noticed inflamed sinus and turbinates. Suggested this could be the culprit for my problems. Four years ago I underwent surgery to widen the nasal passage. The result: negative. It made no difference. Allergies: Not much luck. Allergy tests show I have mild reactions to pet dander, and higher reaction to dust and mold. Doctors prescribed me every allergy medication under the sun, with no positive results. The nasal sprays (Nasonex, Mucinex, etc) actually made me more congested (bad reaction to those). One allergy doctor gave me injections for 6 months to immunize me against dust and mold. No results.
I started to think this was my fate. Then, in the last couple of years discovered a very interesting and dramatic fact: when I travel to drier or higher regions, these symptoms go away. Allow me to explain.
In the last three years I had the chance to travel a lot because of work, and discovered that, when I was on assignment for a week or more to places like California, Arizona, Texas, Spain or Italy, the vast majority of these awful symptoms slowly go away. Within a few days, the mental clarity comes back, I sleep like a baby, sinuses clear, I can focus on tasks without the dreaded lethargy, skin stops scaling.
Then, within days of coming back to New York, all of these symptoms come back. I've been able to measure it a 2-3 days. Within that time, the constellation of symptoms come back to take claim of my body. How bizarre!!!
I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't know what else to do. I would really, really appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction. There are a few things I have not yet researched:
Inner ear disorders, infections, or Mennieres disease. Exposure to toxins or neurotoxins? Mineral poisoning? Other allergies that doctors are missing? The opposite of "altitude sickness", known as "sea level sickness"? Thyroid problems?
I'm puzzled, tired, and depressed over this situation. I see my life wasting away, unable to enjoy life because I'm too ill and spaced out. I live in terror of losing my job and not being able to have a successful career because I'm too lethargic and brain-fogged to move ahead. I don't know what to do.
Can anyone point me to a good doctor in NYC that would go the extra mile to get to the bottom of this? Any good doctors specialized in difficult diagnoses?
I've researched that some of these problems could be caused by undiagnosed allergies, or severe reactions to regional things. Can anyone recommend me a great allergy specialist in NYC that could look into why I'm so sick all the time?
I'm desperate. Any help would be much appreciated.