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Brainstorming possible ideas.... please help!

I get sick from time to time, but I'm not actually 'ill' persay. I keep up with my workouts (if I can get out of bed), and I'm not sick or congested... I'm just exhausted. Completely so. My brain feels like it takes longer to process things, my head just feels 'cloudy', and I'm so tired that getting out of bed is nearly impossible. I get 6-8 hours of sleep a night, more if I can... and I try to keep a balanced diet (it's not a 'sugar crash'). This happens every once in a while, the last one was in a few months ago... and now currently again. They've checked my thyroid, they've checked my blood count, nothing shows any change or level problem.

Anybody had a similar problem? Or ideas for changes I could make to see if it helped? And by sleeping too much, I mean I took a 4 hour nap today (after 7 hours of sleep) and I've slept 18 hours in one day the last time this hit... It tends to linger. They've also checked for a virus and its not Epstein-Barr, or any other virus that they've tested for... Help please?

Wed. Jan 10, 6:27pm

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I take it you're looking for Alternative Medicine ideas...?

I don't think acupuncture will do you much good, but you might want to talk with a Naturopathic Doctor (beware though - many of them just want to sell you their line of overpriced supplements. if you can't get a recommendation from someone, try to find a practitioner who doesn't have his/her own products to sell.) Als, see if Traditional Chinese Medicine has something to offer - they gave a friend of mine some weird dietary changes to make temporarily and his hay fever went away for 3 years. Alas, I can only offer anecdotes and not scientific proof to back up these suggestions, but these two practices take a more whole-body approach to a health problem than our system does, which makes them more effective for "syndrome"-type issues such as you describe. Anyway, that might be a starting point for your googling if nothing else.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 7:10 PM

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OP with more info...

thanks! i'm not necessarily looking for alternative medicine, more something my doctor didn't think to check or ideas for things that others have noticed in their own eating (i.e. if a food tends to make them tired- turkey style) that I could monitor in my logs to see if this thing is triggered by a food/situation... any ideas really. Thanks for the alternative medicine ideas... I just really don't know what to do.

The last time I went to the doctor with joint pain and the syptoms above they checked for arthritis, 'felt sure' it was a virus, and found nothing... they said if it stayed that they'd like to put me on antidepressants. I didn't like the way it was flippantly assumed that anti-depressants would 'fix' my symptoms, and I also think that given my focus on weight loss (i'm still at an 'obese' BMI) putting me abruptly on something that more than likely could lead to weight gain might not be the way to go... Also, they've checked for mono, but since this is recurring, any other ideas might be helpful as well...

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 7:18 PM

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brain cloud

maybe you are not getting a deep sleep, which would cause you to not feel rested and more tired. Have you looked into sleep Apnea?
Also, you mentioned that your joints ached and you had a brain cloud. Those things were happening to me and I went to a rhumatologist to see if I had Fibromyalgia, which they still haven't completely confirmed if I do or not, but they say it's border line and put me on a medication called amitriptaline (sp?) to help and although It helped me to get a deep sleep, it also caused me to gain weight because they neglected o tell me that a side effect might be a strong craving for carbs!!!!! Duh-- no wonder I couldn't pass the checkout counter without having to have at least one candy bar(which i never had a problem with before) any way-- i got on another medication called Temazepam which had no hidden carb cravings and has really helped me to feel rested and the brain fog was lifted!! I actually can wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to get out of bed!!! I don't know if this will help, but I thought I'd put in my two cents. Good luck.

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 1:14 AM

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Hi. I can really relate to what you're going through. Do you stress a lot? or Are you under a lot of stress? What you are describing sounds like it could be adrenal fatigue. You may want to go visit a naturopath or an acupuncturist who also is an herbalist to get something to support (and strengthen) your adrenals. There isn't much that a traditional physician will give you to help with this..other than tell you to rest and avoid over doing it.

Also to the 7:10 pm. poster -- Traditional Chinese Medicine is practiced by most liscensed acupuncturists.

I know you said you want to work with a regular physician but it sounds like they've hit a stone wall.

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 1:28 AM

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Are you drinking enough water?? I notice that it has a real impact on my energy level. It has made an amazing difference for my father, as well. He is older and not well, so a weaker system involved. But, he was having fatigue, dizziness when he stood up, bladder infections, swelling in his legs. All those symptoms have improved DRASTICALLY because he pumped up his straight-up water intake to at least 2 liters a day.

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 8:03 AM

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What is your current diet like? I would love to hear what it is that you are eating on a regular basis...

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 8:37 AM

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2 more possibilities worth looking into:
1) depression
2) burnout

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 9:23 AM

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Thank you for the ideas! I definitely struggle with getting enough water, so that's something I can start and work on on my own... Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I'm a graduate student, so burnout (although likely) is not really fixable at the moment... I have a couple more years to go.

My current diet: Well, for the most part I try to follow WW Core. I do however use my flex points, and occasionally get myself into a situation where I need to go off plan. I am trying to limit myself to whole wheat. I eat lean meats (I do eat chipped ham, but the 97% fat free kind). I've added some soy products from Morningstar Farms as well (because of the late nights and the need to grab something in a hurry). I try to cook ahead so that I have 'real meals' during the week... I have vegetable soup in my refrigerator right now, for dinner tonight. I drink 2-3 glasses of milk everyday and I always have fruit in a bowl in the kitchen (which then finds its way to me, it doesn't do much good in the bowl). I'm trying to make 'real' and permanent changes... so I'm really viewing this as a gradual process. My weaknesses are sweets, but I try to limit myself. My goal level of working out is 4 times/ the summer I was going everyday but it's not practical now. I like to use the elliptical, stationary bike, and walk/run. I will do some weight machines, but being a college gym, they tend to get overrun by bulky males (a phenomenon I was previously unfamiliar with... I never heard of guys using the machines?!)

Anyways, that's me in a nutshell.
Again, thank you! If anyone else thinks of anything, feel free to keep posting...

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 9:37 AM

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Additional thoughts

Three things come to mind.

Have you had a mono test? I would think that would be the first place they look. I've actually had mono twice (that's not supposed to happen) and I could barely get out of bed.

I had a very strange bout with low blood pressure a few years ago. 65 over 35. I had to increase fluids and electrolytes to bring it back up. It sure affected my ability to exercise and be functional.

I will also second the depression thought. Although you have tried an antidepressent they aren't all right for everybody. It might be worth trying a different drug. Having suffered from major depression I can assure you that, if it truly is depression, the correct medication can make a huge difference.

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 9:43 AM

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I dunno -- I get 5-8 hrs of sleep a night during the week, and 10-12 (okay, rarely 18 -- maybe once or twice a year) a night on the weekend. Nothing wrong with that as far as I can tell. Most people I know would take a 4-hr afternoon nap on Sundays if they had the time. Face it, you need more than 6 hours of sleep. When you create a deficit, it will catch up with you! Depending on how long you work out, you may be overtraining occasionally, too. Sometimes your body says "throttle back!"

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 9:46 AM

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Since you asked for brainstorming, I'll offer an off-the-wall idea. The Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment, link below, actually interviews and tests psychics and compiles a list of credible psychics every year. The list is not available on their website, but if you call them, they will mail it to you. I've seen the list and some psychics list their specialty as "medical". If you've tried everything else...


Thursday, January 11, 2007, 10:23 AM

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Depression is what comes to mind. I have been battling depression since i was 13 (almost 9 years). i have been on all kinds of meds, but what you are describing is exactly what i feel alot. i am always tired, i could sleep for a whole day if you let me, and i sometimes do this on the weekend. this is counterproductive however, because when you wake up you realize you wasted the whole day and it makes me more depressed. i recently started exercising, and supposedly that is supposed to help. i also suffer from anxiety so it also doesnt help me to fall asleep. let me know if you ever wanna chat, i am always available and i have been through a lot with depression. my advise would be to go see a psychiatrist and see if they can diagnose you.

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 11:52 AM

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maybe you are either not getting enough iron or maybe the iron in your diet is not being absorbed properly? my iron intake was right at or above where it should have been but i had an as yet unknown wheat-intolerance that blocked absorption of the iron into my system. thus, every time i went to donate blood and they checked my iron levels, they were too low. after finding out about the wheat problem, i cut almost all wheat out of my diet and my iron levels shot up as did my overall energy. and i began getting a sound sleep with no trouble getting up or being aware first thing in the morning. i was all around more alert and able to be more active.

Thursday, January 11, 2007, 11:59 AM

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Has no one mentioned Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Here's the diagnostic criteria listed by the Centers for Disease Control:

Unexplained, persistent fatigue that's not due to ongoing exertion, isn't substantially relieved by rest, is of new onset (not lifelong) and results in a significant rEducation (sic: I think they meant "reduction") in previous levels of activity.

Four or more of the following symptoms are present for six months or more:
Impaired memory or concentration
Postexertional malaise (extreme, prolonged exhaustion and sickness following physical or mental activity)
Unrefreshing sleep
Muscle pain
Multijoint pain without swelling or redness
Headaches of a new type or severity
Sore throat that's frequent or recurring
Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes

For more info, here's the link:


Thursday, January 11, 2007, 12:21 PM

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The OP says she's been tested for EBV, which would rule out mono and I think also CFS.

Have you been tested for Sjogren's syndrome? I understand that some of the symptoms are similar to CFS, but one might notice dry eyes/dry mouth first.

Also, shout out to the 9:43 poster: I also have had mono twice! When I said, "I thought that wasn't supposed to be possible," she laughed and said it happened all the time. So, I looked it up. It doesn't happen "all the time," but it does happen in people who are under enormous amounts of stress for longish periods of time -- one of the studied populations is astronauts!

Friday, January 12, 2007, 4:38 PM

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Consider seeing a super-qualified dietician. Mine has a master's in physiology and nutrition, and she is very aware of symptoms of diseases that cause problems with weight as well as signs of food allergies/sensitivities.

Also, my sister went through those symptoms as a teenager and was diagnosed with a triple-whammy: mono, Epstein-Barre, and Lyme disease. Not sure what symptoms were related to which diagnosis (they all list 'fatigue'), but if you live in or have visited an area known for having ticks, check out the symptoms of Lyme's.

By the way, LOVE that someone had the nerve to suggest the 'medical psychic' idea in a forum that invites undue criticism. Sure, it's pretty far out there, but different strokes for different folks!

Friday, January 12, 2007, 5:19 PM

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Epstein-Barr virus causes mono.

Friday, January 12, 2007, 5:45 PM

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Normal or Not?

Hi. I just wanted to let you know I can relate. I seem to need more sleep than most people. I sleep 8 hours at night, and more often than not, I need a 1-2 hour nap in the middle of the day (if I do not nap, I feel like I can barely move). Is 10 hours of sleep too much for a 25 yr. old woman? Thyroid issues, low iron, and celiac's disease (wheat-intolerance) have crossed my mind because they all run in my family.

I can tell you that I've started to take a multi-vitamin, an omeg-3 pill, and I eat 5-6x per day (verses 3). Coffee has also helped pull my mind together (and with 7 times the antioxidents of a banana, how can you go wrong?) My symptoms are relieved, but not cured.

I wake up in the morning, and I'm sharp and energetic (even before coffee). By the time 3:30p rolls around, I'm almost zombi-ish; I struggle to maintain focus and my body doesn't want to move. If I nap for an hour or two, I wake up feeling just like I did in the morning. Then I pass out, again, by 10:30p. (Are you similar, OP? or am I a completely different case?)

Is this normal? I would love to hear more opinions.

Saturday, January 13, 2007, 9:50 AM

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9:50 AM: Needing 10 hours of sleep every day seems a little extreme to me (but I'm not a medical professional.)
When was the last time you had a complete physical check-up? How long has this situation lasted? It's relatively easy to test thyroid function and the presence or absence of anemia. I don't know much about celiac disease, but you could (relatively) easily remove most or all wheat from your diet for a while to see how you would feel.

Go to your doctor! Good luck.

Saturday, January 13, 2007, 1:54 PM

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Maybe it's lupus....

OP, has anyone mentioned lupus as a possible cause? Lupus is an auto-immune disease, which means that your own body attacks itself and there can be many different symptoms. It is often very difficult to diagnose lupus. You might want to check out the Lupus Foundation of America web site and the link to the page that describes the most typical symptoms.

Whatever, good luck!


Saturday, January 13, 2007, 2:05 PM

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Maybe it's lupus...., continued.

OP, I'm the 2:05 poster who suggested lupus. I just reread your second post in which you also talk about joint pains. Join pain is a VERY typical symptom of lupus. Doctors often overlook lupus -- check out the Mayo Clinic site or the NIH site or the first site I recommended (Lupus Foundation of America) for more information.
Keep us informed.

Saturday, January 13, 2007, 2:09 PM

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OP again.

Thank you all again... they did consider lupus but said that since it didn't run in my family it wasn't likely. They also briefly considered arthritis.

to the 9:50 poster: When I am in one of these bouts I very much sound like that. I have had low-levels of iron two or three times in my life, but all the recent tests show that I am not anemic. They also have tested my thyroid and say that it's 'within normal range.' I can tend to keep late hours, given the opportunity and I tend to do my best work in the early AM, although when I'm having one of these few weeks (as I described above) then I can't keep any of my normal hours.

To everyone (and anyone) else: If you have any other ideas for positive changes I could make that might help me, feel free to send them over. And if you have any other suggestions feel free to send them over. I really appreciate the variety of suggestions. Also, I understand that a lot of my symptoms do match depression, but I also know myself and I know that at the moment I'm not suffering from a bout with depression. (I know that feeling well and I'm not there). The fact that the doctor decided it was a 'virus' couldn't find a virus and said if it didn't go away to come back for antidepressants alarmed me for several reasons. One, I didn't like the fairly rapid switch from virus to depression. Two, there was no discussion of options (in fact an antidepressant commercial was quoted to me). I work with individuals who are often medicated and although I have seen some medications work wonders, I also understand the risks of being overmedicated, so I'm sensitive to getting a prescription for anti-depressants (and other drugs) in such a rapid state.

Needless to say, I did not go back yet. I understand this sounds ridiculously complicated, but it's hit or miss. I go through a 10-day period or two weeks where I'll be this exhausted and then it goes away (even if my stress levels are high)... It doesn't seem to be consistent. And it's been happening on an escalating scale since my freshman year. (I get tested for mono once or twice a year for the past 5 years...this time it's just even worse than before).

Also, the first time the joint pain accompanied it (and for the last two days) I've had a skin rash/hive-type reaction that kicks in and then leaves after an hour or so. Mainly on my shins/knees and the top of my shoulders. I'll have to look at the great links, but does that support any earlier ideas?
Thank you all so much! It's really helpful just to be able to 'talk/think this through'!

Saturday, January 13, 2007, 7:32 PM

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I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties. It sounds like a real struggle! I can relate a little bit, I think.

First, I don’t think it’s depression – at least, if *you* don’t think it is, then it probably isn’t! and you sound bright and lively to me in your postings. I think throwing drugs at people is a crime, there is way too much of that happening these days.

I had a long bout of something similar a couple of years back. I just felt *exhausted* - couldn’t sleep enough, out of breath climbing stairs, just groggy all the time. And around that time I developed a weird puffiness above my eyes/below my brows. It was so strange! I ended up getting tested for every allergy under the sun (scratch tests), and having an MRI to check whether I was conjested in my sinuses. Well, I never did figure out what it was… I thought it might be mold coming out of my basement since it was a very damp summer (had mold growing on furniture – gross). It ended up going away when I went off to Alaska in the summer and was living in a tent for a few weeks!

And, I had a friend who got very ill working in an old building that had a lot of mold. Ventilation in the workplace is very important – there is something called “sick building syndrome”. Everyone has different susceptibilities.

So obviously this is only marginally similar to your situation, but I think you might consider the following –

Seems like you are drinking a lot of milk. Consider cutting back on dairy or anything else you are getting a lot of, to test whether there is a food allergy? And give some thought to possibility of other kinds of allergies, air quality issues, etc. The fact that there is a rash seems to suggest you’re reacting to something.

Try getting a LOT of fresh air, exercising outside, etc – this makes you “earn” your rest, and you may rest more deeply.

Finally, and this is off the wall – but is there the possibility of Lyme disease? Do you live in a tick-prone area? Lyme is more and more widespread, and its symptoms can vary widely. If you think there is a chance, get tested immediately – it can be very serious.

Best of luck! I hope you feel better soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2007, 12:28 AM

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More on lupus....

OP, this is your lupus nag. Skin problems are also a VERY typical symptom of lupus. Lupus may run in families but it is certainly not something one inherits like blue eyes. There are some tests that are usually used to diagnose lupus, which you can probably find on the Mayo Clinic site and definitely on the Lupus Foundation of America site, and if you haven't had them, ask for them. Demand them, if that is politically possible.

Good luck.

Sunday, January 14, 2007, 3:45 AM

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I'm the 9:50 poster. I've been like this my whole life. I don't have medical coverage right now, or I would go and talk to a doctor.

On the other hand, OP: I agree that it may be mold! I had a guy friend who's family was over-weight, depressed, and had acne and horrible energy. They moved away from their house after they figured out what was happening. They have recovered, since. I would at least check!

Sunday, January 14, 2007, 12:14 PM

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Are you female, and how does this link to your cycle

could it be pmdd?

Monday, January 15, 2007, 9:27 AM

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OP here: what is pmdd? I am female...

Monday, January 15, 2007, 11:44 AM

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A more severe premenstrual thing

I keep seeing ads for it. I get this horrible fatigue about 3 times a year that kicks my tail, and I started wondering if maybe once in a while, it's just extreme PMS.

Monday, January 15, 2007, 12:12 PM

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other indications for antidepressants

I would consider the anitdepressants. I am a nursing student and I have read a lot about antidepressants and they arent' just indicated for depression, they can be used for nausea, anxiety, pain, they can help lift your mood andprovide motivation for your daily activities such as exercise, and it could help you sleep better at night allowing you to feel refreshed in the morning. It does take a few weeks for you to feel the effects just starting off although some people feel the effects right away, so you can't give up taking it after one day thinking its not working for you. I think you should reconsider the antidepressants especially since nothing else can be found.

Monday, January 15, 2007, 3:17 PM

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to the 9:27 poster: its an interesting idea but I don't think my symptoms align completely with it.. it is interesting information considering I've always had bad cramping, etc... but I haven't noticed that this hits right before my period.

to the 3:17 poster: thank you for the balanced viewpoint. I certainly appreciate it. I feel as though these symptoms are more physical (even the cloudy brain-ness) than mental... for example, I WANT to get out of bed, I physically am exhausted after walking from my bed to the kitchen. As to the thinking issues, I can read and try to concentrate, but it's just not getting through. There isn't a 'distraction' that I can think of (no thoughts racing through and cutting off information) it just takes more processing time. And although I certainly understand that these medications take time to work, my personal viewpoints do not allow me to take them, especially when I just 'feel' like that's not it. I certainly do appreciate the information... honestly, and to anyone who is on antidepressants, I think that they work for a lot of people and I know they do good things for some (if not most who are prescribed them for the correct reasons). I'm not opposed to considering some natural supplement either.

However, I really don't think its depression. Even if it is depression, my theory is that if I am opposed to medication I am having to take each day, and if it does influence my weight loss efforts (even just initially) that my mood will then plummet. To feel that I have to take medication that I don't want to be taking would influence my mind and attitudes, and I think that it would be worse in the long run to me. I hope that makes sense. Again, I certainly appreciate everyone's input. I'm considering trying to avoid milk for a week or two and seeing if I get any reaction in that time. I'm also considering a mold-test for my apartment. I mentioned the factors that I felt might be leading to mold in my apartment (i.e. there was green on my mattress pad at one point, my room is excessively humid (the dryer vents into my room, and the washer is in my bedroom as well), i actually am allergic to mold) and the doctor commented that "my room must be very warm in the winter. i was lucky." Sometimes I hate being a student as student-health is often the last to believe something is wrong or that you might understand what your body is telling you.

So if anything else pops up, please let me know. And thank you all!

Monday, January 15, 2007, 9:31 PM

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OMG, student health -- all they know how to treat is broken bones and STDs. Yeah, if your mattress is growing algae and you are allergic to mold, I think you are living in the wrong place!

Monday, January 15, 2007, 9:35 PM

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