Follow
Share

These episodes seem to come on quickly usually between 10 am and noon. They last anywhere from one to three days. She has a difficult time explaining how she feels but some of the common statements are that her eyes and forehead are heavy, she feels "terrible" and isn't hungry. She was hospitalized last October when it happened and had an MRI, blood work, CT scans, etc. Everything was normal. I took her to her PC another time during an episode and, again, blood work and a urine test were fine. She had a B12 shot that day which didn't do anything either. She recently had another MRI and there was no change from the previous one. I started tracking the days it happens to see if I can come up with some kind of pattern but am at a loss. It's usually about a month in between but this past time, it was only three weeks (I thought it might be a chemical reaction to hair color but ruled that out now). I also considered that it might be something with her morning pills but when it happened this time, she had forgotten to take them so I ruled that out. She's taking a number of different prescriptions but, when this started, nothing had changed for quite a long time. I'm stumped and so are the doctors. Has anyone else had experience with something like this and found an answer? I would really like to get this figured out so she can be OK!

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
I don't know what your mom has, but, I'll tell you what I have experienced with my family members after repeated ER visits. One parent had heavy head, jaw locked, faint, dizzy, seizure like behavior, vision loss, etc. This started an array of tests. Every tests you can think of. MRI, neurologist, cardiac tests, blood work, ENT tests, test for UTI, he even wore a heart monitor for days, had tilt test, etc. He had an episode on the tilt table, before he was tilted. So, we knew that his heart, blood pressure, everything was normal, while he had episode. Next stop psychiatrist and he was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder. You can look it up. It was explained to him, he accepted it and he went on a daily med for anxiety. Only a couple of relapses in the last several years. As long as he takes his meds, he's okay. He also keeps 2 Xanax around, just in case.  He doesn't even have to take them most of the time. Just knowing there are there are helpful. 

My mom suffers panic attacks that take her to the ER, feeling sick, like she dying. She's been diagnosed, but, refuses to take a daily med. She gets better as soon as she takes an anti anxiety med too. She's been tested extensively and there is no other cause. These spells happen often during severe weather conditions or family crisis. She worries a lot and I can tell when one is coming on.

I'd discuss it with her doctors. After ruling out actual medical causes, the psych referal was a godsend. A consult with a psychiatrist was very beneficial for my Lo's. At least we know what we are dealing with. I hope you can find answers for your mom. I know how stressful this can be.
(2)
Report

Another follow up as I'm interested in what the thoughts are on anxiety being the cause of my Mom's episodes. We just came off a two day stay in the hospital - again checking for stroke or other physical problems. She has continued to have these bad periods for 1 - 3 days and they happen anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks apart. This time it started right after Christmas and when it wasn't getting any better, I took her to the ER. CT scans, MRIs, blood tests and urinalysis all came back OK (same as in the past). I told the staff that she had a hard time with the last MRI so they gave her a very low dose of Ativan prior. I couldn't believe the difference! This got me thinking that maybe these episodes are all related to anxiety and after looking up her symptoms, it seems to fit. I am taking her to her PC doc for a follow up and hope we can get her on a medication that does the trick. Does anyone have any experience with particular meds that worked well or not? Thank you!
(1)
Report

Ava, thanks for the update.... we sure do learn from each other :)
(1)
Report

Yes, my mom went through this with ever increasing frequency throughout her final year.

The "crash" (as we called it) was very rapid. In only a minute she would suddenly be unable to stand, hold her head up, or anything. She would be "gone" for 2-3 days after each episode.

We tried increasing her heart meds. The thinking was that she was experiencing wild heart rate that was causing the blood to move so fast through her system there was no time to pick up enough oxygen in the lungs as it rushed madly by.

On one occasion her doc actually saw this happen right in front of him! He immediately did a blood oxygen level on her...and sure enough....oxygen deprivation!

After a couple of months free from the crashes...it started again. Doc didn't feel it made sense to up the meds again as the risk far outweighed the possible benefit.

This was sort of like mini-strokes. Oxygen deprivation in her brain for very short "bursts".

I think that was what did it in the end. Sooner or later those mini-strokes were going to kill off brain cells that are critical to some vital organ..... like throwing a dart at the board blind folded. Sooner or later you are not going to miss.
(1)
Report

As a follow-up - it's been three weeks and things have been good (I almost don't want to say that and jinx the situation). But, I'm thinking that this last episode could have been triggered by a delayed reaction to an increased dose of Aricept. The neurologist wanted to drop Mom back to 5 mg from 10 but we decided to try increasing it more slowly to see if she could eventually tolerate the 10 mg. We did every other day, 5 mg then 10, for two weeks. Then I'll do 2 days on the 10 and one on 5 for a week. It appears this is working as she feels better and I've noticed a difference in her cognition. I'm still planning to try natural hair color - she doesn't want to go gray! And I'll keep my fingers crossed that we're out of the woods for a while. Thanks again for your helpful comments!
(3)
Report

Thank you all for your excellent suggestions! I will start tracking some of these to see if there is a pattern in the weather or with some of the things Mom eats.
(1)
Report

FF, those of us sensitive to weather changes might be better predictors and barometers of weather changes than all the tech gadgets and computer predictions the weather forecasters use!

I like your father's cute metaphors and descriptions of T-storms!
(1)
Report

GardenArtist, I totally forgot about barometric changes. Both my Dad and I could predict the weather. I would call him asking him if he thought it was going to rain because my head felt it would.... and he would say, chances are high for a spitting sparking booming banging weather this evening [thunder storm].

Last few years, chocolate would make me have a row of sneezes.  Same with cola drinks. 
(1)
Report

If you pursue the allergy investigation or come up with any other explanation, please share. We learn from each other!
(3)
Report

Just thought of another food culprit that can cause a heavy headed feeling, at least in me: chocolate, sugary foods, desserts. That's unfortunate too, as we chocoholics know that chocolate is a major food group.
(4)
Report

FF raises an interesting issue. You could start tracking storms, barometric changes, etc. Weather changes can affect people, and some are more sensitive than others. I can always tell when the weather is changing b/c old injuries flare up.

Another aspect that could affect her are preservatives or compounds in foods, including caffeine, but also including insecticide residues (look up the Dirty Dozen foods which are contaminated by pesticides) or preservatives such as sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, used sometimes on fresh strawberries as well as in lunch meats (there are a few brands of preservative free lunchmeats now). MSG is also an offender, but in my experience, it causes shortness of breath, more like an anaphylactic reaction.

Seasonal changes and especially pollen can affect the sinuses as well. For the first year, we've had pollen alerts nearly every day. And with less rainfall in our area, the pollens aren't diluted or washed out. I have to wear a mask when I mow the grass.

Allergic rhinitis is another condition that responds to seasonal as well as hot and cold changes in the weather.

I'm wondering if seeing an allergist might be helpful, or perhaps an endocrinologist (to determine if there are any vitamin, mineral, etc. deficiencies).

As to prescription meds, examine the bottles and labels (if you still have them), or receipts, labels or data kept for tax purposes (I keep all of these, especially the receipt printouts with script number and manufacturer). One of the reasons I switched to a real pharmacy was because they'll advise me when I ask if the manufacturer is off shore.

I had to change suppliers once when the pharmacy switched to a supplier with vertical manufacturing in India. I'm aware that along the vertical chain of suppliers, there often are offshore manufacturers, but it's my understanding that domestic (or reliable European pharmas) check drug accuracy, safety, etc. when using imported ingredients.
(4)
Report

Ava, a heavy forehead and heavy eyes sounds like a sinus issue. Have the family doctor recommend an antihistamine or a nose spray that is safe for Mom to use. It's worth a try.

Also, keep a food diary to see if there is any common food item eaten the day or two before. Such as an item that has caffeine.... or a dairy product which can cause mucus.
(2)
Report

She did have a test done at least once when this happened but I'm thinking I might ask to have another one because this time it isn't going away as fast.
(0)
Report

Have they tested her to see if she is getting urinary tract infections (UTI) - sometimes they cause odd reactions in the elderly. If she gets dehydrated or has a low-grade one, it could be giving her symptoms that clear up later.
(2)
Report

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter