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Date of last update: 10/17/2017.

Forum Name: Endocrinology Topics

Question: Episodes of distorted vision, headache, & exhaustion

 kimsheamc - Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:21 pm

I am 27. When I was about 16 I passed out one day at school. I went to the Dr. and they did blood tests and everything, diabetes test & all, turned out normal. Ever since that day, a few times a year I would sometimes have episodes of my fingers going numb. It usually would last about 10 minutes and then be back to normal. This past year or 2 my episodes are a bit different and more frequent. They start out with my vision being distorted. I will be feeling totally fine but all of a sudden I'll notice that when I look at other people's faces, they look really strange and distorted. This will last 5-10 minutes then go away. About 10-15 minutes after that I will get a really bad headache and start feeling extremely exhausted. This usually lasts the rest of the day. These episodes happen in this exact order every single time and this year I have been having them about once a month. I have thought for the longest time that it may be that I am hypoglycemic. I have not been tested for it but I've read a little bit on it and think that could possibly be it. It's just really strange that this is getting to be so frequent and it's starting to worry me.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:16 pm

User avatar Hello -

Have you ever had a complete neurological workup since this has been going on? It is of course impossible to do more than guess at a distance, but what you describe sounds a good deal like it could be a form of seizure you're experiencing, from having passed out in school years ago to having episodes of visual distortion followed by headache and fatigue. This is roughly one possible form of partial seizure, including the post-tictal headache and tiredness. It would make a lot more sense than hypoglygemia, although, of course, that hasn't been ruled out and is a remote possibility.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) with stroboscopic attempt to induce seizure would be a good starting point, after, of course, a history and physical (H&P) with a consulting neurologist. I just have a suspicion this is more neurological than endocrinological. You certainly ought to also have at least a 3 hour glucose tolerance test (GTT) to rule hypoglycemia in or out, but regardless of that result, I strongly believe a neurological workup would still be in order.

I hope this is helpful to you. Please follow up with us as needed.
 kimsheamc - Tue Sep 09, 2008 6:30 pm

That is very interesting that you mention seizures because when I was very young, about 8 years old, I had several tests, including an EEG done to see if I had seizures. My teacher at the time noticed that I would blank out all of a sudden in class and my grades had suddenly dropped tremendously.
The first doctor we went to suggested that I had some form of seizure where you just blank out? I'm not sure if this is exactly how it was described but it's how I remember it as a child. Then our insurance changed and we switched doctors. That doctor did and EEG and I believe maybe a cat scan as well. He said that I did not have seizures. So I have never been sure.
The first doctor had me on Ritalin for a while and the new doctor had taken me off of it. I had never again noticed the spacing out symptoms.

I will see about finding a neurologist.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:53 pm

User avatar Hi there -

Well you have just described, in almost textbook fashion, what are known as "absence seizures" or petit mal epilepsy. In these (early) seizures the patient is unaware anything has happened, and since it is usually a young person it affects the learning process adversely, grades suffer, and often the child is accused of "daydreaming" or having attention deficit disorder. It was always treatable, although the available drugs now are more effective.

I thnk it would be totally appropriate for you to be seen by a neurologist, have another (provocative strobe) EEG, and I would almost be willing to bet you are experiencing some sort of seizure activity now, probably partial seizures.

Thanks for the additional information. I hope this is all helpful. Please let us know what you find out. Best of luck to you.
 kimsheamc - Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:38 pm

Thank you. I am so appreciative of your advice and knowledge.

I had completely forgotten about going through that as a child, therefore, not thinking about the fact that I could still be having forms of epilepsy. Epilepsy actually runs in my family. I have several cousins who have grand mal seizures.

Today I made an appointment w/ a neurologist who I will see in 2 weeks. I will let you know what I find out.
 kimsheamc - Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:43 pm

Well I have been seeing an Neurologist about my episodes. We did an EEG and it showed that there is a chemical imbalance in the left portion of my brain. She said that it might be partial seizures. We also did an MRI and it came out normal. Then we did a blood-flow test and that came out normal as well. The doctor doesn't seem to think I have anything to worry about. She did not put me on any medication.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:48 pm

User avatar This makes perfect sense, and if you can get by without medication for these episodes all the better. I'm glad you got a relatively clean bill of health and now you have a pretty good idea what's going on. Good job! Thanks for the update.
 unovksr1 - Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:43 pm

I know that this sounds very strange, but I need help with this. I have only had this happen to me 3 times. The best way that I can describe it would be; that I all of the sudden see everything twist upsidedown and then back around to normal. It is very scary and my heart feels like it will jump out of my chest. I also feel very dizzy. This only lasts about 3 seconds. I just don't know what is up with that? Could you please give me an idea what is going on? Thank you!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:03 am

User avatar For unovksr1: This could be either cardiac in origin (an idiosyncratic response to a brief arrhythmia) or could be a focal seizure problem. You will probably need to be evaluated first by a neurologist, then, if that doesn't identify the problem, referral to a cardiologist. This is a very atypical but non-unheard of reaction to either of the above problems and obviously would be very disturbing, so I'd start with the neurological evaluation and then, if necessary, overlap it with a cardiology consult.

Hope this helps, and please do follow up here and let us know how things unfold.
 butterflygirl - Sun May 03, 2009 12:15 pm

I am replying to Kimsheamc. I have had absence epilepsy my whole life (partial seizures). This was misdiagnosed, and it was actually Celiac Disease (gluten sensitivity). I just found this out recently after a current bout of symptoms.
I have been on anti-seizures medications my whole life, two different kinds (Zarontin and Zonegran), both of which a side effect is Lupus. I was diagnosed with Lupus two years ago. At the beginning of this year, I started having chronic symptoms of nausea and diarrhea, and some other subtle symptoms. I was diagnosed with Celiac's disease. Celiac can actually cause petit mal seizures, which I believe to have caused the seizures when I was a child. Neurological symptoms of Celiacs often present themselves with Celiacs years before any gastrointestinal symptoms do. Maybe you should get yourself checked out.
I have read on a few sites, that a golden rule should be that anyone diagnosed with Epilepsy should be also tested for Celiac disease.
Celiac is an autoimmune disorder, once thought of as rare, but occurs as often as 1 in 100 people. Eating gluten will wreak havoc on your body. People with this disease may not have any symptoms, which is dangerous. They may not have any symptoms until later in life. They may have symptoms their whole life and go undiagnosed. You should check it out.
 spidermonkey1187 - Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:59 pm

During middle/high school and for some of my adult life I have been a sleep walker/talker and have had a few instances of night terrors. During highschool I was on the wrestling team and in a tournament hit my head very hard in a way that my spine would take all the force of the impact. On the way home my vision in my right eye became distorted as if someone had taken a knife and carved a very jagged line through it. I'm not sure now whether it was followed by a head ache as I was pretty sore and disoriented. Since then and more often recently I have been experiencing the same issue along with a crippling head ache that seems to go away a little when I lay down. I thought it was because of physical activity (I ride a bike to work) but it is not a constant. It can happen when I'm just sitting around. When it does happen I cannot read without a great deal of concentration and that intensifies the headache. My vision looks as if I am looking through a broken window with water running accross it. During work today; however, I started to feel very exhausted at work accompanied by aggitation, and slight depression. That was before the onset of the vision and headache issues. I have not had the oportunity to analyze this before so I am not sure if that is a precurser to the episodes I am having. My doctor has told me to see a neurologist but there are none in the town I live in and I don't currently drive.

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