Unexplained malaise for months
Hello visitors of healthypages,
After months of anxiously researching my symptoms (and the plethora of potential causes to which they might be attributed) I've discovered that I can relieve some of the burden of my own anxiety by asking for the input of impartial strangers. I should preface the next few paragraphs by saying that I'm not especially hypochondriacal and that prior to my current symptoms, I hadn't been to a GP in 7-8 years. I am also 23, male and was in good health prior to my current state.
Around late May/early June, I came down with what felt like a virus wherein my initial symptoms were slight malaise (I didn't feel massively debilitated as I could still go to work), slight appetite loss and a mildly sore throat (with a few minor white patches on my tonsils). I may have also had some night chills in the first few days (now that I think about it) but again nothing felt out of the ordinary. After day 4 of what felt like a virus, I started having massive anxiety and googling symptoms of Leukaemia and Lymphoma which of course exacerbated how I was feeling. I recall having night sweats (not drenching and confined around my neck/collar region) the next 3 nights which woke me up several times a night. I also had no appetite during those 3 days which of course was disconcerting. Looking back, these symptoms may have been attributable to the anxiety. Anyway, by day 7/8 my appetite started coming back and I felt like I was maybe recovering. I'd still felt slightly fatigued, but I would describe it as mild. For the next few weeks I felt alright (definitely not 100% myself as I felt somewhat fatigued but not exhausted) and then had a kind of relapse for a few days where my appetite was quite suppressed and just felt a bit out of it. During those few days, I also had some light night sweating (which again was confined to my neck/collar region) and would wake me up once a night (usually an hour to two after being asleep). It was enough to make my pillow damp (sort of like after having a shower and going to bed with damp hair). I would also record my temperature throughout the day as well as the evening and the highest recorded temperature was 37.3 C (or 99.1 F for the Americans). These episodes usually happened on weekends whilst during the working week I would sleep undisturbed. Even putting how I felt into words is a difficult feat but I suppose I felt a bit like towards end of a cold/flu when you’ve mostly recovered but you’re definitely not at 100%. Symptom-wise this meant light-headedness/dizziness, slightly swollen tonsils and mild ear pressure. Finally, around week 3, I went to my GP and described all of this to her who (unsurprisingly) said my symptoms were non-specific and then proceeded to check my BP and temperature (which were unremarkably normal). She also checked my cervical lymph nodes and could not feel any swelling. She then ordered a blood test which would include a CBC, liver function test, renal profile, a thyroid test, a test for diabetes and finally a test for infectious mononucleosis. Everything came back painfully normal (though my TSH was 3.1 which may be slightly elevated however the NHS (the UK’s health service) classifies that value as “normal”.
The following 3-4 weeks were filled with endless google searches about my mystery malaise which was silly of me to do because it was only compounding my pre-existing stress. I think the most anxiety-inducing symptom I experienced was a kind of fluctuating appetite. I would hunger but not like I did prior to June and I could go hours without eating anything. I weighed myself regularly during the month and my weight had not changed at all. These unchanging symptoms (more-or-less the same as I’d been feeling in the initial week of experiencing my symptoms but with a slightly larger appetite) prompted me to go to my GP again in which I continued to complain about my light-headedness/dizziness, slight ear pressure and fluctuating appetite. Her diagnosis: sinusitis. Apparently, my nasal sinuses were inflamed and to her it seemed consistent with the diagnosis. She also said I had two cervical lymph nodes (one on either side) that were mildly enlarged (probably around 1cm x 1cm) that were non-tender. Even hearing “slightly enlarged lymph nodes” freaked me out as it triggered my paranoia about lymphoma, but I decided to rationalise the situation and assume that if the doctor wasn’t particularly concerned, why should I be? She then said I may have allergies and prescribed me some steroid nasal-spray and (if anti-histamines + the nasal spray didn’t work) amoxicillin as a last resort. I tried all these things, and nothing really helped. I think the most annoying thing was that I wasn’t ill enough to warrant much concern (I could mostly function normally), I just felt like I was off, like I was perpetually semi-ill and it was massively stressful especially at work and during social events where I didn’t feel 100% like myself. I continued to have periodic light night sweating (every couple of weeks) and a fluctuating appetite. Oddly, I would have a few drinks on nights out and feel pretty good, almost exactly like my old self again but this was short-lived as the next day I’d feel out of it again. Not much has changed since then (which was around a month ago). I still feel slightly fatigued, like my vision is also a bit blurrier than normal, I still have mild headaches, an appetite that comes and goes (though no weight loss and in fact a slight weight gain), feeling like my face is hot from time-to-time (but never an evening temperature over 37.1/37.2 C or 98.8/99 F) slightly swollen lymph nodes on either side of me neck (they haven't increased or decreased in size) and infrequent localised night sweats. I’ve booked another GP appointment, but I don’t even know where to begin in terms of asking for tests or beginning to put my symptoms into words. I suppose I’m posting on this forum to ask for some diagnostic advice and support during what feels like a nightmarish period of my life for the past 3 months.