Do you suffer from mystery symptoms and despite numerous trips to the doctor and countless tests, medical professionals can still find nothing wrong? You’re not alone and you’re not crazy. In part one of our series, we will investigate undiagnosed autoimmune disease and other chronic conditions that may be causing your mystery symptoms. This way, you can determine what symptoms most closely resemble yours and be armed with knowledge for your next visit to the doctor.
Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease that affect millions world-wide. Those suffering with fibromyalgia often experience the following troubling symptoms:
• Chronic, widespread pain throughout the body
• Painful tenderness in myofacial trigger points
• Twitching, cramping muscles
• Burning sensation in the muscles
• Brain fog
• Chronic headaches and jaw pain
• Gastrointestinal complaints
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose and frustrating for patient and physician alike. Like most autoimmune disease, conventional medicine sometimes falls short in helping the body heal itself and may offer treatments that only mask symptoms. Those who believe their mystery symptoms may be related to fibromyalgia may benefit from first getting the diagnosis from a medical doctor and turning to complementary therapies such as dietary changes, herbal remedies and the healing arts for lasting relief. Learn more about natural remedies for fibromyalgia by clicking this link.
Lyme disease is a tick-bourne illness caused by a bacterium called borrelia burgdorferi carried by deer ticks that spread to humans through a bite. Those who spend lots of time outdoors fishing, hiking or camping are more likely to be bitten by a tick and contract this disease. When treatment is given immediately, symptoms are easy to reverse. The problem is that many people are not aware they’ve been bitten by a tick until they are already experiencing severe symptoms. Symptoms of Lyme disease are wide and varied and include:
• Flu-like symptoms at onset such as chills, fever, muscle aches, headache and swollen glands
• Red, bulls-eye mark at site of bite
• Muscle aches and cramping that comes and goes
• Dizziness, fatigue, brain fog, poor concentration and slurred speech
• Heart palpitations and chest pain
• Light and sound sensitivity
• Irritability, hostility, anxiety, and mood swings
• Loss of libido, inflammation of urethra and bladder
• Spleen tenderness and enlargement
Since the symptoms of Lyme disease often mimic so many other autoimmune and psychiatric illnesses, it is important to think back to when infection may have occurred. Do you spend a lot of time in a heavily wooded area? Did the symptoms begin shortly after a camping trip or other similar outing? If you suspect Lyme is causing your mystery symptoms, visit a doctor trained in the treatment of Lyme disease to be sure of accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is another common cause of mystery symptoms that is baffling to both patient and doctor alike. Suffers of chronic fatigue syndrome often experience:
• A sudden onset of fatigue that is not relieved by rest or sleep
• Flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain and low-grade fever
• Brain fog and mental confusion
• Irritability, depression and hypersensitivity
• Digestive disturbances
Chronic fatigue syndrome is thought to be caused by viral infection such as Epstein-Barr, human herpes virus 6, cytomegalovirus or an undiagnosed thyroid condition. Like most autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome can be healed through diet, supplements, herbs and the healing arts. Learn more about natural remedies for chronic fatigue syndrome by clicking this link.
Chronic candida (yeast) is often overlooked and can cause mystery symptoms that mimic multiple disorders and conditions AND lead to the development of the autoimmune disorders mentioned in this article. Those who have a candida overgrowth in their intestines commonly exhibit the following symptoms:
• Chronic vaginal yeast infections
• Autoimmune disease
• Severe mold, food and environmental allergies
• Leaky gut syndrome
• Chronic digestive complaints such as diarrhea, bloating, gas and constipation
• Eczema, psoriasis, hives and/or severe acne
• ADHD, learning and behavioral problems
• Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, OCD
• Inflammation of hair follicles on hands, feet, arms, legs
• Rectal and vaginal itching
• White coating on tongue called ‘thrush’
• Chronic sinus problems
Eradicating candida and balancing intestinal flora can get to the root cause of just about any autoimmune disease and get the body back on a healthy track. The three steps to healing chronic candida infection are to kill the candida, heal the intestines and restore good bacteria. For more information on how to treat and beat chronic candida, see my article here.
Most people associate intestinal parasites with a third world country though it is estimated that over 50 percent of the American population is infected with some type of parasite. They are a leading cause of ill health and mystery symptoms. Parasites can be picked up by handling raw meat, working or walking barefoot in a garden, from a pet, sexual contact with an infected partner or contaminated food. Symptoms are usually chronic and consist of mostly gastrointestinal complaints such as:
• Chronic diarrhea alternating with constipation
• Sore, aching intestines
• Gurgling intestines
• Intestinal cramps
• Anal itching
• Vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss
• Multiple food allergies
• Bloating, indigestion and foul-smelling gas
Other symptoms include:
• Fatigue and weakness
• Facial swelling
• Itching on soles of feet
• Restlessness/difficulty sleeping
• Brain fog, mental confusion and poor concentration
Ridding the body of parasites is essential to getting rid of mystery symptoms and avoiding serious health problems in the future. If you believe your symptoms are related to parasitic infection, there are multiple herbs, supplements and cleanses available to help eliminate the parasites and heal the gut. Learn more about how to do this by visiting reading my article on how to cure intestinal parasites.
Undiagnosed thyroid disease can cause a host of seemingly unrelated mystery symptoms. The most common thyroid diseases are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Those who have hyperthyroidism suffer because the body produces too much of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms include:
• Staring gaze
• Restlessness, anxiety, irritability and insomnia
• Severe heat intolerance
• Inability to gain weight/weight loss
• Hair loss
• Warm, moist skin
• Trembling hands
• Infrequent or absent menstrual periods
• Increased bowel movements
• Muscle weakness
Thankfully, hyperthyroidism is fairly easy to treat once it has been diagnosed. There are both conventional and alternative remedies available.
Those who have hypothyroidism have the exact opposite problem. Their bodies make too little of the thyroid hormone and their symptoms often include:
• Cold intolerance
• Inability to lose weight/weight gain
• Irregular menstrual periods
• Dry, rough pale skin
• Irritability, depression
• Loss of libido
• Memory loss
Those with hypothyroidism, too, have both conventional and alternative treatments at their disposal, which can help their thyroids function normally and relieve symptoms.
For more information on thyroid disease and what options are available, read this article.
Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
As somebody who used to suffer from this condition, I have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like. Those with ITP do not have a normal amount of blood platelets, which affects the body’s ability to clot blood and heal from injuries. Common symptoms of ITP include:
• Extreme fatigue
• Easy bruising/bruises that don’t fade
• Blood in urine or stool
• Pinpoint red spots on the skin (may look kind of like a hickey) due to bleeding beneath the skin
• Frequent nosebleeds and bleeding from gums during dental work, flossing or brushing
• Menstrual periods that are heavier than usual
The best way to tell if you have ITP or its precursor, thrombocytopenia, is to have blood work done to test platelet count. Despite what your doctor may say, that you need to take the steroid prednisone or have your spleen removed, I strongly urge you to get a second opinion from a naturopath. I discovered only recently that there is a connection between gluten intolerance and low platelets. I have gluten intolerance and once I removed it from my diet, my ITP went into remission. If a blood test reveals low platelets, book an appointment with a naturopath for alternatives and look into a gluten free diet. Most incidents of ITP do not last very long and a splenectomy is irreversible.
The most common bowel diseases are irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms vary depending on each condition but are very similar. Those suffering mystery symptoms that stem from an undiagnosed bowel disease often exhibit the following:
• Abdominal cramps and pain
• Frequent and severe diarrhea
• Weight loss
• Blood in stool
In Crohn’s disease, pain and inflammation can occur anywhere in the intestine, whereas in ulcerative colitis, pain and discomfort is felt in the upper intestine. Ulcerative colitis sufferers usually feel the most discomfort on the lower left side of their abdomen, whereas those with Crohn’s usually feel it in the lower right abdomen. Crohn’s disease occurs in patches of inflammation while ulcerative colitis inflammation is more widespread.
Irritable bowel syndrome is often brought on by stress and exacerbated by poor diet and undiagnosed food intolerances.
Though there are many conventional treatments for bowel disease, naturopathic medicine and dietary changes can work miracles in treating these common conditions. Eliminating food allergies, supplementing the diet with probiotics, fiber and supplements and replacing processed food with whole foods can help eliminate these symptoms and the need for surgery or other risky procedures. Take a look at a few of my articles on Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome to learn more about your options in solving the mystery symptoms and learning to heal.
Osteomalacia is a disease that can cause mystery symptoms. It can often mimic the symptoms of fibromyalgia but in patients with osteomalacia, bone pain and frequent bone breaks are common. It occurs when the body is severely deficient in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D due to malabsorption of nutrients from food. This malabsorption can be caused by an underlying condition such as celiac disease, which, left untreated, can destroy the villi in intestines and make nutrient absorption difficult. Common symptoms of this disease are:
• Bone pain
• Muscle pain and stiffness
• Numbness and tingling
• Bone fractures after minimal injury
• Abnormal cardiac rhythms
Those who believe they have this condition should get their vitamin D levels checked by a doctor and begin vitamin D supplementation immediately. Fifteen to twenty minutes of sun exposure per day is also recommended for those who have severe vitamin D deficiency. Calcium and phosphorus supplementation may also be necessary. With proper treatment, this condition is easily treatable and should reverse itself within six months.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause mystery symptoms and sometimes mimic the symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lyme disease and osteomalacia. Common symptoms of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are:
• Low-grade fever
• Loss of appetite
• Swollen glands
• Joint pain and swelling
• Morning stiffness
• Warm, tender, stiff joints when not used for over an hour
• Swollen joints that feel spongy to the touch
• Loss of range of motion
• Eye burning, itching and discharge
• Chest pain when breathing deeply (pleurisy)
• Numbness, tingling or burning sensations in hands and feet
• Nodules under skin (indicates severe advancement of disease)
RA can be a severely debilitating illness but there is hope. The earlier it is caught and treated, the more likely the disease will go into remission. If you believe RA is causing your mystery symptoms, I recommend taking a look at Dr. Joseph Mercola’s comprehensive, natural approach to treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Living with autoimmune disease or other chronic conditions can be challenging. Thankfully, having the correct diagnosis is half the battle in winning the fight and reclaiming your health. If you believe one of these illnesses is causing your mystery symptoms, do a little more research on it and book an appointment with an open-minded healthcare practitioner who can offer sound advice on both conventional and alternative options for treatment.
If none of these sound like what you’re going through, we’re not done yet. Check out our next installment and learn how food and preservative intolerance may be causing your mystery symptoms. Don’t give up. No matter what you’ve heard from doctors, friends, co-workers and family, you’re not crazy and it’s not all in your head. Once you get to the bottom of your mystery symptoms, you’ll be able to hold your head high and proclaim, “I told you I was sick!”