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Nurse Susan
Nurse Susan, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1085
Experience:  RN, BSN, MSN-ED, Nurse Educator whose passion is helping people understand their health and wellness
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Hello I am a 47 year old female. My question is, I have

Customer Question

Hello

I am a 47 year old female. My question is, I have been taken to the hospital 3 times in the past 4 months, with signs of an allergy reaction. I now have an epie pen. But I have been to an allergist and had all the tests and nothing has showed up. The emergency doctors dont do any testing but they just tell me to see my family doctor. I spoke to the nurse and she said she thinks its fight or flight. She said I show visual signs of an allergy but my bloodpressure, temperature and sugar level is normal but my heart is beating like crazy. I have been documenting what is going on everytime and my mind is going so fast I can organize my thoughts. Do you think she is right?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  911Doctor replied 2 years ago.

911Doctor :

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer,

911Doctor :

since you are not having anaphylaxis you and apparently are not having an acute allergic reaction the ER is correct to tell you to go to your family doctor

911Doctor :

the ER is set up to diagnose and treat emergencies

911Doctor :

a complicated diagnosis such as yours

911Doctor :

is not what we are trained to do

911Doctor :

it is, however, what family practice docs and internists

911Doctor :

do

911Doctor :

I have no idea what 'fight or flight' means in terms of a medical diangosis...

911Doctor :

unless they mean panic disorder or panic attack

911Doctor :

that IS something that is like what you are talking about

911Doctor :

have you had your thyroid checked?

Customer:

is i have had my thyroid checked

911Doctor :

then how may I help? you seem to have a variety of scary but non specific symptoms....

911Doctor :

do you have a specific question for me? anything else you want to tell me about these episodes?

911Doctor :

are you there?

Expert:  Nurse Susan replied 2 years ago.
Hello JACustomer,

I would like to try and help you but need allot more information. Please explain what you mean by "visual signs of an allergy"? I know what images I think of when I think of an allergic reaction but I would like to know what happens to you. What prompts or triggers these episodes? Is it a certain food? Situation? Stress? How do they go away?

Thank you for clarifying,
Sincerely,
Susan
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
my hands and feet become very itchy, and my body becomes extremely red. I have to vomit and I have diahhera. Sweating and breathing very fast. I havent been able to figure it out exactly. It usually happens in the morning. The first time was Feb 13, it woke me up. The hospital gave me benadryl and later hydroxyzine. The next time was on Feb 24 on my way to work. Again I received benadryl and hydroxyzine. The doctor at the hospital told me to take reactine to control but it didn't work. March 3, I was sleeping and it woke me up. I was sweating, itchy and my face broke out into hires, I think. I took my own benadryl. I was vomiting and diahhera. April 30 in the morning at work. I was able to control it but it was very difficult. May 14 was bad. It happened at work in the morning, they had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital. But this time a nurse at work said she doesnt think its an allergy cause I never had a temperature, my bloodpressure was normal and my sugar level was good. But she did say that my heart was beating fast. But I have been writting everything down and I seem to be under stress when this happens? What do you think?
Expert:  Nurse Susan replied 2 years ago.
Hello JAcustomer,

Thanks for that additional information. Its helpful but I have some more questions. You believe these events are ONLY triggered by stress? You mentioned your husbands drinking, please discuss that a bit more and how you believe that relates? I am confused because at times you have awakened with these episodes, so unless your dreams were stress filled, I am not entirely sure they are ONLY triggered by stress.

Do you have troubles breathing during these episodes? Do you note that you breathe too fast during them?

Feb 13, 24, April 30, and May 14th are all Fridays or Mondays; the only date of yours that doesn't fit this pattern is the one in March on the 3rd, which is a weekend. What is different about your weekends? Do you eat or drink or do anything different?

Thank you for clarifying,
Sincerely,
Susan
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry for the delay, but it is difficult when he is around. I was upset the whole weekend of Feb 13. It started when he left Friday morning to go on a planned ice fishing trip. When I woke up late Friday morning the furnace wasn't working in our house. I texted him but he never responded, so I had to figure out how to fix it myself. Then I had a message on our answering machine from a tenant, we own a small income property, he said he had water leaking and couldn't stop it. The tenant phoned the night before. I do know my husband wont answer the phone. I had to fix that problem myself. I was able to fix the plumbing problem but the ceiling in the lower apartment was badly damaged. After all that, I had to leave for work that evening. During the weekend I was getting angry cause we had talked about him driving the truck on the ice to the ice hut. We both thought it was too dangerous but later that weekend I was on facebook to find out a 25 year old boy drove our truck up north, so my husband and his friends could drink on there way, its about 7 hours away, and drove it on the ice and was doing donuts with it until he was told to stop. When he phoned me from the hut I couldn't understand what he was saying, he we drunk. I hung up the phone and waited till he was home from his weekend. He was drunk when he came home so there was no sense in talking to him. It was the next morning bright and early when I was woken up. I yelled for my husband to help me but he said he didn't what to deal with it so he woke up our older son, who is 21 years old to help me. He called for an ambulance. One of the paramedics was rude to me, he kept asking me if I took drugs for recreational purposes, which I don't. He kept on shining a light into my eyes. Then they took me to the hospital. My husband never came out of the bedroom or called the hospital to see how I was. The hospital just gave me some medication and asked me if I wanted to speak to a social worker. At first the hospital thought I was a single parent. I was so hurt and embarrassed.

Every episode I had it was difficult to breath. I would breath rapidly and shake. I don't drink, just socially. I have tried to figure out what my eating pattern is like but I dont see anything. I work shifts, 2 weeks days, 2 weeks afternoons.

On feb 24, I had just made it to work. I was thinking about our daughter, 25 years old, she was moving out and I didn't think she could afford it. She was moving into one of my apartments.

March 3, can't figure that one out.

April 30, I was working. On my way to work I hit a raccoon and damaged my vehicle. About an hour later, I was told I made a mistake at work. Right after that it started to happen again, but I stayed in the washroom for about 30 minutes and it went away.

May 14, It happened when I started work. I started to think about the mistake I made at work, which I didn't want to make again. I asked to use the washroom but it never went away. I was taken to medical and then transported to the hospital. After all that was over I went back to work but spoke to the nurse first. She thinks its not allergies, cause my bloodpressure, temperature and sugar level was normal. She suggested something called fight or flight, or panic disorder/anxiety.

I want to learn what is wrong. I have been to my family doctor. and an allergist. It isn't stopping. I am so embarrassed, and scared to death.

About 5 years ago I was on anti depression medication cause my husband made me feel I as crazy everytime I argued about his drinking. After that I heard of Alnon which I attended for about a year and realized he was the one who needs he.

Have to go, thank you

Christine

Expert:  Nurse Susan replied 2 years ago.
Hello JAcustomer/ Christine,

Please don't worry about the delay, this format is perfect for answering when it is convenient for everyone. I am so terribly sorry you have allot going on in your life that is negative; a spouse who abuses alcohol is not a pleasant thing to deal with, I am sure. You are in a bad situation, and you are right, Alanon may have helped you with your feelings but he needs help with controlling his drinking. Unfortunately, he wont get help until HE realizes he has a need for it. I only hope his "rock bottom" doesn't happen as a result of something horrid. At least he got someone else to drive that truck; HE did not drink and drive. That is commendable. You know him far better than I; ultimatums wont likely work unless you are prepared to carry them out.

It does seem that all your episodes are triggered by stress, and may not be a true allergy...at least from what you wrote. I don't know who gave you the Epi Pen, and I do not wish to go against medical advice here, but if its NOT an anaphylaxis reaction you are having (life threatening...typically peanut allergies cause this) an Epi Pen may do you more harm than good. BUT, if your doctor who knows you better than I told you to use it, then don't go against that...but do question it. Using an Epi Pen when there is no need can raise blood pressure, heart rate, cause tremors, nervousness. If accidentally injected in a finger or thumb the digit could be lost cause of blood vessel constriction...and anywhere injected, it earns the unlucky user a trip to the Emergency Room to monitor for side effects caused by the injected epinephrine.

Online no one can state for sure what ANYTHING is...all I can do...all anyone can do..is give an educated guess based on what you wrote. I believe, given what you described that these are anxiety attacks you may be having. It may help you a bit to understand just what is happening to your body in and during an anxiety attack, or "fight or flight" as that nurse referred to it as. Understanding the pathology behind it might make whats happening physically seem a bit less intimidating when the light of understanding is shined upon it.

When people are scared, nervous, anxious, panicky, a whole host of things happens inside them. They breathe faster, (you noticed that; most people do not) and their bodies release chemicals called adrenaline because that makes muscles work better and faster. So the heart beats faster, blood pressure can rise, pupils dilate, intestines slow down...and you breathe faster because the body thinks you will need the extra oxygen for a sudden flight or fight. That was very useful thousands of years ago when we had to outrun predators, and it comes in handy every so often in modern days now; women (and men) have run from attackers thanks to the extra energy burst from the "flight or fight" reflex.

But people with anxiety issues don't fight, and they don't flee. They just remain anxious, and so they keep breathing at that fast rate, and often they don't even realize it. That changes TEMPORARILY, the balance of chemicals in the body. And that makes you feel miserable. The fancy word for that is "respiratory alkalosis" and that what causes the dizziness, shakiness, numbness of your hands and feet. Hyperventilation in anxiety (breathing too fast) even causes a feeling like you cant breathe, because the cycle runs away with itself in order to correct itself. (But you can breathe; recall you yelled to your husband- people who yell can breathe). Slowing the breathing is one way to restore the acid base balance- that is why people with anxiety and panic disorder are told to breathe in and out of a paper bag. They are breathing in their exhaled CO2, and that helps restore the balance. Control the breathing, and thats a long way to controlling this as well. Most people aren't even aware that they are breathing way too fast; you are ahead of the game in that you are aware of that.

I know there are people who can look with disdain on mental issues, but really, anxiety is as much a disorder as diabetes. Its not shameful to treat abnormal sugar levels, and its not shameful to treat abnormal stress levels or the way in which you respond to that stress. Your doctor may be able to recommend the name of a good counselor or therapist. Talking to someone about your husband may help allot. It seems you have no one to talk to here...I am not at all surprised that the feelings you can not express are being translated into physical anxiety. You are no child and I do not mean to imply you are, its just the easiest way to make an understandable analogy. It is like a 5 year old who lacks the words to explain her troubles so they become a stomach ache. She has a stomach ache because she lacks vocabulary to state her problems. You may have panic attacks because you have no one to talk to and no way to discuss what is bothering you. That is common in many families with a member who abuses alcohol.

There is no shame at all in getting help.

And I hope I was able to help you.
Sincerely,
Susan

PS: link on respiratory alkalosis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001170/
You will note it has anxiety as the prime cause.
Nurse Susan, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1085
Experience: RN, BSN, MSN-ED, Nurse Educator whose passion is helping people understand their health and wellness
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