Background: 44 year old male in decent health. Retired from the Army in 2006 and had a complete physical. Everything was fine except for lower back degenerative disk diease and mild hearing loss. Took a contractor job in Iraq. After 4-months, I was sick with extreme fatigue, head pressure, lightheaded and tinnitus. Finished my year there in early 2007 and took a 3-month vacation at home and now am working for the government in Germany.
After getting over whatever illness I had in Iraq (lasted 3-4 weeks), I was left with constant painless head pressure, lightheaded and tinnitus. Saw a couple of general doctors in Iraq and was given prescription pain medication (even though it mostly painless) and was told allergies or sinus or tension headache. Tried the meds with no change with the head pressure. Saw an ENT in Iraq who felt it just a left-over from a viral infection which could take months to heal.
When I came back from Iraq, I had a CT Scan, sinus x-rays and had a chiropractor work my back and neck for a month. The MDs ruled out a sinus infection or serious allergies. They gave me more pain medication (do not take), high BP med (do not have high BP) and a nasal spray thinking it was some type rhinitis or chronic headache. I took 3-months off at home to rest and relax in case it was burnout. Sometimes at night, I feel a painless throbbing in the back of my neck and lower head when it is on the pillow.
Questions: 1) Can a viral infection take months to completely get over and can the head pressure lightheaded feeling be attributed to a post viral infection? 2) Can you develop a chronic headache without any history of headache and have just pressure without pain? The prescription meds did nothing for head pressure.
I am pretty much at a total loss since having this stuff for a year now. Have lived in Iraq, KY and Germany with no change. Have seen 5-doctors who all had different opinions to include allergies, tension headache, sinus inflamation (not infection), rhinitis.
Do you have a sense of fullness or pressure in your ears? Is your overall balance off? Has your hearing been tested? Any sense that your hearing threshhold varies? If the answer to these questions is mostly "Yes" then do a search on Meniere's Disease. This is a disorder of increased fluid pressure in the INNER ear (not the middle ear), variable hearing loss (loss and then improvement), episodes - which may be subtle - of dizziness, and ringing in the ears.
Yes, a viral infection of the inner ear can have lasting (many months) effects.
If I'm off base, then describe your symptoms in more detail and I'll try again.
My ears do feel plugged up like when flying. This comes and goes. I do have high level hearing loss from the years in the Army, but the tinnitus and stuffy ears where not present until I got sick in Iraq. Had a hearing test when I came back and they said the tinnitus and stuffy ears were the result of the hearing loss even though I told them I had had the same hearing loss for years without the symptoms. Do not get spins or wobbly, just lightheaded most of the time.
I had many of these symptoms too. I never mentioned them to my doctor because I thought the symptoms were so generic that I would have to go through many tests and still not get an accurate diagnosis. When I recently had blood work done for a routine check-up, my doc casually mentioned that I was B12 deficient. She said I would have to take B12 supplements for the rest of my life because once someone is B12 deficient, it never really goes away. This alarmed me, so I began to research the deficiency. Low and behold, many of my symptoms were mentioned in the research. I was skeptical because nothing else I had tried had many any difference, but within a few days of starting the B12 supplements, my headaches and dizziness began to fade. Over the past month, I've continued to feel better and better.
If you are having these symptoms, research B12 deficiency. Left untreated, it can be cause irrepairable neurological damage, not to mention negatively impacting your quality of lie! For years, the normal blood levels of B12 were thought to be 200-900 pg/ml. Recent studies have shown that these ranges aren't accurate, and that people can begin to experience symptoms when their B12 levels fall below 550 pg/ml! If your doc isn't up on this latest research, they could see that you have a level in the 200's or 300's and not even mention it to you because they think your level is well within the "normal" range.
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