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blackouts and numbness
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blackouts and numbness

My husband has been experiencing "blackouts" for years.  I just found this out recently.  They are like alcoholic blackouts where he doesn't "pass out" -- he just "comes to himself" and can't remember what he did for the past few minutes, how he got to particular place or room in the house, etc.  I'm thinking these are some kind of seizure or symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol.  The problem is that for the past 4 to 5 days, he has been experiencing numbness and tingling in his head, face, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, and feet.  He says it feels like when your extremity "goes to sleep".  At first, it was his lips and fingers and toes, so I thought he was hyperventilating from nervousness.  Now, it is all the places I already described.  Can anyone give me an idea what would be causing this?  He won't go to the doctor until enough time has passed that they won't just pass it off as alcohol or Paxil/Xanax withdrawal.  He took himself off his medications just to make sure these symptoms are NOT withdrawal.  But, all except the numbness, he has had the other symptoms for several years.  This is what began the alcoholism.  The alcohol seemed to help the other stuff so he began a 5-year affair with alcohol.  Alcohol no longer works though.  And it seems to make it all worse now.  Please help!
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Nancy:

I am sorry to hear about your husband.  Certainly alcohol can lower the seizure threshold and the "blacking out" episodes might be seizure activity.  Alcohol can also induce a neuropathy and also tremors.  Fast withdrawal from benzodiazepines can also induce seizures.  What your husband needs to do is see a physician.  One is hard pressed to diagnose a problem over the internet, epecially with compounding factors.  I think he likely needs a good general physical exam and then a good neurological exam.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
11 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn

It sounds to me like he has an anxiety disorder that lead to his self medicating with alcohol similar to what I did years ago. I also became an alcoholic and have bad withdrawal symptoms even after only 6-8 hours after my last drink.

I have tried to quit numerous times since last October and only made it 27 days at the longest before crashing and burning again. I have seizure like "shakedowns" that begin on day-4 withdrawal and those usually send me back to drinking. The shakedowns last 10-12 minutes at a time and often come 2-3 in a row. I remain semi-conscious so I feel intense pain from the muscle spasms and hard shaking. It really sucks.

I recently started on Klonopin to stop those episodes and it worked well until I was put on Celexa. Last night after only three days on Celexa I had another strong shakedown and less than 24 hours after my last drink!

I noticed the Celexa was causing increased tremor so I think it aggravated the withdrawal. I stopped the Celexa and hope not to shake today!
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Avatar_n_tn
I have some frightening symptoms and whenever I try to post, it says the quota has been reached.  So just in case a doctor might read this, I will post here.


Hi.  I'm awaiting an appt. with my rheumatologist next month.  He is away on vacation, and I am very worried.

Symptoms:

- approx. 7 times in the last year, sounds like an "explosion" in my head.  Lasts about 2 seconds, no pain involved.  Has only happened when I am lying down. After the explosions, seem to see white blotches in my vision, but think that could be normal in a very dark room.

- for approx. 6 months, on and off tingling,burning, numbness.
Tingling mostly in feet, alot of burning/cold patches in legs, thighs, hips, and lower left butt sometimes numb.  Experience some tingling/burning daily - but not constant.

- twice in last month, tingling in left side of face and tongue. Left half of nose numb.  Very frightening.  The first time it happened, it was numb for the day; second time, numb for approx. 15 minutes.

- vertigo (but not severe whirling - more like a general dizzy feeling that is usually present).  A good example of this is having to put a hand on the wall when I am washing my hair in the shower and have to close my eyes.)  Had electronystagmograph/water calorics test that showed balance mechanisms were not working at same speed.(??)  ENT dr. sent me for brain MRI.  It was normal.  Said it was probably just labyrinthitis.  That was 6 YEARS AGO.

- tinnitus used to be intermittent.  Is now almost (maybe 3/4time) always present.  Both ears.  Different pitch in each. Sometimes pulsatile.

I am female, 43 yrs. old, have had rheumatoid arthritis for 14 years.  Rheumatologist did not feel there was a relationship between the vertigo/tinnitus and burning/cold patchy feelings in legs.  Am going back next month to see if he cn help regarding the "explosions" and facial numbness.

Took Ridaura and eight entrophen 10 daily for eight years, then sulfasalazine for 4 yrs. and celebrex.  For past 2 months, have taken almost nothing, hoping all these weird things would disappear.  No improvement whatsoever.  I'm very frightened.

Please......any suggestions whatsoever?   I'm thinking along the lines of Lupus, MS (but no "heaviness" feelings!), diabetes, acoustic neuroma (however at last testing 2 yrs. ago, no hearing loss) ...... ?????   Thyroid and B12 have been checked.

Do you have any ideas at all of what these symptoms could be pointing to??

Please.

Carol

P.S.  I live in B.C. and the waiting list for MRI's is  months.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Carol:

It is difficult to tell you the etiology of your problems over the internet.  The normal MRI is comforting, although it is 6 years ago.  The chronic tinnitus may be alot of things as well as the tingling symptoms.  The pulsatile tinnitus might be a vascular problem, the only way to know for sure is to have a MRA done.  The pure midling numbness is likely not neurological as the sensory neurons do not spilt the face down the middle.  However, the other numbness can be from a number of problems.  Your arthritis might be a culpruit, but without spinal films it will be difficult to know for sure.  Some patients with RA have lupus or SLE but not all.  If you have some other symptoms of lupus such as a high sedimentation rate, high ANA or single DNA strand antibodies, malar rash, hair loss, mucous membrane changes, etc. then some of your symptoms might also have a SLE etiology.  Your symptoms do not have a MS flavor.

Sorry, I can't help much.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you so much for responding.  I will be brief.

Should I not be overly concerned with the explosion sensations in my head?  I notice that you didn't mention them, which really made me breath a sigh of relief.  (They really frightened me!!!)

Also, do you feel an acoustic neuroma is unlikely, since I had a clear MRI 6 yrs. ago and the fact there was no hearing loss when last checked 2 yrs. ago?  I had been wondering if an A.N. was possibly pressing on certain nerves, thereby creating the numbness and burning/tingling sensations (facial and leg/thigh), and also the dizziness/vertigo and tinnitus.

Thank you SO much for responding.  It is very much appreciated.

Carol
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Carol:

I am not certain what the "explosion" sesation in your head.  Most worrisome sensations in the head are headaches or ice-pick like pains not explosions.  An acoustic neuroma, schwannoma, meningoma etc could occur at any time in the CP angle causes symptoms as you describe.  These happen, but they are fairly rare.  Anyting is possible in medicine, so the answer to your question is yes, but highly unlikely.  It would be more of a parotid gland mass, which is also a rare entity.

CCF Neuro MD
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a sister who had a fall 9 weeks ago & fell on to her outstretched hand. The result was a dislocated elbow which was reduced 4 hrs later. Xrays showed no other abnormalities. Since then she has had constant pain, mainly in the shoulder. She has moderate swelling to her hand, limited movement of her hand & wrist, unable to move her elbow or her shoulder. She experiences cold feelings in her hand intermitently & occasional tingles. She has has physiotherapy & acupuncture with no effect. The latest theory is that she has reflex sympathetic dystrophy. She has been given Catapres to combat eroneous nerve signals & to date has no effect.What concerns both of us is that her condition has not improved & the doctors seem unsure. She is concerned of the long term effects of this injury & the lack of difinite direction of treatment. She is also getting run down by the constant pain & the accompaning lack of sleep. Is her condition possibly a nerve damage problem? Any direction or advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Bruce:

I can't say for sure about your sister, since I can't do the exam, visual the injury or see the imaging or lab work.  If you sister has changes in color of the arm, actual temperature changes in the skin, then she might have RSD.  If this is the case, she really needs to see a pain specialist and get into vigorous rehab.  The early treatment is started the better.  If she doesn't have RSD, then she likely needs a good evaluation of her arm and shoulder from neurologist who specializes in injury.  She may need an EMG to figure out is the nerves are damaged in the brachial plexus.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
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Avatar_n_tn
I have a cerbral peritoneal shunt due to pusedo tumor cerbri. I had the shunt put in in 1979 because of blidness. They said it was caused by blood clots in brain. I have a hypercoagualbilty state. Most of my sight returned. I then had a subarachnoid brain hemmorrage a couple of years ago. I was in coma for six weeks. I had to relearn reading, numbers writing ect. It effected my left side and I am left handed. I wanted to stay independent so I had occupational therapy and lots of help from OT. There are still days I can not write a check and have tremors. I am wondering if the damage will ever come back? I have uncontrolable  crying at times. Also I can not make little choices like turn on the bathroom light or close the door first. Will this ever get better. It has been four years I live by a calender or I can not function or take meds correctly. I have lots of help but I am really hoping that at 49 years old I won't have to depend so much on routine. I have a seizure alert dog that helps in many ways. Is there hope for not so much confusion?
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Diane:

I am very sorry for your problems.  I also apologize for the delay in answering your posting, there are so many postings that every now and then I miss one, I apologize.  Usually with brain injury in adults, we think that most of what function will be regained will happen in the first 6 to 9 months.  So, unfortunately, what is going on in your life will likely remain as it is at the anatomical level.  However, by changing things either by certain cues or other devices (such as your dog) the daily things can be made better.  Our inventive nature comes into play helping to redirect our function to what we can do.  I really hope that you find things to help you out in these things.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
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Avatar_n_tn
i have been having blackouts and ceizures but i don't drink.  does anyone know how or why?  i don't loose conciousness but i loose vision.  i get theses before my ceizures and sometimes i just get them without a ceizure following it. i don't know what it is and i'm scared it could be something serios.
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