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Can stress cause this?

I am a 27 year old Caucasian female, healthy weight, do not smoke, no drug/alcohol use, no previous history of any medical issues. For the last 3 years I have had an increasing number of symptoms that I cannot find a reason for. I am wondering if these can be caused by stress alone (my job is extremely stressful)?

*I have started to find several grey hairs (no one in my family went grey before 50 - some not at all).
*I am exhausted all the time (at the weekend I sleep for around 10 hours and still feel tired). During the week I feel as though I haven't slept at all when I wake up.
*Ringing in my ears on and off.
*Stomach problems - stabbing pains in lower abdomen, constipation (keep getting fissures/haemorrhoids as a result), bloating, gas, nausea at times.
*Difficult to stay a normal weight, regardless of diet.
*Memory trouble (other people have pointed this out. I will forget what people have said very quickly, cannot multi-task, get confused easily and struggle to focus on work).
*Muscle weakness (even the 5 min walk from my office to bus station is really tiring now).
*Teeth have very suddenly started to chip and decay (this week alone I had 5 fillings and one tooth has rotted to the nerve and required extraction). My gums are receding. This has only happened in the last year.
*Very heavy periods (I get black rings under my eyes, muscles cramps and feel dizzy). Although a blood test ruled out anaemia/thyroid problems.
*Skin is drying out.
*No sex drive whatsoever.
*More hair on face, stomach, arms (blood test ruled out hormonal imbalances).
*Depressed frequently (because of low energy) and motivation is zero.
*Feel cold very easily. When I do warm up, I am suddenly hot and sweaty. My temperature control no longer seems to work.
*Never used to get colds. In the last 3 years I have had 3 serious chest infections (one coughing up blood) and several colds. Had another minor chest/throat infection last month and still have a productive cough. I am now taking additional Vit C (plus multivitamins), but doesn't seem to do much.

I generally feel crap and feel like I'm getting worse. I have less and less energy to do normal things and feel like my body is suddenly ageing very quickly (several people have remarked I look a lot older - I certainly feel it)! My GP cannot find anything wrong. The only thing I can think has changed is my job. But can stress cause all of the above?
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Avatar universal
Some of what you list is common to hypothyroidism.  Dental problems like you describe apparently are not uncommon--I seriously, seriously doubt dental problems like yours could have anything to do with stress.  Gray hair can appear as a result of accompanying vitiligo, another autoimmune disorder.  Tiredness, dry skin, inability to lose weight are all signs of hypothyroidism.

Any autoimmune diseases in your family (not necessary for you to have hypothyroid, but would be another factor).

You said you were checked for thyroid.  But MANY doctors do not check properly for thyroid.  A TSH level alone is not enough--you need free T3 (not just T3) and free T4.  In addition, many doctors are slaves to the test numbers, which have been set at controversial levels.

In addition, there is a strong relationship between hypothyroidism and PCOS--and the excess hair you describe is suspicious for PCOS.  I don't know what sort of hormonal test you had, but I think you need this checked out further.

You need to see an endocrinologist knowledgeable in both hypothyroidism and PCOS.  I have learned that many endocrinologists really just want to focus on diabetes, so choose carefully.  I am surprised your GP didn't send you to one based on the excess hair growth alone.

Look at the site "Stop the Thyroid Madness>"  They're pretty militant--their view is that doctors generally under treat hypothyroidism--but you will learn a lot about thyroid disorders and how to test for it.  There are even labs from which you can self order tests.  

The thyroid disorders community on this board seems pretty active.  Take a look,..
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Avatar universal
Interesting question whether the hair can go grey so I found this recent study.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10112656/Stress-is-to-blame-for-grey-hairs.html
I read recently that they have proven Vitamin C does not have any preventative effect for colds. I don't have the link so you might want to google it to find the latest.
Take all of the above with a grain of salt and ask doc if you are interested in the Vit C issue. The grey hair isn't going to disappear so I would forget it. Lots of people get grey hairs at your age, nothing you can do about it as far as I know and family history is not a guarantee.
I had a receding gum issue but my dentist used lasers on them 6 years ago at each regular appointment for maybe 4 times. The measurements indicated the gums improved and are stable so he stopped the laser and they are still stable with the improved readings. Did your dentist discuss all the reasons they can recede to ensure you aren't accidentally hurting them? If not consider getting another.
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Avatar universal
I'm not sure what the Vitamin C is for given what you're describing.  Taking specific supplements without a diagnosis of what's going on is striking out in the dark.  Some of what you describe might be attributed to your diet -- the teeth, the weight problem, the drying skin -- all could be signs of too many simple carbs and insufficient and insufficiently balanced minerals.  But with so many symptoms, it could be any number of things -- Lyme Disease, thyroid as mentioned, insufficient magnesium, some hidden infection -- just too much stuff there.  I think you need more than your GP can provide in terms of ruling out something physiological.
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Avatar universal
I meant to add above a possible lack of essential fatty acids as well.
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Avatar universal
Just a question -- have you been on a lot of antibiotics before all this ganged up on you?
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Avatar universal
Hi. Thank you everyone for your responses. I generally avoid taking any antibiotics for anything (I think maybe 8 years ago I took some before having wisdom teeth out). The grey hair doesn't bother me for aesthetic reasons (can always dye it if it gets bad), but it was so random that I added it as a symptom.

My sister and aunt have PCOS, but this was ruled out with me (their symptoms are very different to mine - they have put on a LOT of weight and periods were erratic and stopped entirely. Mine are very heavy and regular and I'm not overweight). I was tested for PCOS more thoroughly when my sister was diagnosed and they found nothing.

The auto immune thing is interesting. No one in my family has thyroid problems, but my mother was told she had an autoimmune disorder at 53, but never had any of my symptoms. Mostly she had sores and scarring in odd places that didn't heal. I don't have this. I'll check the boards for both autoimmune stuff and thyroid though.

I will ask my dentist about laser treatment, as my teeth are worrying me. They have deteriorated very quickly in a short space of time and the gums are definitely getting lower and thinner.

I will have another look at fine tuning my diet. I was told to eat a lot of salmon, eggs and nuts, and try to stick to 5 or more fruit/veg a day, but I'm not an expert on nutrition and likely need help from someone who can plan a regular diet for me to ensure I'm not missing anything.
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Avatar universal

How long ago did they do PCOS testing?

You can have high levels of testosterone without all the signs of PCOS and that can cause hirsutism.  High testosterone in women is often labelled PCOS for reasons I don't fully understand even if one has only one symptom (eg hirsutism) and no sign of polycystic ovaries.  Also, menstrual irregularities, not just amenorrhea, can be related to PCOS/high testosterone.  

My very thin daughter had treatment resistant acne and was found to have high testosterone, but no other signs of PCOS.  Spironalactone has been very effective,  Not to scare you, but a testosterone secreting tumor on the ovaries or adrenals (almost always benign) can cause high testosterone. (Not found in my daughter's case, so the high testosterone is idiopathic.)

I continue you to urge you to look into hypothyroidism with a specialist.  A good diet will help, but if you are deficient in thyroid it will not be sufficient. I really would not leave this entirely in the hands of a GP..
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