Avatar universal

Trouble eating and anxiety-like symptoms after flu shot?? help??!

To start this off, I want to say that I am a 20 year old female college student with no history of health issues and I've never had a reaction to a flu shot before (I've had about 6-7 in my lifetime).  I work out regularly, my diet isn't terrible, and I've never had mental health issues or any reason to develop  mental health issues.

A few weeks ago I got sick with a bug that my doctor said "wasn't the flu but had flu like symptoms" and told me to take it easy. By the end of that week I had all my symptoms cleared and went back to the doctor for a post-check up, and he told me that I wasn't sick anymore and, when I asked him if it would be alright to get a flu shot in a few days, he said that I shouldn't have any problems.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I get my flu shot and about fourty minutes later start experiencing chest tightening symptoms. There was no pain, just a bit of light headedness and a slight foggyness. I went back to the hospital and they checked me into urgent care to see if it was an allergic reaction, but found nothing and told me to come back the next day if I was still having these reactions. I felt fine for the rest of that day up until later at night (about 7pm when I was in one of my night classes) that I started getting these chest reactions again, heart palipitations, shaky hands, and became flushed all over my face and my upper chest. These symptoms spiked once or twice but then dissapeared within fifteen minutes and for the rest of the evening I felt constantly dehydrated. When I drank water, I would have to go to the bathroom immediately. I went to bed and slept fine and when I went back into urgent care the doctor laughed at me and told me that its probably a temporary 48 hour symptom because my immune system had been primed to react and the introduction of a new antigen made it react to the flu shot.

The next week stayed essentially the same but I kind of felt like I was getting better. I would have these chest tightening reactions in varying intensities, typically with pressure in my lower legs or a hot feeling on my upper back and head if they were bad, but they decreased in intensity and typically only occured either in the mornings when I woke up or right after I had eaten. However, on Sunday of last week I had been at home working on some homework where I had a really bad attack - pressure in my legs, light headedness, chest tightness, and a shaky feeling in my body that wouldn't go away. I panicked and a friend took me to the ER, where I spent three hours in the waiting room and two hours checked in only to be told by the doctor that all my blood work/EKG/x-ray looked fine and that I should go talk to my primary care physician about it potentially being related to anxiety. I'm not an anxious person in the slightest ( I mean, I'm a college student but Ive had much worse semesters than this and I was completely fine up until that flu shot)  and in my gut I felt that her diagnosis was wrong but she insisted I go talk to my doctor to verify. After I left the hospital and for several days afterwards, I began noticing that my body really did not want me to eat anything and that, even after eating a slight amount, I would start showing symptoms and feeling physically ill.

After about four days of barely being able to eat, I went to my regular doctor and told him my symptoms and he told me that he thinks that I have temporary anxiety that was created from this unknown reaction going on in my body. He gave me .5g doses of Lorazepam to stop my symptoms and told me to try and eat as much as I could and that after a few days this whole thing should go away.

It has now been a week since that point and I do not feel any better. While I am fine walking, the pills only take a small edge off the symptoms and I still almost always get them after eating. I can only eat really basic foods such as chicken noodle soup, oatmeal, or light grains and anything else triggers a really strong reaction and leaves me feeling fatigued and ill. I have no fever, but my chest constantly feels weak and frail and I'll spend one hour being completely fine and the next feeling light headed, pressure and numbness in my legs, and shaky. It feels like my body is attacking whatever I put into my body.

Can anyone give me an idea of what this could be? I really don't feel like its anxiety  and its something related to this flu shot that I got. It  doesn't seem to be getting better and I'm constantly afraid my body is going to give out. Please please help I will answer any extra questions if it means I can get a general idea of whats wrong with me.
12 Responses
Avatar universal
Your doctors are the typical doctors -- they don't believe anything is wrong with their medicine and so when someone responds other than as expected they just want you to go away by giving you a magic little pill.  You don't need Lorazepam, and if you take it regularly it can become a problem.  You're instinct is your best guide, you obviously had a reaction to the vaccine -- this happens with any form of medicine, some people have bad reactions.  All medication is cost/benefit, so it is expected that some will suffer so that most will benefit, but most doctors don't know how to treat those who respond badly.  While it's very possible you're having some anxiety over what's happening, something real is happening, and that's not anxiety, which you don't have and have never had.  You know it when you have it.  Hopefully your immune system, which sounds like it was overstimulated by the vaccine particularly since it was at a time soon after already having been ill, will calm down soon and you'll be back to normal, but don't let doctors convince you it's anxiety when you know it isn't.  If you need to, find another doctor, but I'm not sure there's much they can do for this but let time heal it, but I'm no expert on that, just on having anxiety and again, you don't have that.
480448 tn?1426948538
Hi there, sorry you've had such a rough time.

I agree with Paxiled.  It sounds to me like you had a bad reaction to the flu vaccine, which absolutely happens.  The thing that stands out the most to me in that regard is the swiftness with which the symptoms started after the shot.

Were you at all anxious about getting the flu shot?  Had you had a bad experience in the past?  If not, then I cannot see how this could be solely anxiety.  I think there IS an anxiety component, making you feel worse, which is understandable.

I would recommend trying to give it some time.  Bad reactions to vaccines can linger for a short while, but you will start to feel better.  Try not to feed into your worry surrounding all of this, especially the frustration about the doctors dismissing it as anxiety.  I know that's frustrating, but the truth is, even if they 200% believed that the flu shot was the culprit, there isn't much they could do anyway, except for treating you symptomatically.  

Hang in there, hope you feel better soon...update us when you can.
Avatar universal
Do you guys have any idea on what I can do to get back to eating regularly? The vast majority of things that I was able to eat before this stupid flu shot now make me feel either some sort of shivering, light headedness, or chest pressure and im afraid its gonna give me other detrimental health effects
Avatar universal
Act like you have the flu -- eat what you feel like eating until you feel better. Take your time, just as you would if you were sick in any other way.
Avatar universal
Hello Flushot Confusion,
I had the same exact thing happen to me a few years ago.  I got the flu shot on a Thursday and I did not start having symptoms right away, but on that Sunday my head seemed to be foggy and on that Monday I had the worst panic attack which left me feeling bad for a week.  I had never ever had a panic attack before and I did not know what a panic attack was. I then continued to have the panic attacks and was put on Lorazapam which I my body for addicted to and I had to wean myself off of. The Lorazapam had horrible side effects and made me very sick.  I also have the food sensitivities and I am also sending to medication now which I had never had either before. I would not recommend taking the Lorazapam as it will make the situation much worse. Don't listen to the doctors it is most definitely the flu shot that is causing your issues.
Avatar universal
Hi, SkyGirl1234.

Thanks for your valuable information. I got flu shot a week ago and then frequently panic attack. I was not anxious. But now I am anxious, just because of panic attack. I hope the symptoms can go away soon. Do you remember how soon your panic attack go away after the flu shot? What did you do to make it go away?

Also, about food sensitivity? Is the medicine Lorazapam causing that or flu shot causing that?

Thank you very much

Hi. I can totally relate to you? How long did this go on for?? Did you take anything that helped? Herbal or meds?? I am experiencing very similar issues. Flu shot on Thursday, anxiety started on Sunday. It's been the longest three weeks and sometimes the panic attacks are unbearable. I can't work. I have a few good days mixed in. Dr gave me Ativan. I just started Chlorella and some other natural products for the stress yesterday.
I hope that you're doing great now and this is well behind you.  
Avatar universal
How long ago did you get the shot, and Have you recovered?
Avatar universal
I got the shot last October, and have since this incident recovered. It took about 9 months and was largely because my digestive issue didn't bounce back, but unfortunately no doctor was ever able to reach a conclusion about what happened and the best guess was that the flu shot sent my body into a hyperactive stress response similar to POTS.
Avatar universal
Were you experiencing any other symptoms during this time frame?
I'm going through a similar situation now. Had my flu shot two months ago, started off with terrible anxiety. Couldn't eat, had to force down food for a while after. Lost 9 pounds actually.
The anxiety still persists, just not AS intense. I am however dealing with on and off muscle twitches throughout my body and a lot of fatigue. Im waking up in the middle of the night, and takes time to fall back asleep. And when I do finally get up, even after 10 hours of sleep, I'm waking up exhausted. Alot of my symptoms pertain to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I was wondering if you delt with any of this?
Any advice or feedback, would be greatful.
I have similar symptoms, said above. The anxiety also introduces brain fogginess and dizziness. Do you have dizziness and fogginess symptoms? I am eating large amount of vitamin C every day, and feeling a bit better. In addition, I eat B-complex, including Vitamin B3. You could try that. Please let me know how you feel.
I am a physician. I got the flu shot several months ago. Same reaction: panic attacks, vision changes, brain fog, tingling in my arms. Thought I was crazy for several weeks. I talked to several coworkers that had similar reactions. Theirs were years earlier and varying degrees. Vision changes got better at 6 months for them. It is not anxiety. Started doing some digging and do not know what it is.  Narrowed it down to immune reaction or mercury toxicity. Panics attacked stopped when I took chlorella. Still have symptoms and the food sensitivities but not as bad. Worse with eating, getting nervous or mad. . Google  Andy cutler chelation protocol for some information I found. Good luck and let's hope this all resolves in 9-12 months.
Avatar universal
Vaccinations and medications can mess up your vitamin and mineral levels in your body. Throws your immune system off. Doctors don't bother to do the right blood tests, or cannot diagnose you correctly, so they say it's anxiety or depression and put you on more meds.

Try to rule out vitamin and mineral deficiency. You'd be surprised to see how many symptoms they cause.

Blood tests for Vitamin D, magnesium & Vitamin B12:

25 OH Vitamin D
Magnesium RBC
Serum B12
HotoTC levels

Avatar universal
Hi from the Uk! I have a similar flu shot horror story going back four months same symptom. Tingling, nausea,palpitations,reactions after eating, going to the toilet if I do too much cant walk far without symptoms kicking in. Had numerous trips to emergency room and doctors. Anxiety, anxiety sick of hearing it am at my wits end. Found this site with forum from folk who had the shot in 2009 and suffered the same it makes me feel better. They formed a club till they got well it was the support you need. You don't get it elsewhere I am housebound now just hoping it will wear off but it seems like a long job most on here 9 months at least. Will keep checking back for progress and support. Just don't over do it on good days or it just comes back.
Avatar universal
Oh and covered in hives rash. Been prescribed all sorts of drugs for symptoms but cant take any as well as food even painkillers make me react. Yesterday was dire got up ok but just washing dressing wears me out felt weak shaking blurred eyesight faint then heart rate shot up so called paramedics to house who monitored my heart then left. They called my docs but they never rang back. My doc said earlier this week well its in you now and theres not alot we can do. Today still weak and shaky and disorientated.
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Anxiety Community

Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1595629445
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?