Neurology Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Spells where I zone out

For several months I have been feeling drowsy a lot,  but not only that,  I keep completely zoning out like I am hypnotized.   It happens randomly many times a day.  Less often if I'm up moving around, more often if I'm sitting at the computer or not looking around. My vision goes distorted, blurred in a way, and I feel like I could just fall over asleep...but at the same time i feel compelled to fight it.  I bring myself out of it by shaking my head or looking around at different stuff.   It's overwhelming and happens pretty randomly.   I have had a sleep study and told I didn't need a mask, that I don't have severe apnea.  I also had a brain scan and EEG with no diagnosis (I do have a 3 cm tumor above the right eye and have known about it for years but no one said anything about it causing my symptoms).  Please help.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.

Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Your workup so far has been indicated. “Spacing-out” can be an epilepsy called absence seizure. These are characterized by brief episodes of “spacing out” that may go unnoticeable to many. There will be loss of awareness during the episodes. Was your EEG with hyperventilation? This may be necessary to help identify this epilepsy.

Secondly, sleep apnea (or other sleep disorders) can lead to daytime fatigue. This is more likely to occur in overweight people who snore but can occur in anyone. Symptoms include snoring, daytime sleepiness, lack of concentration, and headaches. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause many medical problems, and with treatment many symptoms improve. The diagnosis is made by a sleep study, called a polysomnogram, and treatment involves a mask placed over the nose and/or mouth that is adjusted to improve ventilation during sleep. It sounds like you do not need this based on your post.

Trouble with concentration (and sometime memory) in younger people can have other causes. One that comes to mind is low thyroid function, what is called hypothyroidism. Low thyroid function causes fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, and memory/concentration problems in addition to several other symptoms. Another possibility is anemia, which can cause severe fatigue and thinking trouble. In addition, other causes include certain vitamin deficiencies. These can all be diagnosed with simple blood tests.

Another group of problems that can cause thinking problems and fatigue are psychiatric. This is not at all to say you are crazy or making anything up. Clinical (medical) depression and anxiety can sometimes be expressed not in sad or depressed feelings but rather in thinking troubles and fatigue. Treatment improves this.

Certain people live into adulthood with thinking troubles that are later diagnosed as learning disabilities or attention deficit disorder (ADD). Many people think of this as a childhood disorder but it can start in childhood and not be diagnosed into adulthood.

Lastly, there is a condition called chronic fatigue syndrome that may be diagnosed after other causes are evaluated.

There are several potentially treatable causes to your symptoms. I strongly suggest you share your concerns with your physician. She/he after examining you and obtaining a history may choose to recommend referral to a specialist as necessary.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.

Avatar universal
A related discussion, Zoning out was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, Spacing or Zoning out was started.
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease