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Cogntive / Non Specific Problems

I posted about this in the neurology community a while back, but aside from the mainly cognitive symptoms I've been suffering from over the past 9 months, a lot more seemingly random, very non-specific symptoms have developed over more recent weeks which seems to be just compounding the problem of trying to get a diagnosis.

I'm a 34 year old U.K male, who, in December 2008, started to notice mild issues with concentration and natural thought process, but didn't really think much of them initially. However, these issues continued to progress to the point, that by March this year, I had to leave my job, as I was no longer able to manage daily tasks (office work), given my decline in cognitive abilities. By this time, my short term memory had also become quite poor.

Aside from the cognitive issues: natural thought process impaired, getting confused quite easily, feeling disoriented, and short term memory issues, the only physical manifestation of the problem was increasingly incessant muscle twitching, and periodical problems with balance. Now, since around July, I've also developed shooting pains down both my arms and legs, and the sensation of both pin pricks and crawling on my skin, not to mention, terrible insomnia.

I was sent for an MRI of the brain back in May, which came back normal, and most recently had the following lot of blood tests carried out, all of which were normal: Thyroid Profile / T3 / Cortisol / Glucose / HbA1c / ACE / ANA / ESR / CRP / Lyme / Calcium / B12 / PTH / Folate. I've also had Coeliac disease for about 5 years, but is fully under control, as verified by having a repeat gastroendoscopy last month.

To date, I've seen 2 neurologists, one in April, and the most recent one last month, both of whom performed what I presume are the standard neurological tests of walking in a line heel to toe, reflexes, looking into eyes, etc. Both assured me there were no signs of any serious neurological illness, and alluded to the causes of my symptoms, being 'psychological'.

So now, after not really having any life at all throughout all of 2009, my health continues to decline, and I'm still no nearer to obtaining any sort of diagnosis. Any insight into possible future tests or investigations to request, to try and get to the bottom of my symptoms, would be much appreciated.
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Avatar universal

Hi There,

Thanks for your reply,

I'm not really looking for a diagnosis online, knowing how nigh on impossible that would be, more just an idea of what other investigations could be performed to assist in getting one, given I've not really had any to date, aside from the MRI and recent batch of blood tests.

I've been taking a very high quality fish oil supplement - Veg Epa - since these cognitive problems started, so a good 8 months or so now, but obviously things have carried on declining on a cognitive level. I shall definitely try and look into the Maca though. My diet - although not fantastic - is I think not bad given my current circumstances. I eat a lot of fruit, protein like chicken, and as I've also had Coeliac Disease for the past 4 or so years, eat no gluten containing foods... wheat, barley, etc.

I presumed there would have been some sort of MS indicators on the MRI scan I had in May, although perhaps not? I can definitely remember the first neurologist I saw, alluding to MS not being a possibility, though at that time back in April, my symptoms were relatively mild still, compared to how they are now. I would of hoped that the second neurologist I saw last month - despite a somewhat nonchalant and dismissive appraisal of my symptoms - would have alluded to the possibility of MS, and performed further investigations, if he thought relevant to do so. As for vascular disease - again, is this something that would of flagged up in an MRI of the brain?

The muscle twitching has been all over, in pretty every muscle imaginable - sometimes 2 or 3 muscles twitching all at the same time, although is focused predominately in thigh muscles.

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Avatar universal
I wish I could help you with a diagnosis, sorry you're having such a bad time.  Doctors seem to say their patients have psychologically based illnesses when they don't know the answer.  Do you keep a diary of your symptoms, food intake, mood, stresses and anything else you consider relevant?  Might help with later medical appointments if you can be very clear about what has happened to you, when and under what circumstances.  

The following might be useful while you're still searching for answers:

1.  Maca (Lepidium meyenii) may help with your memory problems and confusion.  Google for a local supplier or mail order company (I'm in Australia, I use Austral herbs but probably there'll be a supplier in London).  Check http://rain-tree.com/prepmethod.htm for decoction methods.  I have a friend who swears by it.  It also increases energy levels, has hormone balancing and anti-bacterial properties.

2. Concentrated fish-oil (NOT fish LIVER oil) supplements may also help with cognitive problems.  Essential fatty acids are needed for many processes in the body including hormone formation and nerve signalling.  Don't be fooled by any foods in the supermarket that claim to provide healthier products by including Omega-3s or 6s - for optimum health, it is not so much the amount of one or the other that you consume, rather it is the ratio of one to the other (yes, that's right, interestingly, in spite of amounts taken) that your body needs.  I also find that my body seems to function generally more smoothly when I take fish oil.  If for any reason fish oil doesn't suit you, take flaxseed (linseed) oil; ensure it is cold-pressed and unrefined.

3.  Google general adaptogen herbs - ashwaganda springs to mind, or gingko biloba - but do some research and choose one that suits you.  Adaptogens help the nervous system function and ward off stress damage.  Even if your nervous system is not behind your illness, the stress of your situation can't be helping you any.  Ashwaganda tastes pretty nasty but worked for me.  Be careful with herbal products - check dosage suggestions, contraindications and be sure to check any limits on duration of each course you take.  Eg, I find liquorice root helpful, but I once lost the feeling in my arm for a few minutes because I took too much and upset my body's electrolyte balance.  Eg Pau d'Arco (a herb you might consider for energy levels and general vitality, also will clear out any bacteria in your system that might be exacerbating your problems) can be taken long term but you must take breaks from it or suffer side-effects.  

4.  Don't bother with multi-vitamins, but consider the following dietary changes:  whole foods rather than refined foods (eg wholemeal rather than white breads and pastas, unrefined oils sold in dark bottles rather than clear oils in clear bottles (dark bottles prevent rancidity, unrefined oils have higher nutritional value and are easier for your body to process)...pricey though, but try ethnic food stores rather than supermarkets or health food shops...unrefined sea-salt rather than white table salt (add it to your food while cooking rather than at the table)); check yourself for allergies by removing individual common allergens from your diet for a week or so (milk, nuts, wheat etc); consider a whole-food supplement such as spirulina or chlorella (the latter if you have a family history of cancer).  Cook for yourself from scratch rather than eating processed ****.  

5.  If you find yourself often catching colds and flus, then consider olive leaf extract (not if you have a history of gall-stones).

I assume you've been checked for signs of early MS and vascular disease?

Where in your body are your muscle twitches?  In limbs could be peripheral vascular disease, in face there's a problem with your nerves either as they lead into face or out of brain, depending on the types of movements and location.  

Good luck.
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