Not Feeling Right? This Could Be Why
The disease that jumped from 30,000 cases to 300,000 in one year.
What you feel: Tired, achy, forgetful; you have swollen knees and shooting pains that wake you up at night.
What you did: You didn't notice the bull's-eye rash that appears on 70 to 80 percent of people with Lyme, but you did take a test for the disease as soon as you started feeling bad. (It came back negative.)
What it might be: **Lyme disease (yep), which sometimes takes longer than a few weeks to develop an immune response that's strong enough to show up on the test, explains Paul Mead, the chief of epidemiology and surveillance activity for the CDC's Bacterial Diseases Branch. He explains that while Lyme is a growing public health problem, the huge bump in numbers is due more to accounting than to a terrifying proliferation of ticks: 30,000 cases were reported in 2012, but in 2013, the CDC estimated that the total number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease was roughly 10 times higher than what was reported, so they rounded way up.
What to do: Give the test another chance, especially if you remember visiting a Lyme hotspot around the time you developed symptoms. In up to 5 percent of untreated patients, chronic neurological problems like numbness in the hands or feet can show up years later. Those who test positive will be put on heavy-duty antibiotics, but even then, about 5 to 20 percent still experience aches and pains that can last another six months or more.
The illness that's ready for a makeover.
What you feel: After any type of physical or mental exertion (like taking a brisk walk or giving a presentation), you feel utterly spent for a full day; you often wake up tired even after a good night's rest; your memory is spotty; your muscles are achy.
What you did: You had your thyroid checked, and it's normal. You talked to a therapist, but you don't feel depressed.
What it might be: **Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis), a complex illness that affects between 1 million and 4 million Americans (more than 80 percent of them women). It's such an enigma that the Institute of Medicine is currently evaluating the diagnostic criteria to come up with an official definition—and possibly change the name to something more legit-sounding than "chronic fatigue syndrome." Because roughly half of the patients with CFS/ME developed it after getting struck by something like mono or Epstein-Barr, experts once suspected it was another type of virus, explains Nancy Klimas, MD, chair of Clinical Immunology at Nova Southeastern University. But they've recently noticed an autoimmune component, as well, says Klimas.
What to do: Find a specialist who will take your symptoms seriously. There's no cure, and full recovery is rare, but research shows that the majority of patients who seek help do feel better over time.
**The explanation for your discomfort could be any number of things, but this is one to bring up with your doctor, who is, of course, the person you should be talking to.