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Jillian asked...

Tags: headache

I regularly experience headaches, dizziness, tiredness, stomach problems, pains across my shoulders and back and chest tightness (an almost panic like feeling in my chest and pit of my stomach that starts with a flush and pelvic pains). I have had blood tests and stool samples taken which have shown no action required... I am under a lot of pressure and stress with being a single parent who works full time and whose youngest has a severe form of drug resistant epilepsy. My diet is that of someone catching 5 minutes to grab a snack and I rarely get time to exercise. I was wondering if these symptoms could actually all be related to some form of stress or anxiety related problem? If so, what can I do to help? Thanks.

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The Answer

Thank you for contacting us, I am sorry that you are going through these symptoms, clearly you have a lot to deal with in your life at present and the mind and body often tell us when they are becoming stretched too far for healthy balance. With the exception of the pelvic pain all the symptoms you have been experiencing are very commonly linked to stress and can be experienced by many people in situations of stress. For example one of the most common consequences of acute or chronic stress can be shallow breathing, the person suffering from it is unaware that they are not breathing in a regular relaxed way but it is due to the presence of extra adrenaline which is produced by the body when it is under stress. 

The effect of this breathing, which is harmless, causes an increased intake of oxygen, this in turn can cause feelings of tightness in the chest, panic, flushing and feeling unable to breathe for example. It is entirely benign but obviously the symptoms are very unpleasant. Relaxation and breathing techniques can help reduce this happening very successfully however. Symptoms such as dizziness headaches and tiredness can also be attributed to this. In stressful situations the skeleton can also become tense, people can often experience this particularly in the shoulders, back and upper neck, sometimes in the scalp and this in turn can also influence the way in which we are breathing. As your Gp has ruled out any other underlying causes then it seems more likely that these symptoms may well be attributable to the type of process described above. You may like to look at the following link which is full of useful guidance and tips for dealing with stress:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression

In terms of the pelvic pain you have been experiencing you may wish to discuss this with your Gp once more, possibly a pelvic examination and  a scan may provide more useful information as to the cause. For example if there is an underlying gynaecological condition it may not necessarily be detectable on blood tests and usually requires a different type of diagnostics. Any underlying condition has the possibility of increasing stress on the body in addition and there is sometimes the possibility that hormones become disrupted in some gynaecological conditions which again could influence some of the symptoms you have been experiencing.

Finally, caring for a child or a person with drug resistant epilepsy can be extremely worrying, stressful and isolating at times, if you haven’t already you may like to look at the following link to the Epilepsy Association, as well as having many useful tips guidance support and access to the latest research findings it also has details of your local epilepsy support groups for people in situations such as yours.  

www.epilepsy.org.uk

In the meantime I do hope this information will be of some use to you and  please don’t hesitate to contact us again if you require any further help or information.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses

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