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Palpitation, racing heart, burning hair smell, weight loss, generalized anxiety disorder, depression. Cancer?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
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I smelt burning hair at the end of March with palpitation and racing heart. Since then I've lost 10% body weight from the last 4 months and suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and depression. Could I possibly have cancer?
Could the weight loss likely be from anxiety or should I look into something else? I am more anxious about this and it causes my health anxiety to skyrocket. My stomach has problems. No pain just looses bowels and quick digestion. Especially at the worse time on the anxiety.
Posted Sat, 28 Apr 2012 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 1 hour later

Thanks for posting your query.

In view of the palpitations and weight loss, I believe that the first thing that needs to be ruled out is hyperthyroidism. For the same, you will need to get a thyroid profile done.

Please get a stool for occult blood and a hemogram done. This is in view of the fact that you are nearly 60 years old, hence any possibility (although less likely) of colon cancer needs to be ruled out as it can also present with weight loss and bowel symptoms and palpitations.

Causes of palpitations include anemia, hyperthyroidism, abnormal levels of electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol intake, stress and anxiety, heart conditions like narrowing of the coronary arteries and paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardias or Wolfe-Parkinson-White syndrome.

Considering your history of hypertension and raised cholesterol levels, you should get a stress ECHO done as we need to rule out any possibility of coronary artery disease due to the presence of risk factors in your history.

Last possibility if every investigation mentioned above comes out normal is of generalized anxiety disorder. Symptoms include fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, insomnia, and hot flashes. My suggestion is to consult a good psychiatrist and get the diagnosis confirmed as treatment can be started only when the diagnosis is confirmed. Once you start the medication, it is important not to stop taking it abruptly and dose tapering may be needed. You may need anti anxiety medicines like SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and benzodiazepines.

Also try making some lifestyle changes. You can share your worries or stress with your family and friends and they can help you out by giving valid reasons or solutions. Also start doing yoga or meditation exercises which help in having a calming effect on the mind.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries. Wishing you good health.

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