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Getting paranoid. Feeling tingling sensation in face, nervous, on low blood sugar. Is it multiple sclerosis?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 2272 Questions
So this is probably just my mind case of hypochondria talking here, but my question relates to MS.

My roommate works with clinical studies for MS and as such he tells me a lot about them and it has me sort of paranoid. Nevertheless, I will try to be through in my explanation here and hopefully someone here can tell me if they recommend I actually consult a physician in an office setting or if I'm just being paranoid.

Everyone once in awhile I get a tingling sensation in my face. It mainly occurs when I am driving a car for long distances or sitting for long periods of time, am extremely nervous or very low on blood sugar (or all 3). Sometimes however, it seems to occur for no reason. Here's where it gets weird: this doesn't happen very often, if I had to guess I'd guess an average of 3-4 times a year. The experience is usually quite short lived, lasting a few minutes to half an hour.

That said however, getting up and walking around seems to "fix" the problem. While it has only happened a handful of times in the past 5-7 years, if I let it go, say when driving, the tingling becomes more pronounced. It can cause my left eye to squint down and water to the point that I can't see very well out of it. It also can spread to my hands. When it spreads to my hands, if I don't get up and walk around, or at least flex my hands repeatedly my hands become difficult to use and the muscles seem to become someone stiff and form my hand into what a child might make when imitating a dinosaur claw (this has happened twice in my life, both times 5+ years ago and has not occurred to this degree since).

I mentioned it to a doctor a few years back during a routine physical. He stated that it was probably something to do with my O2 levels and suggested breathing in a paper bag for a few minutes when it occurs. I do not know if this is works or not because it has never happened when I had access to a paper bag and it does not occur often enough for me to carry one around.

As for how often this happens. It first happened to me mildly when I was probably 16. I am now 27. It happened very mildly yesterday and today. Before that it was 6+ weeks ago, before that it was somewhere around 9 months. This seems to be the way it is, sometimes it's weeks or months or even a year in between instances of the tingles. The frequency does not seem to be increasing and actually I would say that the "symptoms" have gotten better over time.

As I said it's very strange because I can't think of a time it's occurred when I was not sitting and getting up and walking around "fixes" the issue within a few minutes, left to run its course it seems to "claw" my hands until I get up and walk and the problem rapidly subsides, the same goes for the issue with my eye getting squinty. Usually, even when driving the tingling goes away within 20 minutes or so, even if I don't walk around. I should also state, as I don't believe I was clear earlier, that usually this is confined to my face, but even when it spreads to my hands and I DON'T walk around it hasn't caused "claws" in years and when it did I was in college and to be honest, under the effects of marijuana (I no longer use any drugs of any kind that are not Rx'd to me by a doctor).

The problem only XXXXXXX to the level that I actually pulled over my car once. It didn't affect my hands at this time, but my eye got so squinty and teared up that I felt it was unsafe to continue driving at highway speeds. I pulled over in a parking lot at the next exit, got out of the car, walked around for a few minutes then sat on a park bench for a few more. The problem went away and I continued driving another number of hours without tingling of any kind having reoccurred.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Posted Fri, 13 Jul 2012 in Multiple Sclerosis
Answered by Dr. Ram Choudhary 1 hour later
Hi ,
Thanks for writing in.
Please do not listen to your friend's frightening stories of Multiple Sclerosis(MS). The disease is very uncommon per se, so you are safe.
Another thing is that the symptoms of MS do not get reversed in minutes.
They take days to weeks and fluctuate but rarely come to touch normal base line and no one with MS is that lucky that disease is staying there for 5years and there is no progressive functional limitation.
I think your doctor told- you are washing out excess CO2 that is resulting in tingling and advised to breath in the bag to build it. So this should help whenever you have the symptoms.
I don't think you need to undergo any investigations. To be doubly sure, you can get an serum electrolytes Calcium, Phosphate, Magnesium and Potassium levels and get them reviewed here
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