What causes persistent tingling in arms, tinnitus, nausea and back pain?

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Posted on Fri, 18 Mar 2016 in General Health
Question: Over the last few years I have experienced a gripping pain in the middle my back followed by a feeling of nausea and suffocation. My head and face will tingle as will my arms and other muscular areas. My ears ring loudly and I am overcome by a fear that if I don't do something to stop it I will die. It always happens in my sleep and I am awakened with these symptoms...any Ideas?
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Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Nocturnal panic attacks most likely

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

Looking at that description, it is a constellation of symptoms involving many different systems with no anatomical relation between each other. No spinal disorder (since this seems to be your initial symptom) causes symptoms higher up, pain may radiate but the other symptoms (ear ringing, tingling in the face) are not possible, as flow of signals is from the brain downwards not the other way around. The fact that the symptoms have been present for years confirms it represents no progressing condition as well.

In my opinion those symptoms are part of nocturnal panic attacks. Symptoms like tingling, suffocation, nausea, ear ringing, fear of dying are all typical of panic attack.

Now most cases the cause of nocturnal panic attacks may remain unknown, but in some cases there is an identifiable cause present during the night. Such causes are sleep apnea and reflux acid disease.

Sleep apnea is more common in obese people who snore at night but may happen in non-obese people with narrow airways. What happens is that during the night as muscles relax the airway close and there is a transitory interruption of breathing which can lead to interruption of sleep and in some cases awakenings with panic attacks. So sleep apnea should be considered especially if you are overweight and snore a lot, feel fatigued during the day. Polysomnography an exam where electrodes are placed on the scalp overnight to record brain electrical activity is necessary when that disorder is suspected.

As for reflux acid disease, it is due to a relaxed gastroesophageal sphincter leading to reflux of the stomach content up the esophagus, which can lead to pain, sudden awakenings and panic attacks. More prone to happen over the night as the lying position makes it easier. Antiacids may be helpful in relieving symptoms.

If no such causes are found, management is similar to other anxiety disorders, involves psychotherapy and antianxiety medication.

I remain at your disposal for other questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Olsi Taka

Neurologist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3652 Questions

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