Help - 160+ "head rushes" or "brain zaps" everyday?

Posted , 7 users are following.

Headzap
2

Hi Folks – I’m a 49 year old male and starting in May this year, I started experiencing some very weird “head rushes” or “head zaps” as I have seen other folks make reference to. I’m now 4 months in and they are continuing - getting worse and more frequent. I actually know exactly when I had the first one – I was on holidays and departing the hotel and I got this head rush that was very sharp and lasted only a few seconds. It felt like someone stuck a needle in my brain full of adrenaline. I could feel the rush come from behind my right eye and it was so strong I got tingling down my entire body. These “rushes” only last a few seconds and don’t interfere with my balance / motor skills nor do I have any cognitive break etc.… they are just very annoying and generate a bit of anxiety.  The rushes are not painful and no noise heard. After that first one, I was experiencing them 4 or 5 times every hour for the next month. For that first month, they generally only occurred when I was in situations that had a bit of anxiety involved – good or bad: i.e. playing a video game and monster jumps out, watching TV and phone rings… initially the sensation was almost pleasurable – almost like a release of sorts. Again, they only last a few seconds and once over, I do get an anxious feeling. Initially, in-between these episodes I felt fine. For the first month I just wrote these off as I must have picked up a bug while on vacation (I was in New York). Few items about me – I have never had any issues with depression or anxiety in the past and take no drugs and am a very moderate drinker. 

I began to get worried the second month as the head rushes started to occur every 10 minutes of so regardless of what I was doing – no anxiety needed. These new head rushes are similar to the more anxiety generated rushes just a bit milder. They also last just a few seconds. In the second and third month of this issue, I got as many as 80 of the milder rushes a day. As of right now (four months in), I get the milder rushes up to 160 a day. I swear I can feel a build up to each rush in the minute before they occur. I still get the “sharper” and more anxiety driven rushes as well but 3 or 4 an hour. These rushes also occur at night and the sharper ones will wake me up. I’m off work at the moment and have very little stress in my life. 

In addition to the head rushes, in month 3 and 4 I started experiencing general fatigue and am now sleeping 12 hour a day. I usually run on my treadmill for an hour and now can only manage 20 minutes before I am exhausted and drenched in sweat. One of the worse problems I am now having related to this is I have no sex drive – never had that issue before. I am also putting on weight. 

After the first month I went to see my Doctor about this – he tested my thyroid and I was a bit low so am now on 50 mg of synthroid. My vitamin B was a bit low as well so am on a B supplement. As my symptoms are so strange and persistent, I had an MRI on my head done to ensure no tumor etc.… The MRI was clean. Doc also suspected Cushing Disease so have done 2 X 24 hour urine cortisol test. In both tests my cortisol was above average. Doc had MRI on my adrenal glands to see if there was a tumor – MRI was clean. Running out of ideas, my GP has now referred me to an Endocrinologist. The Endocrinologist had me do a blood cortisol test – it came up as abnormal but too low cortisol not too high? Endocrinologist now doesn’t think it is cushing or even endocrine issue? 

I have searched high and low on the Net for folks with my similar symptoms – closest I can find are for folks with antidepressant withdrawal (SSRI) however, I have never been on antidepressants and am not on any drugs. 

Anyways – saw this forum with folks who had similar symptoms and thought I would post in hopes of finding someone in a similar situation looking for answers. 

1 like, 12 replies

12 Replies

  • Posted

    I know it seems like it's taking forever to get answers for the symptoms you're having but it sounds like you're in good hands with your doctors. These things tend to rely on a host of testing to exclude possible causes. I wouldn't rule out the vitamin deficiency .. low levels can cause what you're experiencing and even with supplementation some people have absorption issues. Has a vascular cause been checked into? Some type of venous insufficiency? Also wondering if you've had EEG's to check for a possible seizure disorder or cerebral hyperexcitability.

    ?Might be helpful to keep a log of the where's and when's. Is it only when standing? Brought about by visual or auditory stimulation? Fatigued or stressed? The more 'clues' you can offer to your doctors the better.

    Best of luck to you!

  • Headzap
    2

    Posted

    Thanks for your suggestions - I have been taking some vitamin supplement. Will ask my Doc about vascular stuff

    Of note, my head rushes this week have become even milder and fewer. They have deen getting milder last 4 weeks so hoping this will just pass - write it off to chemistry out of wack?

    Will update for other in a week or two.

    I appreciate the comments

  • Headzap
    2

    Posted

    Update - the head rushes continue to get milder and less frequent. I only get 4 or 5 an hour and some I barely feel.  That said, other symptoms remain – very low sex drive and very tired. I can sleep 14 hours straight on weekends. I still feel build-up (anxiety) leading up to a rush. As the rushes are not as strong I feel less relief after a rush – anxiety remains. I continue to put on weight.

    New issue: for the past month when I wake up my baby toe on left side has been tingling – not quite asleep but a tingle when I step out of bed, tingle goes away. For the past week the tingle has been getting worse and doesn’t go all away – toe a bit sore? No clue if this has anything to do with my issue? I’ve read about these type of things with diabetes.

    Here are my test results from old to new. In brackets () is the normal range. Doc(s) hasn’t called to give me any opinions on latest test:

    Aug17

    CORTISOL RANDOM 65 - 540 18 nmol/L LOW

    VOLUME, 24HOUR URINE (600 – 1800) 2100 mL/d HIGH

    CREATININE, 24 HOUR URINE (6.3 - 22.7) 26.5 mmol/d HIGH

    FREE CORTISOL, 24 HOUR URINE (0 – 193) 290 nmol/d HIGH

    Sep 07

    Cortisol 396 nmol/L G VIEW

    LH 2.6 IU/L (1.0-9.0) C VIEW

    FSH 3.6 IU/L (1.0-19.0) C VIEW

    Prolactin 6 ug/L (3-13) C VIEW

    Testosterone Total 9.1 nmol/L (6.1-27.1) C VIEW

    Testosterone Free Calculated 183 pmol/L (110-660) C VIEW

    Testosterone Bioavailable Calculated 4.3 nmol/L (2.8-15.5) C VIEW

    SHBG 31 nmol/L (13-89) C VIEW

    TSH 3.05 mIU/L (0.34-5.60) C VIEW

    FT4 13.6 pmol/L (7.0-17.0) C VIEW

    Sept 11

    CORTISOL RANDOM (65 – 540) 18 nmol/L LOW

    Sept 25

    THYROID STIMULATING HORMONE (TSH) (0.35 – 5) 3.36 mIU/L NORMAL

    FREE T4 (12 – 22) 18 pmol/L NORMAL

    FREE T3 (3.4 - 5.9) 5.2 pmol/L NORMAL

    Sept 25

    VOLUME, 24HOUR URINE (600 – 1800) 1580 mL/d NORMAL

    CREATININE, 24 HOUR URINE (6.3 - 22.7)  24.9 mmol/d HIGH

    NORMETANEPHRINES < 3.3 5.9 umol/d HIGH

    METANEPHRINES < 1.7 1.1 umol/d NORMAL

    No clue where I go from here? Love to get some input as I think my Docs are stumped.

     

  • Headzap
    2

    Posted

    Update - the head rushes continue to get milder and less frequent. I only get 4 or 5 an hour and some I barely feel.  That said, other symptoms remain – very low sex drive and very tired. I can sleep 14 hours straight on weekends. I still feel build-up (anxiety) leading up to a rush. As the rushes are not as strong I feel less relief after a rush – anxiety remains. I continue to put on weight.

    New issue: for the past month when I wake up my baby toe on left side has been tingling – not quite asleep but a tingle when I step out of bed, tingle goes away. For the past week the tingle has been getting worse and doesn’t go all away – toe a bit sore? No clue if this has anything to do with my issue? I’ve read about these type of things with diabetes.

    Here are my test results from old to new. In brackets () is the normal range. Doc(s) hasn’t called to give me any opinions on latest test:

    Aug17

    CORTISOL RANDOM 65 - 540 18 nmol/L LOW

    VOLUME, 24HOUR URINE (600 – 1800) 2100 mL/d HIGH

    CREATININE, 24 HOUR URINE (6.3 - 22.7) 26.5 mmol/d HIGH

    FREE CORTISOL, 24 HOUR URINE (0 – 193) 290 nmol/d HIGH

    Sep 07

    Cortisol 396 nmol/L G VIEW

    LH 2.6 IU/L (1.0-9.0) C VIEW

    FSH 3.6 IU/L (1.0-19.0) C VIEW

    Prolactin 6 ug/L (3-13) C VIEW

    Testosterone Total 9.1 nmol/L (6.1-27.1) C VIEW

    Testosterone Free Calculated 183 pmol/L (110-660) C VIEW

    Testosterone Bioavailable Calculated 4.3 nmol/L (2.8-15.5) C VIEW

    SHBG 31 nmol/L (13-89) C VIEW

    TSH 3.05 mIU/L (0.34-5.60) C VIEW

    FT4 13.6 pmol/L (7.0-17.0) C VIEW

    Sept 11

    CORTISOL RANDOM (65 – 540) 18 nmol/L LOW

    Sept 25

    THYROID STIMULATING HORMONE (TSH) (0.35 – 5) 3.36 mIU/L NORMAL

    FREE T4 (12 – 22) 18 pmol/L NORMAL

    FREE T3 (3.4 - 5.9) 5.2 pmol/L NORMAL

    Sept 25

    VOLUME, 24HOUR URINE (600 – 1800) 1580 mL/d NORMAL

    CREATININE, 24 HOUR URINE (6.3 - 22.7)  24.9 mmol/d HIGH

    NORMETANEPHRINES < 3.3 5.9 umol/d HIGH

    METANEPHRINES < 1.7 1.1 umol/d NORMAL

    No clue where I go from here? Love to get some input as I think my Docs are stumped.

     

    • Posted

      Your cortisol levels are significantly low.  A sign of adrenal insufficiency. That in itself can cause the head sensations you describe .. they're referred to as cortisol rushes. Fatigue is common as well. Without proper cortisol levels metabolism slows. More importantly it can interfere with cardiac function and blood pressure. Based on prior labs this appears to be episodic, explaining why your symptoms fluctuate.

      There is treatment available that would be determined by the cause of insufficiency. For some it's autoimmune based, for others it's stems directly from the adrenal gland.

      I'm sure a meeting with your doctor will help clarify next steps. Most likely a referral to an endocrinologist. 

    • Posted

      Thanks for your input - I am seeing an endocrinologist now - she doesn't think my levels are to far out? My reg Doc does see it as adrenal related - we will see. Thanks again for your help.

    • Posted

      I see your post is a few months old, but I was wondering if you ever got any answers to your issue. I’m experiencing the exact same sensation as you are describing. It’s not the same zap sensations as with withdrawal symptoms (I’ve had it before). It’s more of a distinct small rush that is happening every few minutes. I’ve also had issues with tingingling in my fingers and toes. Everything the doctor tested me for came back normal. I was planning to make an appointment with my neurologist to see if he could figure it out. I suffer from occasional migraines and daily headaches; I thought it might all be related. 
    • Posted

      Hey carrie26227 - sorry for late response - have not checked back here for a bit. Unfortunately I am basically in the same place - still no answers and have seen a second endrocrinolgist. Both endos think stress related but i am not convinced and will be seeing a neurologist. Just did new blood test and like my previous blood and urine results always high Normetanephrines with normal Metanephrines. I think it may be an undiscoved adrinal releasing tumor -Pheochromocytoma. Problem is the specialists just want to blame stress. My GP is great and I will push him for imaging of my organ of Zuckerkandl. They did my pituitery. adrinals. lungs and this is next in the list of adrinal releasing tumor sites.

      My head zaps have decreased in frequency and hope yours do too. Dont let them write off your issues and keep fighting to figure it out. I will check back here and post if I have any change. Let us all know how you are doing - I suspect more folks out there with similar issues so hope we can all help each other in the end.

  • Posted

    Have you heard from your blood test yet? My nephew is having a blood test for this today. He has been having this is zapping for several months and it is driving him crazy.
  • Posted

    Same issue here... visited like 100s of doc. all say stress or anxiety issue. but m not convinced just like you. 

    anyways I mostly got this after smoking cigg. does any of you had this problem??

    • saad24
      1

      Posted

      and we all should share this frequently may be we will figure this out. hope so 😊

  • Posted

    Hello,

    My issues started last December, I have since been diagnosed with vaso vagal syncope and chronic hypotension, none of which explain my constant head rushes and feeling like I'm on street drugs. Every thing I have researched is leading me two possibilities that haven't been ruled out or considered yet: high serotonin, or GBHD. Dopamine beta hydroxylase deficiency (deficiency in norepinephrine) a very rare disease at this time but describes almost everything I encounter especially when my issues hit the extremes level that have me on the floor helpless. Has anyone had a dr. Mention either of these?

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