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Medical Mystery: Unexplained Fatigue After A European Trip

Tuesday 8 September 2020


From US newspaper The Philadelphia Inquirer:


Barbara Veltri
(Courtesy of Barbara Veltri)

Medical mystery: Unexplained fatigue after a European trip

By Alfred Mauro, For the Inquirer
September 4, 2020
© 2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC.

Two weeks after returning from a summer in Italy, Barbara Veltri began to feel debilitating fatigue. The 61-year-old complained of pain in multiple joints, and her hair was noticeably dry and brittle. Before and during the trip, she was symptom-free.

Veltri’s regular doctor assumed jet lag was to blame, and recommended she take over-the-counter analgesics for the pain, and prescribed sleep aids for the fatigue. The medications did not help what she described as “life disruptive” pain.

Veltri came to me with her pain symptoms. I suspected a medical cause, other than primary pain or orthopedic, and recommended she get a full blood workup.

Diagnosis and treatment of fatigue, which can be chronic, may be difficult, as it is a common complaint. The fatigue can be accompanied by depression, pain, and emotional distress, all of which Veltri was experiencing. Often, these symptoms can be attributed to overwork, both physical and psychologic in nature. Other diseases, such as diabetes or heart and lung ailments, can exacerbate the symptoms and sometimes result in a delay of a true diagnosis. Additionally, chronic fatigue may be caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, causing chronic pain, tension headaches, or multi-joint pain.


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