My symptoms are - left side of tongue and soft tissue around it is sore and feels swollen. I can feel tenderness under my jaw, and the inflammation seems to follow a path down my neck to a particular spot deep inside by my breastbone. If I irritate the spot on my chest, it causes me to cough and gag. This is all very painful and is ruining my life. I've lost track of the number of doctors I've been to (not all included below) - can find no help. I've been trying to do some research on my own, and am wondering if I could have a deep neck infection. My current doctor says no, because it does not show in bloodtests, I am not running a fever, and I would be much sicker if that were the case. (I'm wondering just how sick I have to be?!) My reasearch indicates that these types of infections don't always show in blood tests, but I've found doctors are hard to argue with. Anyway, below is a list of events. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. Sorry so long.
Nov 2003 – Left wisdom tooth pulled (no antibiotics), dry socket developed, packed several times
Dec 2003 – Diagnosed with severe upper respiratory viral infection (no blood test taken)
Jan 2004 – Diagnosed with sinusitis lasting 6 months & treated off and on with different antibiotics, antihistamines, etc. .During treatment began noticing tingling and pain in my tongue, severe jaw pain, and slight discomfort down my breastbone (all on left side only). Sinus CT – normal.
July 2004 – Clinically diagnosed with jaw infection which had spread to the gland and was squeezing nerves causing me discomfort (jaw, gland, down the side of my neck, chest, etc.) and given antibiotics. Blood tests were normal, but doctor said this was not uncommon when an infection localizes. Chest x-ray – normal.
Aug 2004 – No improvement. Referred to oral pathologist. Full panoramic x-ray done - normal. A-typical neuralgia diagnosed. (WRONG DIAGNOSIS – see below)
Sept 2004 – Problems persist. ENT finds inflammation on my tongue and removes it. Biopsy shows inflammation only. (Had inflammation removed 3 times – biopsies normal except showed inflammation). Throat CT done – normal. Throat scope – normal. Allergy tested – a few low level allergies.
Aug 2005 – All problems still ongoing – left side only. Another chest x-ray as well as a pulmonary function test performed. Asthma diagnosed. I try & tell doctors that lung constriction is on left side ONLY. Asthma meds ineffective. Placed on prednisone.
June 2006 – Referred to pulmonologist who seemed to disagree with asthma diagnosis. Chest CT scan done – normal. He tells me I should see an oral surgeon (could not get into for 6 months).
July 2006 - Although no indication by x-ray, dentist decides to drill into tooth (next to original dry socket) because she notices sensitivity to cold. After 2 ½ years, abscess tooth finally FOUND! Jaw pain immediately relieved. Coughing is much better. I am put on antibiotics & a week later the tooth is removed per my request. Four days later, swelling develops along jaw bone with terrible pressure like chest pain (left side). A few weeks later, I feel a “bursting” sensation at a very precise point along my breastbone. One left rib is extremely sore and I feel a burning sensation down my left chest cavity.
Aug 2006 – I see an oral surgeon.. After examination and consultation he says he is leaning toward a diagnosis of infection and talks about sending me to an infectious disease specialist. He wants to consult with an ENT first. I was never able to reschedule with him (long story). I was on oral antibiotics for about 4 weeks after the abscessed tooth was pulled. However, I was also on Prednisone (once again) which I was told could have been affecting the effectiveness of the antibiotics. Swelling eventually went away after several weeks.
Sept 2006 – Began seeing an Internal Medicine specialist. Full stress testing, blood testing, electrocardiogram, upper GI, and nuclear jaw scan performed. All tests came back normal except jaw scan showed “hot spots”. Jaw pain continues to improve, but soft tissue, neck (lymph gland area), and breastbone still extremely painful – I still cough if I sit or lay in a way that agitates my chest. She refuses to believe it could be infection.
Jan 2007 – I revisit oral pathologist who once again diagnoses neuralgia and some inflammation. However, he cannot explain why I become hoarse when the soft tissue on my gum becomes even more irritated (seemingly by have my tongue rub against it when I try talking)…says “I must just be tired”. He tells me to stop using tartar control toothpaste. Says breastbone pain not connected.
Feb 2007 – Internal Medicine doctor sends me to pain clinic for cortisol injections into my rib joints. (Possible diagnosis – Costochondritis?) Condition does not improve.
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