Patient Comments: Pheochromocytoma - Symptoms and Signs

Question:What symptoms and signs did you experience with your pheochromocytoma?

Comment from: Billg, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: October 02

I am being tested right now for pheochromocytoma. I have long history of high blood pressure (BP). I am 52 years old now but had 2 stents installed 13 years ago. Two weeks ago I started with headaches, night sweats and BP that hit 195/140. Typical BP is 120/70. I had several bouts of spiking BP.

Comment from: Sally, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 05

I have been tested for pheochromocytoma 8 years ago, i.e., only a urinary collection that didn't show anything. For a few years there had been an on and off occasion where I experienced the symptoms but lately it is happening almost once or twice a week. I am not anxious and very relaxed and then suddenly I start feeling bad, my pulse rises and if I measure my blood pressure it is way above 220/118. I have headache and start shivering. I immediately take a Natrilix (an additional pill the doctor gave me) and in about an hours' time everything is okay. Tuesday the same thing happened and after the Natrilix my blood pressure went back to normal but within the next hour I had an incident again and as I couldn't take any more Natrilix I went to the outpatients' clinic. By the time, 2 hours later, when they attended to me everything was back to normal. I just can't handle it anymore that no one understands that it is an incident that occurs and if it has subsided I am as healthy as can be.

Comment from: Steve, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: November 18

I am 60 years of age now (2013). I first was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was entering high school. I don't know the actual blood pressure from that time, but my pediatrician let it go until I graduated from high school. I changed doctors then, and got an internist who did the 24 hour urine tests. There was evidence of elevated noradrenaline, leading to the first suspicion of pheochromocytoma. I did have terrible episodes of sweating and a seriously impacted adolescence because of it), and I might have had symptomatic headaches that I didn't recognize as such. However, the internist put me on old-school high blood pressure medications (NaQua) and let me go off to college for a year to be re-examined after the school term. In those days there was no MRI, CAT scan, etc., so I had an arteriogram which revealed nothing much (1972), maybe a shadow on one of my adrenal glands. This led to exploratory abdominal surgery during which the surgeons found and excised a pheochromocytoma tumor the size of a half dollar on the lower end of my aorta where it bifurcates. However my blood pressure did not stabilize, and further urine tests still showed elevated noradrenaline, causing the doctors to conclude that I had a second pheochromocytoma but not on my adrenals. After another arteriogram and a genogram, a duck-egg sized mass was discovered on my sympathetic nervous system behind my clavicle and removed. Neither of these pheochromocytomas were malignant. At the time I was told that I was the first pheochromocytoma patient known to have 2 of them, neither of which were on the adrenals. Since then I've lived a normal life, mostly without medications, with periods of high activity. I do have Horner's Syndrome as a result of the surgery, and for several years following the surgery I experienced a heightened histaminic response (severe bee sting and poison ivy reaction, trip to the emergency room for a fly bite) but I'm normal in that regard now. Today I sweat (high normal) and high blood pressure has returned, but it seems like the kind many 60 year olds get and it is controlled by medications. I did a 24 hour urine test at age 55 which gave no indicators.

Comment from: palau1boi, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: July 26

I was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma in 2013 on both adrenal glands at the age of 27. Blood pressures reached the 320s from systolic, diastolic and heart rate nearly 400s. I felt fine and dandy until one day I realized that my migraines were getting worse. Because, I had to take (4) 500 mg Excedrin extra strength just to go through the day at work. Left adrenal was 4 cm and right adrenal was at least 6.3 cm. I heard that the disease is rare. It literally threw me off when the endocrinologist told me the name and the downside of it. After the removal of both adrenal glands, I noticed a sudden change or increase of my weight from 150 lb to 210 lb, legs and feet were always swollen even though I do exercise and am eating right; and steroid intakes every day. It is not always easy to evaluate the circumstances, although my family is oblivious about my health restrictions, etc. But the main factor of keeping up with my daily living is to avoid depression. That's the only thing I'm always aware of. Doctors promise a prolonged life due to the fact that it may take away half of the things you're used to do or loss of metabolism, but hey, nothing can stop me from doing the things I love and enjoy; like my beautiful nieces and nephews.

Comment from: Lori, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 30

I used to have a few nights a week that I could not fall asleep as quickly as I would have wanted. I would be up until 2 or 3 am, just lying in bed. I leaned that if I counted backwards from 99 to zero, it would help me fall asleep. I added dream exploration to my lifestyle and that prompted me to seek out better sleep quality so I can recall my dreams. As a result I found the counting method, and also use melatonin pills for when counting does not work. We also darkened our bedroom. I learned that even a little bit of light can cause the body to produce wakefulness promoting chemicals in the body. So we installed blackout curtains in our two windows. Now I can recall my dreams and most nights I sleep like a baby.

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