Symptoms A-Z

General Numbness Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand general numbness symptoms, including 9 causes & common questions.

This symptom can also be referred to as: tingling all over

An image depicting a person suffering from general numbness symptoms

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Contents

  1. 9 Possible General Numbness Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

9 Possible General Numbness Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced general numbness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Guillain-barre syndrome

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a condition in which the body's immune system damages parts of neurons. Guillain-Barre syndrome usually occurs after an infection or other triggering event. It is believed that the event leads to an abnormal immune response in which the body produces antibodies, specific immune particles that attack neurons or the material lining the neurons.

Symptoms include progressive weakness, numbness or tingling, decreased or loss of reflexes, pain in the arms, leg, or back, double vision, loss of balance, abnormal heart rhythms or blood pressure levels, and difficulty breathing.

Treatment primarily involves intravenous immunoglobulin therapy or plasma exchange therapy, along with monitoring in a hospital or intensive care unit and supportive care for pain and abnormal vital signs.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: diarrhea, shortness of breath, constipation, general numbness, spontaneous back pain

Symptoms that always occur with guillain-barre syndrome: progressive weakness

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Low calcium level

Hypocalcemia is a condition where there is not enough calcium in the blood. Calcium is a mineral contained in the blood, which helps the heart and other muscles function properly, and is needed to maintain strong teeth and bones.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath, irritability, general numbness, tingling foot

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Folate (vitamin) deficiency

Folate is also called folic acid or vitamin B9. It is needed to create red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. A shortage of folate leads to a shortage of healthy red blood cells, which is also called anemia.

Folate deficiency can be caused by poor diet; alcohol use; some medications; diseases of the large intestine; and pregnancy, since the growing baby requires folate in larger amounts.

Symptoms include severe fatigue; loss of appetite; diarrhea; paleness; sore tongue; and irritability. The same symptoms can appear in other conditions, especially blood disorders.

Folate deficiency is also a cause of abnormal brain and spine development in a fetus. For these reasons, it is very important to see a medical provider if these symptoms occur.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, blood tests, and sometimes digestive tract studies.

Treatment involves immediate supplementation of folate with injections, followed by folate and other vitamin and mineral tablets; improvement in diet; and treating any underlying digestive or blood disorder.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea

Symptoms that never occur with folate (vitamin) deficiency: abdominal swelling

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

New migraine

New, or new-onset, migraine means the person has never experienced a migraine headache before. A migraine is a one-sided headache that causes intense pain and throbbing due to blood vessels dilating in the brain.

The exact reason for new-onset migraine headache is not known, but a number of causes are being studied:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Soy isoflavone supplements, especially in men.
  • Use and overuse of certain medications.
  • Traumatic head injury.
  • Angioma, which is a cluster of dilated blood vessels in the brain.
  • A complication of surgery for some heart conditions.

Anyone with a sudden severe headache should be seen by a medical provider, so that a more serious cause can be ruled out. A transient ischemic attack, also known as TIA or mini-stroke, can have symptoms similar to a migraine but is far more serious.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging such as a CT scan.

Treatment for migraine varies with the individual. Lifestyle changes may be recommended and there are a number of medications that may be tried.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: new headache, fatigue, nausea, mild headache, headache that worsens when head moves

Symptoms that always occur with new migraine: new headache

Symptoms that never occur with new migraine: fever, diarrhea, productive cough, headache resulting from a head injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

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Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a bump, blow, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: new headache, irritability, clear runny nose, vision changes, general numbness

Symptoms that always occur with traumatic brain injury: head injury

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Vitamin b12 deficiency

B12 is an essential vitamin for the production of myelin, a compound that speeds up the conduction of nerve impulses, and the production of red blood cells, the cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. It only occurs naturally in diets containing animal byproducts.

B12 deficiency can cause serious and irreversible damage to the nervous system and lead to difficulties in cognition, balance, motion, and an inability to create sufficient blood cells to supply the body with oxygen.

The main and most effective treatment is taking B12 supplements with a specific recommendation from a medical provider.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, history of headaches, racing heart beat

Symptoms that never occur with vitamin b12 deficiency: menstrual period changes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Multiple sclerosis (ms)

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the central nervous system. The body's immune system attacks nerve fibers and their myelin covering. This causes irreversible scarring called "sclerosis," which interferes with the transmission of signals between the brain and the body.

The cause is unknown. It may be connected to a genetic predisposition. The disease usually appears between ages 20 to 50 and is far more common in women than in men. Other risk factors include family history; viral infections such as Epstein-Barr; having other autoimmune diseases; and smoking.

Symptoms include numbness or weakness in arms, legs, or body; partial or total loss of vision in one or both eyes; tingling or shock-like sensation, especially in the neck; tremor; and loss of coordination.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, neurological examination, blood tests, MRI, and sometimes a spinal tap.

There is no cure for MS, but treatment with corticosteroids and plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) can slow the course of the disease and manage symptoms for better quality of life.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: severe fatigue, constipation, numbness, decreased sex drive, signs of optic neuritis

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the feeling of numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. Idiopathic means the cause is not known, and chronic means the condition is ongoing without getting better or worse.

The condition is most often found in people over age 60. Idiopathic neuropathy has no known cause.

Symptoms include uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the feet; difficulty standing or walking due to pain and lack of normal sensitivity; and weakness and cramping in the muscles of the feet and ankles.

Peripheral neuropathy can greatly interfere with quality of life, so a medical provider should be seen in order to treat the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination; blood tests to rule out other conditions; and neurologic and muscle studies such as electromyography.

Treatment involves over-the-counter pain relievers; prescription pain relievers to manage more severe pain; physical therapy and safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation in the feet; and therapeutic footwear to help with balance and walking.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack)

Transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes called a "mini stroke" or a "warning stroke." Any stroke means that blood flow somewhere in the brain has been blocked by a clot.

Risk factors include smoking, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, though anyone can experience a TIA.

Symptoms are "transient," meaning they come and go within minutes because the clot dissolves or moves on its own. Stroke symptoms include weakness, numbness, and paralysis on one side of the face and/or body; slurred speech; abnormal vision; and sudden, severe headache.

A TIA does not cause permanent damage because it is over quickly. However, the patient must get treatment because a TIA is a warning that a more damaging stroke is likely to occur. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; CT scan or MRI; and electrocardiogram.

Treatment includes anticoagulant medication to prevent further clots. Surgery to clear some of the arteries may also be recommended.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck

Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack): bilateral weakness

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About General Numbness

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Do you hear a ringing or whistling sound no one else hears?
  • Turn your head toward the side of your body that is hurting. Lift your head up as someone else pushes down on your head. Does this cause greater pain in your upper body? (This is known as Spurling's test.)
  • Have you noticed any vision changes?
  • Are you experiencing a headache?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out why you're having general numbness

General Numbness Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced general numbness have also experienced:

  • 9% Feeling Itchy Or Tingling All Over
  • 3% Fatigue
  • 3% Headache

People who have experienced general numbness were most often matched with:

  • 50% Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • 33% Low Calcium Level
  • 16% Folate (Vitamin) Deficiency

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

General Numbness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having general numbness