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Acid Reflux / GERD Message Board


Acid Reflux / GERD Board Index


I have never posted on this forum before and so I am not sure if what I say will relate to what is generally discussed on this board.

The reason I have decided to join this website and post on this forum is because I am pretty discouraged by the lack of help I've gotten from my doctors. Here's the general situation:

For some time now (almost a year) I have been experiencing some peculiar symptoms in my stomach/chest. They came on very suddenly, and have persisted over the past year, though they go through periods of being less pronounced, or completely absent, and then returning again.

The symptoms are the following:

- A feeling of tightness or pressure in my chest. This is the major symptom I experience. Everything else is secondary to it. It is a feeling of my chest being pushed and compressed as if it is in a vice. Like someone has my stomach in their fist and is squeezing it. This is quite persistent. I don't notice a very strong pattern as to when it arises, as sometimes it happens after I eat, and at other times it seems to happen on an empty stomach. Some days I won't feel it as much, other days I'll feel it the entire day.

- The chest tightness seems to also bring with it a shortness of breath. It's not really the kind of severe shortness of breath that would lead me to run to the hospital, but it is a feeling like I can't get quite enough oxygen in my lungs. I feel like I have to try harder to breath deeply. When I try to breath through my diaphragm (which is apparently where you are supposed to breath from), after about a third to a half of a breath, I can no longer breath in through the diaphragm. I feel this cramping kind of pain in the middle of my chest when I try to extend my diaphragm further. This leads me to breath more shallowly. So as long as these symptoms persist I am always getting less oxygen than I should be getting because I feel that my breathing is in some way compromised.

*I should note that although I had asthma as a young kid, I no longer have asthma symptoms and I know the chest tightness and shallow breathing are not related to asthma because I've gone to the hospital before when these symptoms were present and my lungs were completely clear, no wheezing or anything. So it's not asthma.

- Occasionally there will be actual pain, but this is not as common. I don't really experience the typical kind of "burning" that most people refer to when they talk about acid reflux. If there is pain at all, (usually it is just tightness and constricted breathing), it is usually a very sharp pain on the left side of my chest. This does seem to be causally related to food consumption. Avoiding unhealthy foods for the most part resolves this, though there are also times when I eat quite healthy, or have not eaten much at all that day, and I still get the sharp, stabbing pain in my chest.

- I also experience the typical GERD symptoms of burping, feeling food coming back up my throat, but these symptoms are much less frequent than the tightness in my chest. Whereas the burping and the food coming up my throat might happen once in a while, the tightness is an endless feeling that seems to be present all the time, even when no other GERD symptoms are present.

- There have been times that the symptoms have seemed in some way related to my sleep. Earlier this year, I had frequent episodes of waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air (classic sleep apnea symptoms). As I changed my diet, the waking up gasping for air seemed to settle down (though I believe it still happens, I'm just not conscious of it), but all the other symptoms have remained.

- I also notice that there is a spot on the left-center part of my chest that is extremely tender when I press on it. It is just under my breast, when I press down it feels like a knife.

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Here's what I've done so far:

Taken omeprazole for two and a half months. It resolved a lot of the symptoms temporarily, but they came back after a while, and then the omeprazole seemed to stop working.

I've changed my diet, eliminating gluten and most dairy products. I don't drink much soda, and my consumption of alcohol is fairly modest. I also make an effort to not combine foods that don't digest well together (ie, starches and proteins not in the same meal). In other words, I'm doing everything I can to make things easier on my stomach. I avoid most processed foods. I eat mostly meat and veggies and nuts/seeds and fruit. I take probiotics.

I go to a chiropractor for a back problem and he is trained to check for a hiatal hernia, which he determined I have. Each time I visit him he attempts to pull it down while I breath out forcefully. This seems to help my symptoms temporarily, but I can feel movement in my stomach after a couple of hours, almost as though the hernia just shifts back into place. The next time I visit him he checks for it again and sure enough, it's right back in place like it was before. And again he pulls it down...this has been a cycle that doesn't seem to be any more effective as time goes on.

I used to have h pylori but I was treated for that, so I don't think that had anything to do with this.

This is an extremely frustrating condition, mainly because it compromises my respiratory function, which has a major impact on my overall physical/mental health. Not being able to breath fully and deeply is a serious problem. And it's been this way for months, and no matter how much diet change I do, or taking prescription antacid meds, or having people manipulate my stomach physically, things aren't improving.

I hear nobody gets surgery for hiatal hernias, and I wouldn't want surgery anyway. That's an invasive treatment that carries risk and wouldn't necessarily make everything better. I'm starting to think this whole problem may have deeper roots in my nervous system...it may be connected to some deeper physiological processes relating to my emotional health (and my history), though that is pure speculation.

Can anybody shed some light on this situation?





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