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Acid Reflux / GERD Message Board

Acid Reflux / GERD Board Index


I'm a recent lurker and appreciate the voices of experience on this board. GERD can be such a nerve-wracking experience!

Longish history to follow with some questions near the end.

I am a 40 y.o. woman who has had very occasional heartburn for the past 19 years. About 4 years ago I started getting odd pains in my rib cage (felt much like post-surgical phrenic nerve irritation) and went to see my family physician twice with those vague complaints. I walked away feeling like a real hypochondriac, too.

The second time I had also complained of a feeling of something being stuck at my diaphragm as well as tingling in my left arm along the ulnar distribution. My doctor suggested that it could be GERD and that I could try a two-week trial of OTC ranitidine and go from there. But since I was nursing my son, I decided to let that slide. It all went away within a month.

Cut to last fall. I have a gnawing knot of pain behind the lower sternum and a "sticky" painful sore throat, especially on one side. What's more, I wake in the middle of the night, coughing from brash in my throat, and realize that this nocturnal coughing has been going on for a couple of years, off and on. I do have GERD! I feel okay on awakening but after I eat something, there is hell to pay for the rest of the day! I try Zantac 75 bid. The pain remits after a week and stays away for two or three months.

It flares up again a month ago. Try Zantac and strict eating and postural discipline. Everything clears up. I backslide. The pain comes back worse than ever. One evening I bend over, feel something sort of give way in my chest and suffer from clenching pain for two days, just behind the xiphoid process. Felt more like spasms than anything. I also notice pain on exertion, but only if I am using my arms.

So I see the doctor again, she recommends 20 mg. omeprazole bid and an EGD (which I have done two days from now). I have been on Prilosec for five days now and notice that I am largely free of pain, still have a fullness in the throat.

So what I would like to know is how common vasovagal episodes are with reflux. Today, while riding in the car, I suddenly felt as if I would pass out. No seeing stars or roaring in the ears, just a fleeting feeling of profound weakness and the knowledge that I would faint. Except I didn't. Got the same feeling in the next half hour and noted that it happened when acid splashed up fairly high--something which seldom happens to me.

And what's with the arms? I haven't explained that phenomenon well, yet. I can be pushing my toddler's stroller, carrying him on my hip, or even just stirring a stiff dumpling batter with a lot of gusto and will get a peculiar, dragging sensation in the pit of my chest. If I press my elbows on a desk too hard, or get my hands really cold, I get chest pain. The tingling in the last two fingers of my left hand has also come back. My theory is that my hands are more sensitive because my esophagus is being digested into sludge and the arm & chest nerve pathways are interconnected. ANyone else experience this?

My doctor did not see fit to pursue cardiac testing because of age and family Hx; people in all branches of my family all die in their nineties and hundreds.

Oh yeah--what's with the PVCs? My heart "thumps" several times a day as much as it did when I was pregnant, or in the days when two pots of coffee wasn't quite enough!

Thanks for any insight.

Beth (a.k.a. raspberries)

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