New member intro: Reflux(?), shortness of breath, fatigue, anxiety

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Ruhr
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2013
Total Posts : 53
   Posted 7/19/2013 11:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello. Ruhr's the name.

I've been lurking for a while, reading other people's experiences, and I think it's time to join the community and introduce myself. I'll summarise with bullet points first before going into long descriptions.

Stats: 44 year old male, 5'6", about 150#, sedentary and not active. Occasional consumer of alcoholic beverages.

Symptoms:
* shortness of breath (dyspnea)
* occasional irregular heartbeat during bad bouts of dyspnea?
* lump in my throat feeling
* triggers coughing, or burping to resolve the feeling (also for dyspnea)
* occasional heartburn
* anxiety
* fatigue
* pale stools

History: I've been diagnosed with GERD before, back around 2005 or so. I was treated with PPIs. Those issues gradually subsided, only to return first slightly around 2010-2011, and definitely in the second half of 2012 I can say I started not feeling like "myself".

Meds:
* 20 mg Prilosec once daily. GI has put me on that for now.
* 10 mg Ambien nightly, which I'm trying to wean myself off. I've been taking for Ambien a few years now, progressively more and more each week (from a few times a week, until now nightly).
* 0.5 mg Ativan as needed, which I have been fairly good lately taking only as needed, instead of 0.5 mg almost daily a few months ago.
* 1 g Lovaza twice daily for cholesterol/triglicerides
* Gaviscon antacid tablets as needed when heartburn strikes
* Gelusil antacid/antigas tablets as needed when heartburn and/or gas comes
* 325 mg aspirin, as needed, if I get crazy and think I'm having a heart attack

Test history (within 8 months):
* Endoscopy normal, with a little gastritis, though nothing notable about esophagus
* Echo/stress test of the heart: fairly normal with no sign of ischemia
* Coronary calcium CT scan: Score of 0 (yay!)
* Pulmonary function test: normal. Pulmonologist says lungs are clear, by listening and viewing CTs

Upcoming tests/dr. visits:
* 24 hour esophageal pH test (re-diagnose GERD? LPR?)
* CT of chest and neck
* Basic metabolic panel blood test

Detail:
This year since around February 2013 feeling dyspnea or shortness of breath even at rest. Unexpected feelings of having to gasp for air. I never feel like this when I first wake up in the morning, though it starts to set on while the day progresses. It can last through the day and into the evening. Or temporarily get better, and return in the evening. These are usually mild though when it's really bad, it seems like my heart beats slightly fast and sometimes skips a beat. I sometimes experience the globus pharyngis or lump in my throat feeling. These symptoms trigger coughing (always dry), or if I can, burping which makes me feel better. Sometimes I do get actual heartburn, which is usually relieved by an antacid, such as Gelusil or Gaviscon. Finally, when the bouts of dyspnea get really bad, anxiety is triggered, where I feel like I'm having a mini panic attack. I take an Ativan when it's real bad. There is an overall tiredness and fatigue, and lack of wanting to do anything active. During bad episodes, my stool seems to turn a pale yellowish colour, or slightly green, not a healthy rich dark brown.

It's getting bad where I experience some sort of shortness of breath, at least six days out of the week. There are more fair or bad days than there are good days. It's starting to affect my quality of life. I intentionally stay home and not go to dances or other activities if I have bouts of fatigue or dyspnea. I don't go out to socialise with friends/drink any more. If I do drink, I'll have a nice beer or wine at home (2 drinks max--I've really cut down). I intentionally did not make a flight in April because I was having a bad few weeks and did not want to travel; I rescheduled in June and luckily could fly, though didn't feel 100% during the trip. I have trips coming up and I'm afraid I would cancel those trips if I keep feeling like this.

I'm in between GIs right now: rotating staff. The former GI put me on 20 mg Prilosec, though it doesn't seem to be doing much. I'm getting a 24 hr pH test on Monday.

Dyspnea was bad this week so I went back to my Primary Care Physician. He shrugged, said go to an ENT. Take some neck and CT scans. Get a blood test ("basic metabolic panel").

My own theories, after reading up on some Healing Well posts, is that I might not have GERD, but some sort of LPR. The globus matches it. I rarely get actual heartburn--it happens--though most of the time it's more a feeling of dyspnea, with some burping that comes along with it where I feel much better after burping. I dunno. I guess the 24 pH test will shed some light on that. I don't know what's going on with the shortness of breath, and the heartbeat skipping sometimes though. Maybe some sort of reflux is causing the shortness of breath? Maybe anxiety? I'm not usually anxious--except when the dyspnea is really bad, or if I have a really bad case of heartburn! (Which came first, the chicken or the egg?)

I don't want to feel like this any more. Every day I think about my dyspnea, or my gas/reflux, and I hardly feel "normal" any more. I'm just wondering, what to do, what to do?

I hope I can connect with you guys out there and figure out what's going on. Also share my experiences with others if that is going to help.

Thanks for reading.

Ruhr

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 6934
   Posted 7/20/2013 8:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Ruhr,
Welcome to Healing Well!  Thanks for providing such a thorough introduction and starting a new thread.  It really helps a lot!
 
Have you had your gallbladder checked?  The stool colors can sometimes be a flag.  I assume if you're under the care of a GI doc, he/she would consider that possibility right away.  It's good that you've sought medical attention for all this.  You'd be surprised how many people try to deal with it alone.
 
It really sounds like anxiety is a huge part of what's going on with you.  The GERD symptoms become much more bothersome when the anxiety kicks in.  Symptoms that would be annoying for someone without the anxiety, become unbearable with the addition of the anxiety.
 
My husband has anxiety issues, including health anxiety, so I totally understand how that affects you.  At one point he was getting anxiety attacks regularly and ending up in the ER each time.  He's much better now.
 
Have you checked out the anxiety forum?  These two forums together might really give you a two-pronged approach to finding help.  Here's the link: http://www.healingwell.com/community/default.aspx?f=9
 
You mentioned you are sedentary.  You would be surprised at how taking a daily walk would help with anxiety and even sleep issues.  I've had times in my life when things were stressful, and walking really helped calm down my free-floating anxiety issues.
 
There are lots of great members here, as you must know from your lurking.  I'm sure they will be by soon to provide some great help and support.
Hang in there...you'll figure it out!
Take care,
Denise
GERD/Heartburn Moderator
Nissen Fundoplication 2/09
Allergy/Asthma

"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”

“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
Eckhart Tolle

Ruhr
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2013
Total Posts : 53
   Posted 7/20/2013 6:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Denise, thanks for the warm welcome!

Re: gall bladder, that hasn't been checked out yet. I'm in between GIs: was seen by a Fellow (jr. doctor) the first time and mention of gall bladder didn't come up, even with a mention of pale stool colour (I guess that went right over their heads). When I'm feeling bad, there definitely seems to be a correlation with paler stool. My next appointment is going to be with a different Fellow (hello: revolving door doctors! GRRR), so I'll bring up gall bladders in my conversation with him.

Anxiety is a component of what I'm experiencing now, although I only notice my anxiety when my bouts of dyspnea or heartburn get REALLY bad. Nevertheless, I think I'll say hello over at the anxiety forum as I know there are a lot of patients with reflux + anxiety.

Regarding being active, yeah I know that would do me good, though when I feel out of breath, and get winded just walking up a flight of stairs, it really takes the wind out of the sails so to speak, and I don't want to do anything active. Vicious circle!

Thanks again!

Ruhr

gerd_hell
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/7/2013 10:20 PM (GMT -6)   
hi:

so i posted on a different forum about this same issue: shortness of breath, and there was good response, but not anymore. And i got it agan bad. I'm in NY for the summer, i'm from South America, and I get it every time we get heat waves and humidity. tonight i realized it is the humidity, for it was cool/chilly but very humid and yet i had a shortness of breath episode. I got home and i felt better. i want out to do grocery shopping the there it was again. The weather just changed, you can just feel it in the air, so much humidity and it's rainny now. I have never had, that i know, asthma or any allergies. but it seems like i'm having asthma symptoms, very related to my acid reflux. i feel like the humidity triggers the shortness of breath, and then or at the same time it makes me have a reflux/bloating/gas flare up. My question is, is there any sort of test for this to see if you have asthma related to humidity or something in the air? thanks for any help,

John.
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