I'm so glad to have stumbled across this forum. I've skimmed numerous threads here, and the knowledge, kindness, and support that I've glimpsed in the comments give me hope that I've finally found a place that can help me better understand and deal with my health issues.
It's been a long road for me. It started roughly 5 years ago with what I thought was just chronic cough and post-nasal drip. Truth be told, I didn't give the cough and PND much thought, initially. I was a sophomore in college, and so I diverted all of my energy to studying and maintaining my GPA. I thought they were just lingering symptoms of a respiratory tract infection I had contracted during the winter quarter. Needless to say, months passed, then years. I graduated from college. Still my cough and PND remained.
This was about the time I became concerned. I went to numerous doctors and explained my situation. Fearing chronic sinusitis, some of the doctors threw antibiotics my way. These treatment methods yielded no results. Fearing allergies, some of the doctors threw antihistamines my way. They suggested decongestants. Expectorants. Nasal steroids. They suggested nasal irrigation. None of these treatment methods yielded any results. If anything, these treatments only made my cough and PND so much worse. I went to a Pulmonologist. All of the tests and the X-ray said my lungs were fine. I was beginning to feel depressed and hopeless, like the doctors would never find out what was wrong with me.
Then finally, I went to an ENT. This was about a month ago. Again I was treated for chronic sinusitis. To make a long story short, it ended up with me getting a CT scan and having the results show that my sinuses were completely normal. Apparently I didn't have chronic sinusitis. I didn't have allergies. I didn't have lung problems. So the ENT asked me if there were any other symptoms aside from cough and PND that I was experiencing. Anything at all.
Burping, is what I said. I burp all the time, but it had never occurred to me until that moment that burping could have anything to do with my cough. I guess it's because I had been burping for so long (even prior to me developing a cough) that I had mentally filed it away as normal. The ENT looked down my throat and said that, when considering a diagnosis of acid reflux, there are certain signs of irritation (I don't remember what they all are) that they look for on the voice box and that I exhibit all of them. She put me on a two week course of Nexium, of which I am on my fifth day.
Since this is just a trial run, I cannot say for certain that I have GERD, or a different type of reflux. But I've been reading up on the subject and I can't help but to have a niggling feeling that says it would make sense, if I did. Here's a list of what I experience:
- chronic cough, which gets worse during the evening and right after meals
- excess mucous production/PND
- constant burping. Sometimes the burps are dry, but other times they feel, well, I don't know how to put this, but wet. It feels like they get stuck in my throat and that they won't go back down because they are being held up by liquid.
- difficulty getting food down. Sometimes when I swallow food, I'll feel it rise back up my throat moments later.
- feeling like there is something stuck in my throat, like a lump that never goes away. I always thought this discomfort was from the PND, but perhaps it is also from stomach acid. This would make sense to me since the lump is lower in my throat, whereas the PND discomfort is up in my pharynx area.
- noisy and uncomfortable stomach. I find that my stomach gurgles a lot, and for lack of a better term, just doesn't feel "right". When it gurgles a lot, the burping/regurgitation and coughing are just terrible.
My question is, where do I go from here? I'm on the Nexium… and I know it may take awhile before I notice any difference, if I ever notice any difference, but are there other measures I can also take to calm my stomach/burping and coughing some? So far the Nexium hasn't done anything aside from give me insomnia. A couple hours after I take it, I feel a little better, but then my stomach roils worse than usual later in the day. (I take it in the morning, otherwise I literally cannot fall asleep at night.)
Do you guys have any suggestions for natural remedies? I'm willing to try anything. If there is even a slight chance that some good old fashioned natural remedies or dietary changes will ease my discomfort, I'm willing to give them a go. There's just one more thing, I'm extremely underweight, so I'd have to keep my caloric intake up. (I'm actually starting to wonder if being underweight is contributing to my acid reflux, or the other way around. Hmm. Has any literature been written on this?)
Oh, my. I seem to have written a small novel. Woe. Sorry about that! Thank you in advance to anyone who had the patience to read it all!