GERD and mystery illness

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New Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 12/11/2010 3:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello.  I have GERD, and take Nexium and Ranitidine for it.  These meds seem to work for my heartburn issues, but I definitely have something else going on.
I guess I should say that I am a 46 year old female, smoker.  My mystery illness symptoms began in December 2008.  It began with chest discomfort and shortness of breath, which scared the crap out of me, and then came the anxiety attacks.  I ended up in the ER a couple of times.  First time they said it was anxiety and hyperventilation syndrome.  The second time they gave me a GI cocktail which did nothing, then they were thinking maybe heart, so they gave me a nitro which made me feel terrible, so they figured not heart.  They gave me iv dilaudid and lorazepam which made me feel a lot better.
I have had the following tests over the past 2 years.
  • endoscopy  (normal, no signs of hiatal hernia or damage from gerd)
  • x-rays of lungs and heart (normal)
  • ultrasound to check bile duct (normal, gall bladder removed in 1990)
  • ct scan (abdominal and pelvic.............normal)
  • ct scan (chest and abdomen.....normal, but found small pulmonary nodules on my lungs, large bone spur on my spine, and scoliosis)
  • barrium swallow (normal, normal, normal)
  • stess echocardiagram (normal, heart looked good)

These are my symptoms:

  • upper abdominal, center below breast bone(discomfort, dull ache, gnawing feeling, at times this ache feels like it goes straight to my rear end.  I don't know any other way to describe it)
  • chest fullness (discomfort, seems to radiate from stomach, makes me anxious and short of breath)
  • constipation (not always, but it is always a struggle and strain to go)
  • shortness of breath
  • pain between shoulder blades (makes me feel nauseated)
  • take a lot of deep breaths, sometimes have to yawn to get a good breath
  • feels like my heart goes "phlunk" when I exhale sometimes
  • sometimes while talking I get this sensation in my chest and throat that makes it hard to keep talking, have to stop until sensation leaves
  • spasm like sensation in chest
  • burping, burping, burping, as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning and all throughout the day. 

I have read up on everything, like fibro, perimenopause, gerd, heart disease, celiac disease and h pylori.

Something interesting.  Between June and November of this year, I felt great.  Every once in awhile, maybe a little hint of one of my symptoms, but for the most part felt great.  I seem to be getting nowhere with my doctor, and when I asked him if he would test me for h pylori (of which I have all the symptoms) he just told me that he really didn't think that was it.  So, that's one test I haven't had.  I am going to demand one on Monday, and we'll see.

Whatever it is I have going, it is making my life a living hell.  It's not just anxiety. I am not anxious all the time, only if my symptoms are so bad to the point I can't breathe well.  Something is definitely wrong with me.

One more thing I would like to add, is that the other night my stomach was so bad, it felt as if hands were twisting my stomach.  It was excruciating for like 5 minutes, and then just a dull ache afterward.

Please, if anyone has any wisdom with any of this, please post your ideas.  I will take all the advice I can get!  Thank you so much!






New Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 12/11/2010 4:16 PM (GMT -6)   
One more thing as far as symptoms go. I have daily bloating which makes my pants feel tight. This happense both on a full and empty stomach.

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 12/11/2010 5:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I noticed you hadn't had a motility study done to rule out nutcracker esophagus or other motility problems.
Ask your GI for this test to rule it out. Meanwhile the pain could be from the vegus nerve getting irritated.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1544
   Posted 12/11/2010 10:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Sounds like perimenopause to me. I went through hell in my mid-late 40's. I saw many doctors and had many tests..........all normal.
When was your last visit to the OB/GYN? She/he needs to check out your breasts/cervix/ovaries.
I also have fibromyalgia, but my trip through perimenopause was unbelievably awful. I felt like I was dying every single day for years. There was always something frightening going on.
Have you tried a low dose antidepressant? That really helped me with some of the physical symptoms that really scare me.
But seriously.........never underestimate the power of fluctuating hormones!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1544
   Posted 12/11/2010 10:24 PM (GMT -6)   
P.S........A transvaginal ultrasound will show more about your ovaries than a ct scan.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 12/12/2010 1:50 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Joy. I will talk to my doc about the nutcracker esophagus and do some reading on it as well. My endoscopy that was done in July 09 showed a perfect, pink, happy little esophagus, but who knows. Thanks again for your advice.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 12/12/2010 2:10 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks Cathy. I have done so much reading on perimenopause that for awhile there I was absolutely certain that was what was going on. Went to my OB 6 months ago, had an abnormal pap (per usual due to HPV) and am due to go back in January for a second pap.

I freaked myself out thinking ovarian cancer for a bit too, but I don't have any lower pelvic pain or cramping, so I kind of ruled that one out. My GP and I talked about it, and she went back and looked through the CT scan on the pelvis and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

So, were your symptoms similar to mine for perimenopause? Did your doctor diagnose you with that?

Good to know that I am not the only one going crazy with crazy symptoms and normal tests! I will talk to my GP about getting on some antidepressants and see if that helps.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1544
   Posted 12/12/2010 8:54 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi again,
I don't want to scare you.....just inform you......but ovarian cancer many times has no other symptoms than GI-type symptoms, especially bloating. (I'm going through that concern right now. Have an appointment with OB/GYN this week).
I was in the ER one Christmas day with severe lower right-sided pain. Had a ct scan there. Turns out it was a small cyst on my ovary. I then went to my OB/GYN and she had them do a transvaginal ultrasound. She said a TV ultrasound is SO MUCH more informative than even a ct scan.
Also.....there's a reliable blood test for ovarian cancer.

I had a horrible case of influenza in l995, followed by pneumonia, then 2 ear infections. I was on antibiotics for 2 months. Then I developed IBS. Then I slowly started into perimenopause......and developed GERD, daily migraines, buzzing in my entire body, panic attacks, strange feelings that I couldn't take in enough air and many other symptoms. I spent 7 months sleeping upright in a chair because I had incredible pressure and tightness in my chest and neck, irregular heartbeats, feeling weak and like I was going to pass out, etc., etc., etc. My sinuses went crazy too, and I had 2 sinus surgeries.

I had almost every test in the book..........even thought I had Lyme disease, but don't (according to several different tests at different labs). I saw a rhematologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, internal medicine, neurologist, OB/GYN, infectious disease, several ENTs, opthomologist, reproductive endocrinologist. I was NOT a happy camper. And at the time I had 2 young children to raise. It was hell.

I was on HRT for about 5 years, and I'm thinking that made alot of things worse.....especially GERD. The PPI I took for the GERD probably gave me the daily migraines (I discovered later). Life was horrible for a long time.
I do wonder if some of my problems was having that horrible flu and pneumonia...........or if it was all those antibiotics that may have ruined my GI tract.

Life is alot better for me now (I'm 60), and I have alot of good spells. But I still have strange symptoms crop up.
Right now I feel like I have gastroparesis.

Life got alot better for me a couple years ago, when I started on a very small dose (I'm extremely sensitive to meds) of a beta blocker and sertraline (zoloft). But now I'm wondering if the sertraline is giving me gastroparesis. But.....what seemed to really help was finding out I had sleep apnea and have been using a cpap machine at night.

I think alot of women develop sleep apnea during perimenopause. I think alot of our muscles get weak during that time.....which affects our esophaguses and our soft palates and that can lead to obstructive sleep disorders.
Do you snore? When we are sleep deprived, we can develop all sorts of physical problems. So you might want to see a sleep doctor. The sleep tests are a pain in the butt. Some places are going to home-testing, which makes alot of sense.

I mean no disrespect, but GPs just can't know everything. Have you seen any specialists, or has your GP handled everything?

Are your periods still regular?

I sympathize and empathize with you! Its horrible to feel so awful, yet no doctor or test ever finds anything wrong. I finally got to the point where, even if I felt like I was dying, there was some comfort in knowing all these tests were normal. But that usually only lasts about 2 years, and I start thinking something is wrong again.
Another thing I experienced with perimenopause was always feeling like whatever symptom I had, it was terminal. As I slowly made my way through perimenopause, I started accepting that if I was freaking out over some symptom, it meant my hormones were fluctuating. Although........I would still freak out! haha

I would encourage you to see a good Internal Medicine doctor. If you do take an antidepressant, they have their own set of problems, which, at first, can make you a little crazier. Just start out real slow with them.
Good luck to you!

New Member

Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 12/12/2010 1:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi kari,

I can really sympathyze with you. 50 year old male, athlete, walk 20 plus miles a week.

3 months ago, meltdown, short breath, PVC"S, fatigue, legs went out from under me.

Heart/pulmonary/thyroid/adrenal/gallstone tests.

Now theyre starting to look at neurology and especially VIRAL INFECTIONS.

If you will permit me, can I give you a tiny bit of advice:

1. quit smoking at all cost
2. eat a healthy, protein, veggie diet. Ok these are the basics

3. Get yourself to a diagnostician (think "HOUSE") rather than just specialists who will look for your PROBLEM not your SYMPTOMS

4. klonopin has really helped me to "function" on a daily basis. You might consider it, its a bit of a miracle drug and it doesnt give you a buzz.

5. Its possible you have more than ONE problem, so do a lot of research.

6. There are hosts of viral infections and immunological issues going on today, that medicine doesnt know enough about. Research them at "diagnose-me".

7. get into a support group

8. Be careful of imputting "symptoms" into search engines. You will only scare yourself. Dont forget that doctors have ruled out lots of BAD things. Thats GOOD.

9. It takes time. Rely on your core community and family and friends.

10. Dont forget that panic attacks are PHYSICALLY caused. Dont buy the bullcrap that you have some kind of "mental problem". This is doctor speak for "i have no idea what small problem you have that I cant find, and i dont have the time or money to find it right now"

11. Panic attacks are caused by glandular and neurological issues, and on the cellular level, AGE. There is more evidence about emerging viral infections of all kinds that are nasty as hell and cause the type of symptoms you have. As we get between 40 and 50 our bodies stop regenerating on the cellular level. You may wish to consider participation in thyroid saliva tests, adrenal tests, or even hormanal replacement things that restore youthful hormones with groups like this:

this is life extension magazine. They can cheaply tell you whats happening on a glandular level regarding hormones that make you feel youthful

12. Once youre ready for some "heavy" reading" and feel stronger, start investing some of the new viral infections out there. Most of them GET BETTER AFTER TIME. Others are life time but can be MANAGED. The key is information.

Read this when youre in a good frame of mind,

13. If you need to talk to someone, email me and i'll try to support you, or my wife will try to support you. We are both bible students, and we like to love and help people who are struggling. I am making plans to become a hospital chaplain.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 395
   Posted 12/13/2010 12:30 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with the peri-menopause theory here. I have been going through similar symptoms and they have just gotten progressively worse as I know I am peri(48)menopausal. My symptoms are like yours but the anxiety has reached a high note as well and the days that I actually feel well are few and far between. I have also had many tests done that show nothing at all and I know it isn't all in our heads so I totally believe that it is a peri issue.
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