I know that GERD is different yet similar for everyone. I have not yet found any stories that are exactly like mine although some are similar. The awareness of my GERD began one night while lying on the couch almost three years ago when suddenly I swallowed and felt this intense pain on the left side of my throat near my voicebox. Swallowing and talking were agonizing and the pain radiated through my jaw and up to my temple. This lasted for about 45 minutes until a mild hiccup released it. The muscles around the area were sore for several days after. About two weeks after this occurred a general soreness began on the left side of my throat. I went to an ENT and he said I had a spasm and I had a lot of "cobblestone" irritation in my throat indicative of acid reflux. This was a surprise because I never had any of the classic heartburn symptoms. However, I had been having a lot of trouble keeping my voice clear (constantly clearing my throat) for two years prior. There was never any pain-just the annoyance. I had the tests-upper endoscopy, barrium swallow, PH probe. Barrium swallow showed nothing other than limited motility in my lower esophagus. The PH probe did indicate elevated acid levels and the endoscopies showed some mild esophagitis and poor LES function. So I am confident the diagnosis is correct. I even had my gall bladder removed.
My chief complaint today is still the left side of my throat. I have not been able to talk without pain since the whole thing started. Sometimes it isn't too noticeable and other times it hurts enough the make me mispronounce words or refuse to talk. The tissue feels a bit stiff for lack of a better way to describe it. I don't have the burning sensation that a lot of people feel. It's more so a tight feeling in the muscle system. When it acts up, if I squeeze my throat just below the voice box, it will make me cough as the tissue is sensitive. The right side of my throat is always fine. I suspect that the damage caused by the spasm may not have ever had the chance to heal completely because the reflux is too consistent. So I wonder if other people have a similar issue. In case you're curious, the spasm happened when I was 29.
The PPI's do help keep my voice clear- I take 1 Prevacid a day now-but they have little effect on the pain. I have taken 1, 2 and 3 PPI's a day to see if it would help. I have a suspicion that, at least with me, the PPI's lose a lot their effectiveness after taking them for about three weeks. I have found that it helps to go off of them for two weeks when I don't think they're helping anymore. Has anyone else suspected this?
Also, my reflux is worse when my stomach is empty. I seem to feel the best immediately after a meal. Sleeping with the head of my bed elevated never helped. I also used a wedge pillow to no avail. I don't seem to reflux while I sleep though on rare occasions I'll wake up with those painful esophageal spasms that feel like a heart attack. I know I am lucky that I can sleep well and I really feel bad for those of you that sleep poorly night after night. But my turn comes when I wake up knowing I will go to work and do a lot of talking and I never know how painful it will be, but I know it probably won't be pleasant.
I do intend to try Northern Joe's water remedy. Wouldn't it be cool if it worked? I always drink filtered water but if it doesn't take out the chlorine, there may be something to it. I don't drink coffee or alcohol nor do I smoke and soda is limited to once per week so there is not a lot of contributors from my diet that will cause reflux.
I do have an appointment with a doctor later this month to pursue a Hill Repair surgery. I have discussed this with him before. Not something I want to do but if it gives me a chance to enjoy talking again, I will take the risk. I have done a lot of reading on laryngopharengeal reflux (reflux the affects the throat) and studies show that those symptoms are difficult to erradicate and medicine rarely helps enough. Surgery, however has helped a lot of people.
I didn't expect to write this much so I congratulate you if you made it to the end. Thanks for reading and any feedback is welcome.