I have had GERD for nearly 10 years and have managed it with Prevacid, Omeprazole, and more recently Zegerid. In addition I have learned
* to refrain from eating late in the evening,
* to watch my weight,
* eschew deep fried foods,
* avoid excessive alcohol and chocolate late at night, and
* to sleep on a triangular pillow that lets me rest at a slight angle.
When I do all these things, I can avoid the awful reflux attacks that wake me up coughing in the middle of the night.
The condition has worsened a bit over the years, but controlling my weight has had a large impact. I'm not sure whether I've stabilized the condition or not, but until recently it was managable.
But since January I have experienced a remarkable shortness of breath whenever I exercise. Even though I am (as my moniker indicates0 an avid hiker often covering 10-15 miles in an afternoon, I can barely climb the short hill outside my house without having to stop because my chest is aching so intensely it feels like it's burning. If I stop for a few minutes, I can then resume the climb. Cold and wet weather exacerbate the condition, and trying to "power through" the attacks doesn't work. After longer hikes I usually feel worse, not better.
Until recently, I thought that this might be asthma, but I've never had any allergies or asthma before. Yes, I know you can get it when you're older (I'm 59), but I don't have the other symptoms usually associated with asthma like mucus, coughing or sever constriction of breathing. Our Spring in Oregon has been particulary bad for asthma sufferers, so I'm not counting it out as a possibility - but it just doesn't feel like the right diagmonsis.
Recently, I've been trying to correlate my behavior with the sudden onset of my breathing issues and it occurred to me that during this time I had done two things differently:
* it switched from Omeprazole to Zegerid
* I didn't sleep on my elevated pillow.
Is it possible that, despite not waking to acid reflux attacks, I was actually spilling acid/reflux into my lungs and deteriorating their oxygen-absorption capacity? It often feels like I've got a "walking pneumonia" - no dramatic distress, just a very shallow breathing capacity that leaves me oxygen starved and my chest aching! Is there any know correlation between GERD and shortness of breath.
I recently switched back to sleeping on the elevated pad and it "seems" as if I'm regaining some breathing capacity - but it's really too soon to tell.
Any words of experience, advice, etc. ?
- Forest Hiker