One Month Without Meds, Still Doing Well

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miketx
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 46
   Posted 7/9/2011 9:22 PM (GMT -6)   
My GI took me off all meds one month ago and I'm still doing well. I posted here quite a bit during my reflux flare-up earlier this year. I was troubled by the fact that everyone on the boards had a bad story and decided that if my GERD/LPR symptoms ever improved, I'd be sure to share a positive story. So here it is.

I first experienced GERD/LPR symptoms in December '10. My symptoms ranged from occasional heartburn to regurgitation to sore throat to hoarse voice to raw throat and mouth to a bad taste in my mouth (the bad taste was my most common symptom early on). In hindsight, the "trigger" was almost certainly stress-related; my wife had just had a baby, lots of family was coming and going, and I wasn't getting any sleep. In addition, I was drinking a lot more coffee and alcohol than I would typically drink.

My PCP thought that acid reflux was the culprit but wasn't sure. I'm young (32 -- 33 now), generally healthy/not overweight, and have a fairly healthy lifestyle. But the symptoms all pointed to GERD/LPR, so the doctor put me on Dexilant, a 24-hour, time-released PPI. When Dexilant didn't help, the PCP referred me to a GI. The GI had me continue Dexilant and scheduled me for an upper endoscopy. The endoscopy revealed no problems -- esophagus looked fine and the doctor saw no hiatal hernia. He said my LES may have been a little bit loose, but he couldn't measure my LES strength with the scope alone. I stayed on Dexilant from January '11 through March '11.

By April, my symptoms were less frequent and less severe. I'd go a few days with next to no symptoms, followed by a few days of mild to moderate symptoms. I saw the GI in early April and, since things were looking somewhat better, he moved me to Zantac 300.

I took Zantac 300 for April and May. During that time, my symptoms again improved but did not completely go away. Also, by that time, I had finally found a medication that treated my symptoms: Gaviscon Advance liquid. I have to mail order the stuff from the UK, but it worked wonders for the symptoms I would occasionally have.

At my June GI appointment, the doctor told me to stop Zantac and take the Gaviscon Advance as needed. He said that he doesn't think I have bad reflux any longer. He also said that everyone has some reflux, mine is probably worse than average, but, because I went through a bad spell, I'm probably much more aware of my reflux than are most people.

So I stopped taking Zantac. Much to my surprise, my symptoms did not increase, but actually seem to have decreased. I've experienced very mild heartburn three times in the past month. When that happens, I just take the Gaviscon Advance. My mouth and throat have been fine.

I wish I could explain what caused my improvement. I have a few hunches but ultimately don't know for sure.

One factor may be time. Way back in December, my PCP told me that he has a lot of GERD patients who need to go on PPIs for three months or so out of every two to three years. In fact, his initial recommendation was to take Dexilant for three months, cut down to an H2 blocker for two weeks, and then cut out everything. So, there's a good chance that my improvement is due solely or mostly to the passing of time.

As for supplements, I tried everything. Early on I went to a naturalist who gave me a series of Chinese herbs. None of that seemed to make a difference. I took enzymes, probiotics, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, L-glutamine, fish oil, multivitamins, and on and on -- my symptoms did not seem to change at all during the time I was taking those things. Melatonin may have helped, but I was never sure.

The one exception is calcium citrate liquid. Several sources indicated that calcium citrate liquid can strengthen a loose LES. My improvement coincided with when I started taking the calcium citrate liquid, and since my underlying problem was probably a stress-induced loose LES, it would make sense that the calcium citrate would help. I still take the calcium citrate liquid.

Another thing that may have helped is going to the gym. I used to work out a lot (mostly weights), but when the GERD/LPR came on, I hadn't been to the gym in a couple of years. So, I signed up and got a trainer. I explained that I need to be careful with lifting and diet because of my GERD/LPR due to a loose LES. He said that's interesting, because when you lift weights, your body responds by producing growth hormones. Those hormones help to strengthen all of your muscles -- not just the muscles that you target with the weights. He didn't have any LES-specific science, but he said that getting back into a weight routine could very well help strengthen my LES. Also, weight lifting is a great stress reliever. I've been consistently lifting weights four days a week over the past three months or so, and my GERD/LPR has steadily improved over that same time period. Here too, I don't know if my lifestyle changes caused my improvement, but the improvement followed my lifestyle change and I have a sensible theory one why one could cause the other. Take it for what it's worth. (As an aside, I realize that every doctor's recommendation to GERD patients is to avoid lifting weights, as weight lifting puts pressure on the LES. For all I know, my improvement would have been 100% -- but is instead only ~95% -- but-for my weight lifting. My hunch, however, is that the weight lifting helped by reducing stress and possibly strengthening my LES.)

As for diet, I found that Dr. Koufman's recommendations really helped when I was experiencing frequent symptoms. I'm not convinced by Dr. Koufman's pepsin theory, but the diet itself helped me keep my symptoms under control. Note that I don't think the diet helped to strengthen my LES, but only that it helped to control my symptoms. I also tried the trendy alkaline diet based on an Internet recommendation, but that diet did not help in my case.

Today, I eat pretty much whatever I want -- which happens to be very healthy. I eat a lot of eggs, chicken, salmon, rice, oatmeal, and fresh vegetables. Over 95% of the liquid I drink is water. The rest is milk and an occasional glass of tea. No soda. I stray from that diet without trouble on special occasions. If I'm out to a social breakfast, I'll have a cup of coffee. If I'm on a date, I'll have a glass of wine. If I'm traveling and can't control what's served, and I just eat what's in front of me, but I keep the portions small with some things (e.g., beef). I haven't yet had a problem with that approach.

Like I mentioned above, I still have occasional symptoms, and I'm sure I'll end up back on a PPI at some point or points in my future. I just hope that's later rather than sooner. But, for now, I am basically well.

Post Edited (miketx) : 7/9/2011 8:29:26 PM (GMT-6)


Nickles
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 296
   Posted 7/9/2011 11:54 PM (GMT -6)   
Glad you are better....

Questions can you give more insight on "calcium citrate liquid"

What is it?

Where do you get it?

Is it safe, is it a vitamin and who told you about this specific thing?

Thanks and once again I am so happy for you

Dave

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/10/2011 11:06 AM (GMT -6)   
It is good to read you are doing well off of PPI meds.  I hope this continues for you and thank you for sharing your success with all of the members.
 
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

miketx
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 46
   Posted 7/10/2011 12:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Nickles,

Calcium citrate liquid is a type of calcium supplement. I've read that calcium can help to strengthen a loose LES. However, most forms of calcium require stomach acid to digest; if you're on medication that reduces stomach acid, then you may not get any benefit from most forms of calcium. Calcium citrate is different in that the body can digest/absorb it without stomach acid.

I buy it at Whole Foods. I've also seen it at a local higher-end grocery store and a pharmacy.

It is safe as far as I know. The one I take is mixed with magnesium. The nutrition person at the health food store told me that calcium and magnesium are sold mixed like that because you need to keep them in balance. I'm not sure why that is, but there may be a problem with taking too much calcium on its own. Also, the magnesium in the drink acts as a laxative, so there can be undesired -- but relatively harmless -- side effects if you drink too much!

I learned about calcium citrate through Internet searches. Just search for "calcium citrate les" or something like that and spend a few minutes reading the results.

sewfun
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 146
   Posted 7/10/2011 1:20 PM (GMT -6)   
miketx,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It does give me hope. Not that I've given up, but it is nice to read that someone's GERD/LPR improved significantly.

It is interesting about the weight training, because I read somewhere else about gastroparesis getting better after a person began weight lifting. I do some now, could probably step it up a bit though. yeah I still have to be careful what I do, because it can cause a silent reflux for me.

Again, thanks for taking the time to stop back by.turn

Sewfun

sk55
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 225
   Posted 7/10/2011 5:44 PM (GMT -6)   
hi mike,

can you describe your weight training program more?

do you bench press, squat, run on treadmill?

any gym tips would be greatly appreciated.

i am suffering from lpr as well and also frequent the gym. But i basically i only stick to exercises that keep my upper body vertical.

I would loved to run, but i am too scared to get throat symptoms to try.

In gerneral, i think the gym has been great stress relief and for positive mental attitude while suffering from LPR.


Sometimes i feel some minor throat issues then i just stop my workout early.


I feel like i am pretty healed as well, some days i will be fine, then once in a while i'll have some minor symptoms which are somewhat depressing.

Jacket923
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 27
   Posted 7/10/2011 6:41 PM (GMT -6)   
Running personally makes my LPR throat feel great. Everyone is different though

miketx
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 46
   Posted 7/11/2011 9:01 AM (GMT -6)   
sk55,

I do five workouts a week:

Chest/tri -- bench press, incline press, bench flys, decline cable flys, tricep extensions, skull crushers, diamond pushups, jackknife crunches (for abs)
Lower -- barbell squats, lunges, back/hamstring extension, hamstring curl, leg press
Back/bi -- one arm lat, two arm lat, seated row, decline cable row, pullover, dumbbell curl, barbell curl, leg lifts (for abs)
Shoulders/arms -- shoulder press, delt raise, barbell upright row, reverse barbell curl, dumbbell curl, skull crushers, dips
Abs -- jackknife crunches, leg lifts, scissor crunches

I was really nervous starting out, especially with the bending exercises (e.g., crunches), horizontal exercises (e.g., bench press) and the heavy, full-body exercises (e.g., squats). But I've been doing this routine for over two months now without any problems. I did a lot of decline bench press and decline situps before the GERD problems started. I doubt I'll ever do a true decline exercise again. The "decline" work I do now is all with cables, so my shoulders never actually go lower than my pelvis.

sk55
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 225
   Posted 7/11/2011 9:47 PM (GMT -6)   
hi miketx,


i like your theory about growth hormone. I think i'll start slowly adding squats back to my training program.

i believe my LPR is too some degree stress induced. It actually started near the end of winter when i was the least active, thus no outlet for stress.



i hope to be off meds like you...
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