I would just like to introduce myself and share my story. I started having frequent, daily heartburn (1-2 times per day) at the age of 22. It just began out of the blue one day. After a couple months of popping Tums and expecting the problem to just go away on its own, I finally went to my doctor. She was completely stumped and said I had none of the risk factors for gerd. I'd always had a BMI of 20-21, never been overweight, never smoked, drank alcohol only in moderation, got plenty of exercise, always ate dinner before 7 p.m., and in fact was a vegetarian--lots of green veggies, whole grains and fruit being the foundation of my diet. She was confident that I was experiencing a short-term problem and told me to keep taking the Tums and avoid caffeine, mint, and chocolate for the time being.
I followed her advice, but the heartburn got worse and the Tums wasn't helping. After a few more weeks of this, I started having difficulty swallowing, which scared the hell out of me. It took me about an hour to slowly force down about half the amount of food I would normally eat for each meal. I went back to my doctor in tears, and she prescribed Zantac and scheduled me for a modified barium swallow test. When I showed up at the hospital to have the test done, however, the techs told me they thought I had been prescribed the wrong test and advised me not to go through with it. After a few more days on the Zantac, my dysphagia resolved and my doctor didn't see the need to prescribe any more tests. As long as I kept taking the ranitidine, the heartburn stayed away and I felt fine.
Fast forward seven years. I am now 29 and still experience heartburn and reflux symptoms several times a day unless I take ranitidine consistently. One 75 mg dose used to be enough, but I have since developed a tolerance for the drug and often have breakthrough symptoms even on 300 mg per day. I hate the thought of being dependent on medication for the rest of my life. There are no more lifestyle modifications I could possibly make. I am already extremely active, walking an average of 12,000 steps or more a day, and I have a physically demanding job that keeps me constantly on my feet. I have added fish to my diet, but still don't eat red meat or chicken. I cook most of my own meals, and I eat fast food only a handful of times per year. I never drink soda, simply because I have never liked carbonated drinks. Many people I know say I have the healthiest diet they've ever seen. If only they knew how horrible my "healthy" diet actually makes me feel without medication!
Without ranitidine, my reflux is really not so bad that it disrupts my daily life, but what really bothers me is that it is ever-present. I wake up feeling fine, but things go downhill after I eat anything. Even when I'm not having full-blown heartburn, I often get feelings of gas being trapped in my stomach, followed by painful reflux burps, and a general slight burning sensation in my throat a good deal of the time. I am a daytime refluxer, with my worst symptoms usually occuring an hour or so after lunch and sometimes also after breakfast or dinner. It is aggravated by exercise. A brisk walk after a meal will nearly always bring the heartburn on. For some reason, I never have symptoms at night, unless I drink too much alcohol.
I have tried several elimination diets over the years to try to find my trigger foods. about two months ago, I discovered that a strict low-carb diet allows me to stop the ranitidine without having any symptoms, but it's so restrictive that I can never adhere to it for more than a few days at a time, and the thought of never eating any grains, potatoes, or even just moderately starchy fruits and veggies like bananas or pumpkin again fills me with despair. Such a diet would completely zap my social life and consume all my free time with food preparation and meal planning. I just don't think I can do it. It would also put a tremendous burden on my family.
I have tried DGL, slippery elm, apple cider vinegar, betaine HCL, D-limonene, and expensive probiotics, all with unsatisfying results. Acv does help a little, but the relief is very short-lived.
I am embarrassed that I haven't sought any medical treatment for my heartburn since my doctor prescribed Zantac all those years ago. I'm worried that I may have caused permanent damage by trying to deal with this on my own for so long. It also depresses me to realize that I have suffered with this for most of my adult life. My husband and I want to have children, but I am scared of what pregnancy will do to my gerd. I have definitely been living in denial of my condition; very few people other than my husband and my mother know about it. Nearly every morning, I wake up hoping that the pain and burning will just never come back, but it always does. I've finally decided that enough is enough and I need to seek a doctor's advice. I'm planning to go this week.
I know that others on this forum are in much worse shape than I am, so I'm really sorry to complain like this. I'm just looking for support and advice. Thanks for reading.