new member - 7 year search for answers

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hiatari
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/29/2012 8:08 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all,
 
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.

WJF
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 273
   Posted 4/29/2012 9:00 AM (GMT -6)   
hi there,

you have posted quite many details, enough for me to give a best guess what could have happened inside your body.

I would say, try not to be pregnant for the moment until you have a better control of your reflux. Pregnancy will aggravate the symptoms.

I discovered that a strict low-carb diet allows me to stop the ranitidine without having any symptoms

It means you are having poor metabolism of carbohydrates. In layman terms, the carbohydrates in your food do not get digested fully, so when it goes into your intestine, the bacteria in your intestine feed on your undigested carbs and produce gases.

You can ask for a detail blood test. The test should reveal if your liver and pancreas are functioning correctly. If they are, the problem is probably in your stomach.

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

You have a weak stomach that is easily distended. It is not digesting the food as a normal stomach should be. When it is distented, your LES (the sphincter muscle above your stomach) automatically relaxes in a mechanism called tLESR (transient LES relaxation) - thus the painful reflux burps. ACV helps because it contains a mild acid and some digestive enzymes to help digestion. If it helps, do drink a tbsp of ACV + a tbsp of honey + a small cup of water AFTER your meals.

You might have more tLESRs than normal people. There is a drug that is being researched which will prevent this. But I expect It can only be available in 5~10 years time.

Are you able to split meals? Instead of taking 3 meals a day. Try split it up into 3 medium smeals and 2 small meals in the morning and afternoon. It will help! Chewing longer also helps to metabolize carbs.

Do mention this to your doctor, he will be able to do some tests to see if you have a weak stomach. And there are drugs can help you, called prokinetic agents - e.g. motilium / domperidone

Be assured that your condition is not severe. With a more experienced way of managing it, you can live a life without pills, and possibly you can enjoy some "prohibited" food once in a while.

Do seek medical help. And post back the test results and what the doctor says.

Post Edited (WJF) : 4/29/2012 8:32:53 AM (GMT-6)


dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/29/2012 9:05 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi hiatari,
Welcome to Healing Well!  Don't apologize for posting here...this forum exists for people like you!  Glad you've joined us.  You're definitely in the right place.  You're not the only one to get down because you're dealing with a chronic health issue.  It's a common feeling.
 
First, don't get depressed or worried.  Those two things will do absolutely nothing ot move you in the direction of improvement.  Actually they are capable of creating even worse GI symptoms, so they're definitely counter-productive.
 
Above all else, you need to seek medical help from someone who will do more than just give you a script for Zantac.  I don't know why you were sent away from a barium swallow, but honestly, it's usually the first test done when a medical professional is looking for answers.  It's a very non-invasive test and can see if you've got a hiatal hernia, which is often the culprit.  It can also identify reflux, but only sometimes.  Very often people who have reflux can have it missed with a barium swallow, but it's a good start.
 
Since you've suffered with this for so long, and are harboring fears of damage, it is time to get your primary care doc to refer you to a good GI doc.  While many here work very hard to avoid taking medication to alleviate symtoms, many find medication the best option for their lifestyle. 
 
If you want to be able to eat a more typical diet (even vegetarian) you might find medication to be the best option.  Some stress over the side effects and worry about long term consequences, but these drugs have been out a very long time and have been closely watched by researchers.  Are there risks?  Of course.  There are risks with ever medication.
 
St. Thomas Aquinas' quote might be appropriate here.  My asthma doctor has often quoted it when we discuss the risks of medications I need to take to keep my asthma in control.

“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship,

he would keep it in port forever”

Sometimes we need to weight the odds and do a cost-benefit analysis.  Whether or not to take medication is a decision we each need to make ourselves.

 
You're right.  If you exercise and stay in shape, and watch your diet consistently, you're don't fit the typical at-risk person.  Still, there are many people who post here who are athletes, in great shape, and eat extremely healthy diets.  Unfortunately that doesn't guarantee that someone won't have reflux.
 
As far as pregnancy goes, I'm not sure how you will handle that.  Whatever GI doc you see, in conjunction with your OB-Gyn, will help you through that conundrum.   I will say that the first time I had heartburn that I was aware of was when I was pregnant. Talk about popping Tums!
 
Go see a GI doc.  You can get to the bottom of all this and get yourself on the road to an improved quality of life.
 
Again, glad you've joined us!
Best wshes,
Denise
Words of wisdom by Eckhart Tolle:
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose”

“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

Post Edited (dencha) : 4/29/2012 8:17:09 AM (GMT-6)


hiatari
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/29/2012 5:40 PM (GMT -6)   
WJF and dencha, thank you for your replies and advice. I do think the root of my problem is poor digestion of carbs. If I eat nothing but plain white rice all day, I get terrible heartburn, but if I eat only eggs, fish, and leafy vegetables, I don't get any at all. Yes, I have noticed that the acv helps only if I take it after I eat a meal, not before.

I just wonder, why do people get this disease? What's the root cause? Why did my stomach suddenly stop being able to digest carbs?

I am a little down about my condition, but most of the time I have just tried to pretend it doesn't exist, and that's why I haven't seen a doctor in so long.

There is something I didn't mention in my first post. For as far back into my childhood as I can remember, I have always had post-nasal drip and chronic throat clearing/coughing. The back of my tongue has always been white. I do wonder if I had silent reflux for virtually all my life, even before I started having my current symptoms.

dencha
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 4/29/2012 7:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi hiatari,
Those symptoms certainly be related to silent reflux and LPR.  My silent reflux created very serious asthma, which didn't subside until I had reflux surgery 3 years ago (Nissen fundoplication and hiatal hernia repair).
Good luck with your quest for answers!
Denise

WJF
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 273
   Posted 4/30/2012 8:23 PM (GMT -6)   
hiatari said...

I just wonder, why do people get this disease? What's the root cause? Why did my stomach suddenly stop being able to digest carbs?


I have been constantly pondering over these questions after I have been diagnosed with this disease. I have a thread dedicated to the discussion - The various causes of GERD and the treatment

Your condition and mine are very similar. That's why i know some of the things that may help you - ACV, probiotics, digestive enzymes as they have helped me. All these are not going to treat the root cause. I am pushing my doctor to do some tests in future, including the pancreas panel blood test to pinpoint the cause.

fireworks
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 178
   Posted 5/1/2012 1:07 AM (GMT -6)   
First, eliminate stress.. In TCM, stress is directly causing stomach, spleen n liver problems. GERD is usually experienced by nervous ppl/worryers.
 
I am a GERD sufferer too. I dont like to keep taking western medication because i believed it only relieves symptons, not cure it. And it will also affect your immunity in the long run, your body will depend on.
 
Right now, im using TCM. I heard of many people being cured by TCM including my friends and my aunt. TCM is totally natural and drug free.. But you won't see immediate results, it may take weeks or months. And also, lifestyle changes. I rarely exercise and am overweight but now im exercising regularly and eating more veges! Meat is acidic. Make your body alkaline so you wont fall sick so often. And be careful of what makes your stomach sensitve now. I do read up abit on TCM and for people who have acidic stomach, you can boil kelp + few slices of ginger.. drink it like a beverage. it can help to alleviate your problem. Dont take porridge, it makes your stomach produce more acid.
 
Hope it helps :)
 

WJF
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 273
   Posted 5/2/2012 9:10 AM (GMT -6)   
hi singapore_dolly,

I am from sg too. Here's a link for you about how TCM has helped me.
Acupuncture is effective in controlling GERD

Please also note that spleen in TCM does not correspond to spleen in western medicine. They mean pancreas instead.

fireworks
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 178
   Posted 5/3/2012 10:31 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi WJF!

Are you cured of GERD already?

WJF
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 273
   Posted 5/4/2012 9:08 AM (GMT -6)   
No. I am still struggling! But various natural treatments have helped.

hiatari
New Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/5/2012 10:22 AM (GMT -6)   
Fireworks, thanks for recommending TCM. I'd certainly be willing to give it a try.

Eliminating stress, really? I'd have to win the lottery, quit my job and move to a tropical paradise in order for that to happen. cool But seriously, I did read recently about a trial study that found that daily meditation and belly breathing exercises improved gerd symptoms:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/breathing-heartburn-mild-exercises_n_1152156.html

WJF, I am very interested in your story. You say my condition is similar to yours. Do you also have problems mainly with carbohydrates? Do you find that eliminating them helps you? Also, which probiotics and digestive enzymes have you used? How long did it take for them to start taking effect?

fireworks
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 178
   Posted 5/5/2012 11:23 AM (GMT -6)   
hiatari said...
Fireworks, thanks for recommending TCM. I'd certainly be willing to give it a try.

Eliminating stress, really? I'd have to win the lottery, quit my job and move to a tropical paradise in order for that to happen. cool But seriously, I did read recently about a trial study that found that daily meditation and belly breathing exercises improved gerd symptoms:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/breathing-heartburn-mild-exercises_n_1152156.html

WJF, I am very interested in your story. You say my condition is similar to yours. Do you also have problems mainly with carbohydrates? Do you find that eliminating them helps you? Also, which probiotics and digestive enzymes have you used? How long did it take for them to start taking effect?
 
LOL!! I too would love that to happen! For myself, I had GERD and throat 'burnt' by the acid reflux. Looks pretty bad burn when the scope goes to my throat. I took the medication for 2 weeks and now im fully on TCM.. I feel better now, except still feeling that 'globus' in my throat.. Always feel like I have phlgem in my throat. :( I changed my diet, i eat less carbo now.. I eat my dinner earlier and my choice of food is more alkaline now..and I started exercising.. I dont know about you, but you may wanna give TCM or acupunture a try.. since you mentioned you had tried various methods..
 

WJF
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 273
   Posted 5/5/2012 7:34 PM (GMT -6)   
hiatari said...
WJF, I am very interested in your story. You say my condition is similar to yours. Do you also have problems mainly with carbohydrates? Do you find that eliminating them helps you? Also, which probiotics and digestive enzymes have you used? How long did it take for them to start taking effect?


Yes. Overeating a large meal with carbs will definitely set off a flare-up episode for me. Unfortunately I cannot eliminate the carbs. I am underweight and according to a dietician, need 1800 kcal / day as my basal metabolic rate. It's hard to maintain that without carbs.

I didn't really try out every brand of probiotics and enzymes to determine the best. Here's what I used:

OptiBac probiotics: for a flat stomach (formerly known as AntiBloat, a UK brand)
Kordel's Mega Acidophilus
Nature's Farm Plant Enzymes (a local brand) - you have to make sure the enzymes include Amylase which is the enzyme critical for carb digestion.

Usually they take effect within 1 week, but don't expect them to eliminate your symptoms completely, they just improve only.

InSoFla
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 4691
   Posted 5/6/2012 11:02 AM (GMT -6)   
hiatari,
 
I used to suffer for years from Gerd, the only things that brought relief are:
Food combining
slippery elm powder concoction after each meal
 
and since implementing these have had NO ISSUES at all with Gerd.
 
As far as diet is concerned, Paleo is the best and healthiest.
 
Good luck.
Rx meds didn't help me. But 4.5 mg LDN +Paleo diet +supplements =REMISSION.Protein shakes w/almond milk,Maca powder,L-Glutamine,D-Ribose,chia seeds.VSL#3,K2,VIt. D3,slippery elm bark powder.For more info,my protocol is the 11th post at this link: http://www.healingwell.com/community/default.aspx?f=38&m=1666318
If you have any questions, you can find my email address at my profile.

yakyak
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/22/2012 4:45 AM (GMT -6)   
fireworks said...
First, eliminate stress.. In TCM, stress is directly causing stomach, spleen n liver problems. GERD is usually experienced by nervous ppl/worryers.
 
I am a GERD sufferer too. I dont like to keep taking western medication because i believed it only relieves symptons, not cure it. And it will also affect your immunity in the long run, your body will depend on.
 
Right now, im using TCM. I heard of many people being cured by TCM including my friends and my aunt. TCM is totally natural and drug free.. But you won't see immediate results, it may take weeks or months. And also, lifestyle changes. I rarely exercise and am overweight but now im exercising regularly and eating more veges! Meat is acidic. Make your body alkaline so you wont fall sick so often. And be careful of what makes your stomach sensitve now. I do read up abit on TCM and for people who have acidic stomach, you can boil kelp + few slices of ginger.. drink it like a beverage. it can help to alleviate your problem. Dont take porridge, it makes your stomach produce more acid.
 
Hope it helps :)
 
 
 
Hi fireworks,
 
I too am suffering from gerd for years and I am looking for a TCM to help me.
Could you let me know which TCM you are visiting would like to give it a try.
BTW I am from Singapore.
 
Thank you.
 

Post Edited (yakyak) : 8/22/2012 3:53:13 AM (GMT-6)


WJF
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 273
   Posted 8/22/2012 8:39 PM (GMT -6)   
yakyak,

I'm from sg too, drop me an email (you can find my email in my profile page). I am following a TCM doc that is good.

yakyak
New Member


Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 8/23/2012 4:08 AM (GMT -6)   
WTJ,
 
Thank you for the reply.
An email has been sent to you hope to hear from you soon.
 
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