I will share my experience so that it can give some idea to the new sufferers of Acid Reflux how it feels, how it is developed in my case and what triggers it and what to expect...sorry for the lengthily post but I wanted to give all the details..
I am a 33 y/o male. Generally I am (was) very healthy. I was also a bit overweight (around 10kg more than I was supposed to be for my height).
Let me start...Around 5 years ago, I had some swallowing problem and went to my local GP. He has referred me to a throat specialist who looked at my throat and said my swallowing reflexes are perfectly fine and gave me some nose spray to use. I used the spray and felt good afterwards...He never mentioned the possibility of acid reflux or GERD.
In the last 5 years, I have woken up in the middle of the night several times and jumped from the bed because my throat was full of liquid and I was basically chocking. This happened 3 or 4 times over 5 years period. I have a very busy life with my work and I quickly forgot about it and did nothing for it.
I think it is also important to admit that, I had number of work related issues from October 2012 until February 2013 and I had an extremely stressful few months before this all happened.
On Sunday 24th March (2013), me and my fiancé had a normal size dinner (please note we have eaten at the couch in front of TV like we always do - I would have learned very soon that this is a big mistake - we ate our dinners around 8pm and then around 10pm I almost always had a small snack such as cheese ). We have
finished the dinner and around 30 min later, I felt extremely bad. Like I have never felt before. My chest was completely pressurised, I thought I was probably having a minor heart attack (now I know that this is a common
indigestion symptom - I didn't have a clue at the time). My fiancé is very health and health conscious person and she kind of forced me to go to A&E at the nearest hospital. I have to admit, I was feeling a little better when we have arrived to the hospital but still not great. The doctor checked me asked many questions such as if I am suffering from GERD (I didn't have a clue what that meant), extreme coughing (I didn't have it at the time) and he did a quick ECG scan and everything looked normal. He advised me that he is pretty sure it is a indigestion problem and told me to buy myself a Gaviscon (I have only seen some ads for this on TV but didn't know what exactly it was for)
We went back home and on the way we went to the supermarket and bought the OTC Gaviscon and went back home. When we come back home, I was still not perfect but help of the gaviscon I fell asleep. (At this stage my bed was just normal, straight bed!)
The next morning I felt much better and after the meals I took 1 spoon (around 5ml) Gaviscon after the meals as the doctor suggested. Felt a little bit uneasiness around the stomach area but was all manageable. In the following week we went out twice to local restaurants (I am still not recognising the signals of my body and continue my normal lifestyle at this stage) but in one of the restaurants, I ordered stake and chips and after eating half of the meal, I start to develop uneasiness and some swallowing problems (feels like there is a mucus in your throat and sometime there is something stuck in your throat). My gaviscon wasn't with me so we have left the restaurant and rushed back home. I felt extremely uneasy again (especially with my throat and having
have to cough and try to take the excessive mucus but it wasn't there!). I couldn't sleep until around 1am but then I started to feel a little better and fell asleep.
Following day, I went to my local GP and he gave me 20mg Omeprazole tablets for acid reflux problem. For people reading about Omeprazole for the first time, it is a type of Proton Pump Inhibitor (in short these medicines are called PPIs - they basically help stomach to limit acid production).
The next day (Friday 5th April), I woke up feeling pretty good and I took my 20mg Omeprazole in the morning. I was feeling very well and I decided to take up my brother's offer of meeting over the weekend to celebrate his birthday on Saturday. I drove around 3 hours and arrived at my brother's place. I was still feeling perfectly fine. His gf prepared some nice food (salad, pilav rice, mince meat, etc. and of course some chocolate cakes for desert. I have eaten (a bit smaller than the normal size thinking that my Acid should be fine if I eat
less) and felt really OK afterwards. Because I forgot to take my Gaviscon with me, I didn't take any Gaviscon and I didn't have the feeling I should take my Gaviscon. We watched a movie that night and went to bed.
The next morning, I felt perfectly OK again. We woke up a little late and my brother said let's not have breakfast but instead go to a Chinese Buffet instead (yes, the ones that you can eat as much as you can). I took my medicine (20 mg Omeprazole) before we left. On the way to the Chinese buffet, I felt a little sick in the car but as soon as I stand up to go to the restaurant I felt better. I had only 1 full plate of food with water (normally I always drink diet coke but this time just still water to look after my stomach. After the Chinese, we came back home (still feeling good no problem). I had one lager beer with my brother and then we went out to a bar with his friends to celebrate his birthday. I had one more beer in the bar then didn't want to mix alcohol and Omeprazole so I asked for water. They were only serving carbonated water (BIG MISTAKE! I will learn later) so I have probably drank around 4 or 5 small glasses of carbonated water throughout the night. We have finished for
the night and on the way back everyone went to the local Kebab shop - at this time we were all hungry (and I shared one kebab with my brother - another big mistake!). We came back home and went to bed (still feeling good - no problem).
I woke up the next day (Sunday 7th April) and again took my 20mg Omeprazole and had a very rich breakfast (including: 2 different cheeses, some polish sausage, tomatoes, tea, etc.). I also had one cup of coffee with my brother before I left for home.
3 hours later I arrived my house (no problem on the road, felt very good). My fiancé has prepared a lasagne dish. Because I was more careful with what I was eating, I had a little bit of a salad and very small portion of lasagne.
This was the last straw for my body!
Around an hour after lasagne, I felt terrible. I jumped from where I was sitting and ran to the kitchen to get some water. I felt like choking again. It continued with extreme coughing and I had to have a pint of water in my hand and sip from it every 10 seconds or so to keep my throat open (at least I felt like that). After 15 min or so, the fealing eased a little and I was still feeling terrible. I took some Gaviscon straight away but it didn't help much. I felt terrible bloating on my stomach and I had to burp quite a few times every minutes (especially after drinking the water). My fiancé pushed me to go to the Emergency again but I refused. All I could do was walking around the house and waiting for this horrible feeling to pass away. Unfortunately it didn't. I couldn't sit down at all and I continued to walk until around 4am. I didn't know what to do so we called an emergency number just to ask if there is anything we can do. They advised that it should be digestion problem and the doctor has already seen me a few days ago so they suggested to have some more Gaviscon! I did, but it didn't help much at all. I managed to sleep around 1am.
The next day (Monday 8th April) I was still feeling terrible when I woke up. I called my GP straight away. My doctor gave me an appointment for the next day and he told me to keep up the 20mg Omeprazole medicine and he told me that it taked at least 3-4 days for the medicine to work so I need to be patient.
Towards afternoon, I felt just a little bit better so at least I could sit on the couch - of course upright position only!). I was still having a lot of water to ease the throat (my throat at this stage was on spasm time to time due to acid touching it). In the evening my symptoms became much worse again so we went to the emergency around 9pm. Emergency doctor has seen me and advised me that some PPI medicine are not working for some people so one option is to change the medication and another option is to take at least around 40mg to try
that. We came back home, at least I knew that this wasn't going to kill me that night. Psychologically I felt better to see the doctor. I was still standing up in the house, going from room to room, feeling bloated, very uneasy and drinking my water all the time....
Around 5am I could finally sat down on the couch again and I fell asleep for 1:30hrs and woke up with uneasiness at 6:30am on (Tuesday 9th April). I haven't slept almost at all for two days and I was feeling tired and very down. I couldn't eat a thing since Sunday night but I wasn't hungry at all. At 9am, we went to my GP and he raised the dosage to 40mg. (he told me to take 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening). I was still feeling so bad, he told me that it will pass, I am a young man so my body should fix itself (not sure how true his
We came back home, and in the afternoon again it felt easier. I could sit down again, being so tired, I wanted to sleep a little but I couldn't. Towards late afternoon, I started to feel worse again, took my 20mg Omeprazole) but it didn't help much at all. I was feeling really bad again with all the typical acid reflux symptoms. I couldn't sleep at all. I was walking around and sometime sit down on the chair or couch (if I could for more than 5 min...) I felt acid burning my nose time to time and my ears was also kind of blocked..
I decided that my GP wasn't going to be helping me much as his advice didn't really work well so far, my fiancé started to look for a GERD specialist and found number of specialist in our area.She called them all on Wednesday morning (1oth April) and one of them could see us the next day at 3:30pm. This made me feel very happy, finally I was going to go to someone who understands my sympthoms and potentially could help me. On Wednesday, I felt a little better throughout the day but nowhere near recovered. After days of not eating, I read that apples are really good for me as a GERD sufferer and I managed to eat 1 apple and took Gaviscon afterwards. It didn't really disturb me so I finally found something maybe I could eat. In the late afternoon my fiancé cooked some very watery lentil soup (supposed to be really good for GERD again) and it worked very well. I felt a little uneasy
afterwards but it was manageable. I also read that drinking too much water is not good because it makes the acid to climb all the way from stomach to the throat (it makes a foamy substance with acid). so I limited my water drinking to minimum (but still needed to take sips when I feel my throat is tight). I managed to sleep 6.5 hours on Wednesday night. This was great. I felt good.
Yesterday (11th April), I woke up quite OK (not perfect). I had one banana and one apple in the morning and felt OK at first but suffered a little bit toward afternoon. I also had some more lentil soup (very small portion) which was good.
We went to the GERD Consultant yesterday at 3:30pm. He was a very pleasant doctor and understood exactly what I am going through. He basically said that we need to find the cause of the problem (the GERD is the symptom). So he suggested I should go for endoscopy (where they put a little tube camera from your mouth to your stomach and check for problems). He said that there might be number of problems causing this from lifestyle to bacteria, in some cases ulcers in the stomach or hernia, etc. I will go through the endoscopy in the next 2-4 weeks when the referral arrives to my GP.
He has also doubled the dosage of Omeprazole to 80mg. I discussed the sideaffects of the medicine with the doctor and found out that some people are getting up to 160mg a day and some baby's around 40-80mg. He also told me to take 300mg of Ranitidine (it is called Zantac in the US - it is basically a H2 receptor which inhibits stomach acid production). He told me to use this only if I feel bad again. He also told me to have a food diary which I was doing for sometime anyway. For sleeping, he wanted me to raise my bed so hat my stomach fluids do not travel to my mouth during the night.
We left the doctor around 4:30pm and I took my 40mg Omeprazole at around 5:30pm so that I can eat something around 6:30pm (you need to wait at least an hour after taking the medicine). After some more light food I had some Gaviscon and felt really good. Towards bed time, we have raised the bed and just before going to bed I had 2 spoonfulls of Gaviscon (10ml) and I slept like a baby.
This morning I woke up with very minor cough (but I am also having some cold at the same time, the nose is blocked which doesn't really help). I took 40mg Omeprazole in the morning and had banana and apples again (easy start to the day). Felt really good, no problem. I have just also had some lunch around 30 min ago (green salad and small lentil soup) - I am still feeling very good.
I am hoping to continue my diary for at least around a month so that I hope it can help some other sufferers like me. Don't forget you are not alone!
So far I have learned the following:
- GERD / Acid Reflux can become a problem very fast! Unexpectedly!
- First few days are very scary because you don't know what you are going through
- Reading about GERD and Acid Reflux definitely was good, I am learning what I am dealing with!
- Apples, banana, salad and lentil soup are all alkaline forming food and can be digested easily.
- If you think you have GERD go to a specialist as soon as possible
- Omeprazole + Gaviscon combination is finally proving effective for me. A little patience is needed for the medicine to start working. In my condtion I needed the higher dose from the beginning.
- GERD is manageable for me. I need to try and test different combination of foods and drinks to see what triggers it.
- I am not alone, there are many other sufferers and tons of good information (and some rubbish) online.