In desperate need of help! Can't Reflux be just an episode? Does it HAVE TO BE GERD?

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justscared
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 1/3/2014 9:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I am so scared right now, I would appreciate any help, input or reassurance you might have for me.

I am a 41 yo mother of two young children and generally, I suffer from Health Anxiety. I do not make up symptoms, there's always something real - but every time, I think of the worst possible scenario and I panic so badly I go into a deep depression until the doctors can put my fears to rest with 100% reassurance via testing that clearly show is NOT THE BIG thing.

about a month ago I caught a virus from my children and ended up with bronchitis (I seem to catch it almost every year) and a course of Azythromicin. As the cough was not subsiding, the dr. prescribed 5 days of prednisone. A day or two after this, my dentist prescribed another round of antibiotics (7 days of amoxicilin, every 6 hours) for an infected tooth. Finally, during this time I also took some ibuprofen for general, chronic back pain.

Sometimes during this cocktail of medicines, I started feeling a tiny little bump in my throat, more like a very slight scratch that I could feel mostly when I was swallowing. I brushed it off, having experienced that sensation before, mainly when I would wake up in the morning with more post-nasal drip than usual, from my chronic rhinitis; and then it would go away.

As days went by, I started belching and getting some reflux (feeling the food coming back up). The lump in my throat became more noticeable and I could feel the food sliding down the foodpipe slowly, sometimes even a feeling that a piece was left stuck somewhere in the pipe or that it was sliding too slowly.
Then more belching and reflux, with some sour/bitter juices coming back up.

I had never had such problems before for any significant period of time - maybe very rarely after a more copious meal, but nothing that didn't go away immediately or that I was ever bothered by.

I called my GP and she said that my stomach flora was probably upset from the 2 antibiotic courses and she told me to take some probiotics - and if I didn't feel better to come back in a week.
In the meantime, things got worse, or maybe because I started googling and reading things about GERD, Barret's and the worst one of all (EC); so I frantically asked her for a referal to a gastro doctor.

When I finally went to see him yesterday, I realized I couldn't get the reassurance I was hoping for which I was expecting to sound something along the lines of:
"yeah, it's the medication you took, stay on the probiotics, it will go away".

Instead, he said that I may have had acid reflux for many years without knowing because the esophagus gets used to the acid sensation and that he wanted to do an endoscopy to see what is in there.
I was going to insist on one anyway but it disturbed me to see how quickly he considered one.
When I told him I had post-nasal drip from my chronic rhinitis, he said this too may be related to chronic reflux (and the bronchitis I seem to get about once a year - that too!). I couldn't believe it.

He just seemed to be bent on believing that I have had GERD chronically, without me being aware of it, without heartburn or food coming back up on the pipe, etc.

He also said it might also be an aesophiliac esophagus (never got tested for food allergies), etc.

He did not seem to give much credence to the possibility that this might just be an isolated reflux episode that was triggered by the cocktail of medicines. As usual, Drs. seem to want to defend these prescription drugs as "safe" - "they shouldn't be the culprit" - when there is so much evidence they can cause a lot of damage.

I had never had such problems before, with constant belching and heartburn too - and coincidentally, they surface right during the 2 rounds of antibiotics plus some anti-inflammatories.
I even felt a few of the amoxicilin pills literally burning my food pipe wben I took them with very little water (I know I shouldn't have).

I asked the gastro about any "catastrophic scenario" and he said that for a female my age, this is "very unlikely". Never mind that I never smoked, never drank and consume lots of fruits and raw salads.

I would have preferred the word "impossible" to the catastrophic scenario and perhaps less of a rush to think of GERD, even before the endoscopy - so all in all, I left the office with even more anxiety than when I came in.

Now I wonder: can anyone diagnose GERD only by talking to a patient? He didn't say "you definitely have GERD" but I noticed he did write something in my electronic records for the day I am scheduled to do the endoscopy (something with a code number and GERD dx).
Does this mean he already dx-ed me with GERD just by talking to me??? - or that he wants to do the endoscopy to clarify a possible GERD dx (for insurance company purposes)?

How could I have gone so many years with GERD without the slightest problem? I never felt heartburn and I never even felt raw, acidic, burning throat in the morning either (as in LPR). It is true I would often clear my throat in the morning but that was clearly from the mucous dripping from my nose, not from acid that had splashed up from the stomach during the night. No reflux has EVER woken me up at night - EVER.

By afternoon, I got so panicky that I decided I could not wait 3 more days for the endoscopy - so I ran to the ER, hoping they would be able to do it there. Shockingly enough for a large hospital in a metropolitan area, they did not have a scope available at that hour (supposedly), so they wanted to do a barrium-swallow x ray. I refused because I dread radiation. So they finally let me go home after I signed a "refuse treatment" paper. It was horrible ...and now I continue to be in terrible distress because I can't find an answer and I keep wondering if it would even be remotely possible for them to find something terrible at the endoscopy if I had GERD for so many years like he suggested, and I didn't even know.

Now I am counting the minutes until Monday when I will have the endoscopy. I keep asking myself why this could not just be an episode of reflux that was obviously triggered by the medications - instead of GERD (chronic), which is what my dr. wants to believe, despite this being an isolated situation.

I have been taking some probiotics over the past week but they may have been too weak for me to see any results (15 billion in the morning, 15 in the evening).

I have been about 2 weeks now with these symptoms.

If anybody can help me with any input or reassurance, I would be tremendously grateful, I can answer any question.
Thank you so much.
I pray I can go back to a normal life on Monday - my children have basically given up on me and I can't take any care of them, I am THAT depressed.
Please - kindly help!

1039smooth
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 2063
   Posted 1/3/2014 9:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I didn't quite make it through all this, BUT, I had some tests done when I thought I was having heart issues, but my GP recommended I have a gastro doctor check me out. The endoscopy revealed my issues. It was a stepping stone to get to the bottom of it. It's not necessarily bad.

Hypochondria, as I well know, also doesn't help matters.

gunner4565
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2013
Total Posts : 97
   Posted 1/3/2014 10:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Trust your GI doctor. Show up for the procedure and find out if you have GERD. The doc will be able to tell quickly if you have a problem. As for the medications you get prescribed...Take as few as possible. Your bronchitis may last 3-4 weeks with or without antibiotics. I never took antibiotics unless my cough lasted over 4 weeks and it never did, but came close a few times. Its was always a virus for which antibiotics do no good. Also the prednisone and ibuprofen make my reflux much worse, so they might cause reflux in you also. You sound like you eat healthy, so exercise, relax, and stop depending upon medicines to make you feel better. Too many meds always make me feel worse. I was on 5 prescription medicines and now I am on one after two surgeries to fix the problems I had. I now feel much better.

Gunner
Fifty years with GERD

justscared
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 1/3/2014 10:46 PM (GMT -6)   
gunner4565 said...
Trust your GI doctor. Show up for the procedure and find out if you have GERD. The doc will be able to tell quickly if you have a problem. As for the medications you get prescribed...Take as few as possible. Your bronchitis may last 3-4 weeks with or without antibiotics. I never took antibiotics unless my cough lasted over 4 weeks and it never did, but came close a few times. Its was always a virus for which antibiotics do no good. Also the prednisone and ibuprofen make my reflux much worse, so they might cause reflux in you also. You sound like you eat healthy, so exercise, relax, and stop depending upon medicines to make you feel better. Too many meds always make me feel worse. I was on 5 prescription medicines and now I am on one after two surgeries to fix the problems I had. I now feel much better.
Gunner


This was a very unusual, "perfect storm" of medication - because I normally don't take any prescription drugs (or any other kinds of drugs!) This bout of bronchitis in December did not seem to go away so this is why my GP prescribed the Z pack. I always prefer to get over colds w/o antibiotics but I was getting concerned this time. Unfortunately, around the same time I got a tooth infection and the dentist had to do a root canal job on it - so he prescribed Amoxicilin.
I was very apprehensive about taking so many antibiotics...and apparently, for good reason.

My question is: if I did not have any such GERD episodes before, this is pretty much the first one - can I hope for a negative endoscopy? In other words, could this just be an isolated episode triggered by the medication, and not chronic GERD I've had for years without knowing?

Andy1986
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 1171
   Posted 1/4/2014 5:53 AM (GMT -6)   
People can get GERD after a course of antibiotics, they play havoc with the digestive system. It is true you could have had gerd for years and never knew, many on this forum had that, but it isnt a bad thing, it is very rare that it does any damage if you cant actually feel anything. Also many people on this forum have had gerd for decades and dont even have damage tothe esophagus, let alone things even rarer still like cancer.

Noone can say how long it will last either but even in severe cases it can just resolve itself. its about trial and error to find things that help the symptoms.

If you are worried about barrets esophagus then the endoscopy will give you a100% answer on it, its a condition that presents itself visually to the doctor, but they will also do biopsies.

You should really see someone about your anxiety because it can make GERD symptoms a lot worse, it wont do any harm to you, but youll be in more pain and misery because of it. when i am anxious my esophagus becomes far more sensitive and reflux feels a lot worse. stress also can make episodes of reflux more regular but that is easily combatted with regular relaxation exercises.

I would suggest you see someone like a psychiatrist if you havent already, GERD is very rarely physically damaging, but can be a mentally tough thing to deal with even without anxiety isues which are all too common along woth GERD

justscared
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2014
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 1/4/2014 9:44 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you, Andy.

I am 100% sure these symptoms were triggered by the 2 courses of antibiotics, especially that I could actually feel the pills burning my stomach very briefly after taking them.

I just don't understand why the gastro dr. seems to be so sure I had this condition before, chronically, when I never had any complaints. Just BC I have
Post nasal drip, is this a sure indicator of gerd or lpr ? Aren't there people with post nasal drip who don't have gerd?
I have chronic rhinitis (dx with it) and whats in my throat in the morning is mucus, not acidic, soury acid. I know that 100% too.


I can recognize the feeling of a bit of acid splashing slightly from the stomach, maybe after a copious meal _ because it happens very rarely to everyone. I was no different; I know this happened very rarely to me and only one time, randomly, after which all is back to normal.

I never suffered from heartburn but the dr. seemed bent on convincing me I have, because supposedly "my esophagus can get used to the burning sensation, like when you put vinegar on your hand all the time".
This sounded a little fishy to me. My favorite foods have always been acidic, soury types, anywhere from lemon juice to citrus fruits to tomatoe sauces and sour kraut. In the morning, the first thing I need on empty stomach is

something sour and acidic, usually a citrus fruit. I feel great as soon as I have one.
I was perfectly fine a few Weeks ago, before the antibiotics, and now, all if a sudden, I'm supposed to have been,chronically ill for so long without the slightest bothersome symptom in the digestive area ? I'm frustrated because I feel like this dr. is looking to label and dx what he KNOWS to label and dx.

The endoscopy will speak most clearly, of course.I will certainly have it, but I am horrified at the idea of someone being ill for so long and not know it, only to find significant damage, scarring or God forbid, something worse...from something they never felt...

This is what this "mystery"/silent reflux the dr. is talking about sounds to me.

Post Edited (justscared) : 1/4/2014 8:59:30 AM (GMT-7)

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