Hiatal Hernia Relief? GERD?

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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2014
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/25/2014 6:12 AM (GMT -6)   
I was diagnosed with a 'small hiatal hernia' about a year ago via endoscope after 5 years of recurrent unexplainable chest pain. While it was a small one, that was the only explanation my GI had for the chest pains - so he prescribed Nexium and called it a day.

As per usual, the chest pains went away, then came back 6 months later, then went away, etc. I ran out of Nexium, so went drugless for a while - when it seemed I was becoming symptomatic again, I got on Prilosec OTC instead of dealing with doctor visits... fast forward 7 months.

Chest pains returned Sunday evening, April 6th - severely limiting sleep for at least 3 days. Let me elaborate on chest pains. There is an intense burning up the middle of my chest to my sternum, then there is a piercing that radiates from there across my ribs. The piercing isn't consistent, it will be on the right side sometimes and left side others - most often on the left. When laying down the pain intensifies and seems to pulsate with my heartbeart... which also seems to flutter, but that's probably just me panicking at the situation. I also experience slight tingling/numbness in my left hand at times... this was particularly alarming during the initial stages of my 'diagnosis'. It was also accompanied by some serious bloating which felt like it should be relieved by a burp... a burp would do no good. Note that there was nothing particularly different in my diet or lifestyle in this weekend. Symptoms were all completely gone by that Thursday.

Chest pains returned once again on the morning of Sunday the 20th. I was visiting DC, so it was a pretty awful time walking around looking at monuments. It was accompanied with nausea and bloating. It went off and on over the next few days and I'd have to sleep sitting up on the couch to try to quell the fire in my chest every time I laid down.

Now we get to today... Thursday... I went to the doctor (not GI, just regular old GP) because it was getting pretty annoying that I couldn't ever sleep and my chest was on fire. He prescribed me Dexilant. I went home, ran a few miles, did some laundry, watched a movie, took a pill... was not in much discomfort. I eat some corn and ramen noodles (I'm a master chef)... 9PM hits... BAM! Chest on fire, stomach cramps, bloating, wife complaining that I won't come to bed... but I can't go to bed because I can't lay down. At this point I've been awake for over 24 hours but I can't even sleep sitting up because the burning hits me too hard if I'm not straight up. My kidneys hurt, too, but this could be due to sitting in a kitchen chair on a laptop computer for 7 hours.

Considering going to an urgent care in a couple hours if this doesn't ease up.

Is there any way this could be a 'small hiatal hernia'? Any suggestions for easing this discomfort I'm in? Thoughts on what else this could be?

Wendy Workout
Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 173
   Posted 4/25/2014 12:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Definitely sounds like heartburn. I cannot comment if other issues are also taking place simultaneously but it's possible. Are you still taking the Dexilant and regularly? You can get what is called'rebound reflux' which can feel worse by stopping and starting meds. Have you tried immediate relief products like Gaviscon or Tums? That would help get some answers. Avoiding trigger foods and drinks too like acidic, spivey, carbonated, alcohol, greasy.....I am triggered even by sugar, salt, honey, carbs in general. There are the obvious triggers and then specific ones to each individual.

There are other things to try like wearing lose fitting clothes on waist and chest, avoid bending at the waist, stay sitting for at least 30-60 mins after eating, don't eat within 2 hrs of going to bed. Everything and anything triggered mine including exercising, even gentle yoga. Sleep with the head of you bed or your upper body elevated at least 6". GERD controlled my life.

I would get a referral to see a GI doc and be tested. A small hiatus hernia can wreak havoc yes but you may have other issues such as a weaken lower esophageal sphincter. Tests can help figure this out. Push for answers as it sounds like this has become pretty invasive in your life. Don't walk away with just meds as many dr swill do that only. You have tried a couple meds. What's the cause??

Good luck and hope you feel better.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2014
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/25/2014 5:30 PM (GMT -6)   
I just changed over to Dexilant from Prilosec OTC as my symptoms were so elevated it seemed like the 20 mg Prilosec just couldn't handle it anymore. So I've only been on it for 2 days now - no relief. I've seen no relief from Gaviscon or Tums at all. I still don't know what my trigger foods would be, I think I had a ham sandwich upon the initial blowout a few weeks ago and have been primarily on salads since then. Times it has happened before there has been no consistent catalyst that I have been able to identify. I am starting to watch much more closely considering the stage I'm at right now, though.

I'm pretty good about not wearing tight clothes. I'm pretty average size, not overweight at all, I do wear a belt buckle which could pose some problems - but I've stopped wearing it in this experimentation phase. I sleep with about 4 pillows to keep my head elevated when I'm in my bed - not sure the wife would want me elevating the whole thing - but lately I've been sleeping on the couch to stay elevated and not disrupt her. Exercise-wise I generally run 3-4 times a week and it has never seemed to be related to attacks.

I had been to the GI and been scoped and all that - seems he would have noticed any other internal issues at that point? At this point, my plan is to give Dexilant a little bit of time to work before going back to the GI. I also got some sucralfate prescribed today as an added protection. I feel pretty helpless here, because I know when I go to a GI or an urgent care center I'm going to get all the same treatment I've gotten for years - but seemingly never a permanent solution or 100% confirmed diagnosis.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/25/2014 7:31 PM (GMT -6)   
My reflux is always worse when a) my stomach is empty and b) I exercise. The two together is a guarantee for reflux (this is pretty common).

You may or may not have GERD, that's when the reflux gets bad enough to cause other symptoms. Your reflux definitely should be treated so you don't progress to GERD. Your current situation actually sounds pretty mild to me (one specific trigger) but it definitely won't stay that way (and yes, cancer is a possible result), so best to get this sorted.

Sleeping propped up would be good if you're refluxing during your sleep. You could also try different foods, I find yoghurt is pretty good for suppressing the reflux without increasing the nausea, but it that may not work.

So you probably need help and information to suppress the acid production. You may still reflux but it won't be acidic and thus won't burn (preventing GERD). I searched for help and I found a blog recommending a product called Heartburn No More. I tried it and I would recommend it for sure. It really helps you understand acid reflux and what causes it, and I can honestly say that I'm feeling much better now. I'd say to anyone to at least give it a try because you need to deal with this...

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