GERD + ribcage tightness + difficulty breathing

How common is ribcage tightness/SOB with GERD
Very - 0.0%
Somewhat - 100.0%
Never heard of it/experienced it - 0.0%

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 8/9/2014 5:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello dear readers.

I am a 58 yr old female living with GERD 10+ years (plus small hiatal hernia and "early" non-dysplasia BE. Several months ago I have begun to have a very strange, constant (almost daily), sensation of breathing through cotton and rib cage tightness (rubber band-like tightness, not pain). I don't gasp or feel like I will faint, but it just feels like my ribcage doesn't fully expand when I inhale/exhale like it used to and my breathing feels more shallow.

My family care dr. took a chest xray and EKG which were normal. I even had a pulmonary breathing test which didn't show any significant problem and family care dr. always says my lungs sound clear when she uses a stethoscope. I doubt it's allergies because I don't cough or cough up any stuff.

I resumed PPIs (GERD treatment protocol: diet, elevated bed, etc.) a few months ago, hoping this "sensation" was just GERD-related and would therefore heal or disappear with the meds, but it still lingers and is driving me crazy with worry, sleeplessness. It also saps my energy, makes me feel kind of fragile, like I am no longer able to be physically active. I think the docs think it's only stress/anxiety, but it came on suddenly when I was not stressed about anything.

Q: has anyone else with GERD ever had this weird "difficulty breathing" sensation? If so, what do your gastro drs. say/recommend?? The thought of having to "adjust" to this feeling as a permanent feature of GERD is very depressing.

Thanks for your feedback.

Pat Tall
Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2012
Total Posts : 950
   Posted 8/9/2014 7:20 PM (GMT -6)   
kate, welcome to our forum. Others will come along and give some suggestions based on their experiences.

While our problem is not exactly the same as yours, there are similarities. We, too visited our primary doc, GI and then pulmonary with x-Ray and challenge breathing test. Found nothing irregular. But we finally learned it was micro-aspiration of acid and pepsin (and bile) into the lungs and bronchus. Some doctors agree and some don't. Suggest you discuss this with your doctor. Usually going back on PPI decreases acid aspiration but does not do anything for the pepsin and/or bile. The forum discusses this and google search Microaspiration . That's how we learned about it-- from this forum. Wish you well-- please stay in touch with your doctor. Kindly, Pat

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 8/10/2014 9:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for responding, Pat. I don't know how to treat micro-aspiration. Are you on any meds/PT/chiro protocols to "ease" your breathing??

I'm going to insist on a chest MRI/sonogram to ID the cause or rule out more serious issues (my general dr. discouraged a CT due to too much radiation, high cancer risk). Hopefully, it is not a symptom of a serious, life-threatening disease (cancer, acute heart disease)--the fears that race through my mind from the anxiety of not knowing for sure.
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