Good day one and all! I am new to these forums so thank you all very much for taking the time to read!
So I am a 35 year-old male who is very active in playing sports/weight lifting/ etc. I work out 5-6 times a week and weigh 176 lbs. of lean muscle. (I mention this only to demonstrate that obesity has not been a factor in causing/worsening my GERD.) So up until this past January, I never experienced ANY typical reflux-related symptoms in my life. No heartburn, no coughing, no voice hoarseness, no chest pain: NOTHING.
However, after being ill in January of this year and being on Doxycicline for 10 days, I experienced an intense onslaught of the following symptoms:- throat tightness, lump in throat, swallowing discomfort, excessive mucus in throat, ear pain, upper back pain, chest pressure and tightness, hoarseness, coughing, clearing throat, and post nasal drip.
These symptoms continued without respite for weeks and finally my GP sent me to an ENT for a nasal laryngoscopy which revealed very little. I also had a neck CT scan which also showed nothing. Nonetheless, I was placed on 40mg Omeprazole and referred to a GI doctor who did an upper endoscopy.
The results were as follows: Ringed appearance mucosa in the esophagus. Biopsied.
Z-line variable, 38 cm. from incisors. Biopsied.
Erythematous mucosa in the gastric body and antrum. Biopsied.
2cm. hiatal hernia.
Normal examined duodenum.
All the biopsies came back negative and the GI doctor diagnosed me with GERD and decided to keep me on Omeprazole for a few months more to heal my esophagus and also institute lifestyle changes and dietary changes. This all came as shock to me because prior to this year, I never felt any symptoms and had no idea I had a hernia. So over the last few months since then, I have made the following changes:- I never have and never will smoke or drink alcohol.
- I do not eat 3 hours before sleeping
- The head of my bed is elevated 8 inches when I use my bed
- Most nights I sleep in a recliner at around 70 degrees with a pillow under my lower back to avoid falling forward and crunching my abdomen. I have never once woken up slouching forward.
- As a someone who lifts weights regularly, my diet already consisted of reflux-friendly choices such as banana protein shakes, avacado sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, eggs, salads, ground turkey and chicken, and at least 2 liters of water (often ph8+) a day
- I rarely have anything like fast food, pizza, chocolate etc (1-2 times a month)
- I try to avoid over-eating. Though this seems to be a moving target that I am still judging.
- I avoid all exercises that put pressure on my abdomen such as sit-ups, crunches, flat-bench press
Both my ENT and GI doctor's are very pleased with the way I am approaching this. But now we are getting to the real concern I am having. Despite all the good lifestyle/dietary choices I have made, I have a major weakness. I positively LOVE energy drinks. Specifically, I love the zero calorie Monster energy drinks. They are carbonated and caffeinated, of course 🤔 I do not drink them in excess. But when I'm at work for 10+ hours, it is one heck of an enjoyable pick-me-up. Now I have discussed this with both my doctors and surprisingly, both said that in moderation it was fine to drink them. My GI doctor even told me one a day was perfectly fine. This advice seems to go against everything I have read or heard online about
reflux-causing drinks. Everyone screams STAY AWAY. But these two doctors did not. And the GI doctor specializes in endoscopic procedures related to Barretts and esophageal cancer.
So moving forward, I can admit that I am nervous about
drinking them despite my doctor's casual assurances but also kind of sad about
the possibility of giving them up completely. I don't want to do anything to give myself Barretts or worse. I also don't want to be paranoid and obsessed with getting cancer to the point that I skip out on enjoyable things in life. I have many of the risk factors for getting Barretts such as being caucasian, male, having a hiatul hernia (2cm), and GERD. But I am also living in ways to avoid that happening and am being treated with PPI's.
So I don't know. Am I being obsessive and paranoid? I can admit that I often face anxiety with regards to cancer and that is something I am working on through faith. So what do you all think? What have your doctors told you all about
carbonated/caffeinated drinks? Do any of you struggle with a particular food/drink that you still have in moderation or have completely given up?
Thank you all so much for your kind words and time!