Allergies or Acid Reflux? The struggle is real

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Jax Derived
New Member

Date Joined Apr 2015
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/26/2015 7:12 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello all, I've been a lurker on this site for close to a year now and I am finally making a post. I'm looking for help but I will also post my experience to offer assistance to those in similar situations.

Long story short, I had an upper respiratory infection in March of 2014 and after it ended I came down by with a chronic cough that basically persists until this day. Along with this cough are other symptoms such as nasal congestion and throat clearing. The cough used to get worse with exercise.

After over 30 trips to doctors in the past year including GPs, pulmonologists, ENT, and allergist I still don't have a definitive diagnosis.

The first doc said asthma, put me on steroid inhalers and albuterol. I maintained this treatment for over 6 months with very little to no improvement. Pulmonologists put me on stronger inhalers. After no improvement finally came a whole round of tests, and guess what....turns out I don't have asthma. Spirometry was perfect and methacholine challenge was perfect. Tests also revealed high IgE, so off to the allergist.

Allergist: blood test revealed no allergies whatsoever. First skin prick test showed an allergy to grass, although very midl. Next allergy test was intradermal, which revealed allergies to dust mites, mold, and grass So I try sudafed and a nasal antihistamine/steroid combo. Huge success! Symptoms were relieved by over 80% and for the first time in over a year I could go a whole day without coughing. The cough wasn't completely gone but 1000x better. Nasal congestion was still persistent but slightly better with the nasal spray. Since then I've been on Sudafed 24 hour daily for 4 months, but there's still some problems, notable a weird feeling of mucus buildup in my throat which gets much much worse with exercise. This mucus build up sometimes makes it "odd" to breathe, like my airway is slightly blocked. And it affects my performance, I get exhausted playing sports way way way earlier than I should be.

So back to a new GP, who thinks it could be either heart related or acid reflux. All heart tests are normal (ekg, exercise test, echo) and he wants me to try Prilosec for a month. Now I have tried PPIs before in my very early days of treatment(took protonix once daily for 5 months with no improvement whatsoever), so I'm skeptical. Before I can begin treatment something terrible happens, I catch a cold. The first time I've been sick since this whole ordeal started a year ago and all the old symptoms come flooding back. The last 4 months have been great with the only symptom a slight everyday cough and exercise mucus. Now through this cold throat clearing returns, feeling of mucus in throat, a brutal cough, and more nasal congestion. The cold went away after a week but 2 weeks later all my chronic symptoms are back! It's like a never ending yearly cycle!

Anyways, that's my story and it sucks. I do highly recommend sudafed, that drug has been a lifesaver for me. Make sure it's pseudoephedrine and not the other stuff. I still take it every day and it doesn't make me jittery anymore and my blood pressure is completely normal. I'm hopeful this full return of chronic symptoms is just left over from the cold and will go away, but my body and gut are telling me that's not the case.

What is left for me to try? Should I demand some tests from my doctor.
Thanks for listening.

Me: male, 27, Midwest
No history of asthma or allergies. Allergies diagnosed recently.
Non smoker, but I do chew tobacco.
Drink alcohol rarely.
Medication therapies tried: Claritin, Allegra, protonix, albuterol, symbicort, singulair, qnasl, nasonex, dymistA, codeine cough syrup, zpack, sudafed, atrovent nasal spray, afrin, Xanax (doc thought maybe anxiety), tums, mucinex, Benadryl, and probably a few more I can't think.

My best guess is a bad dust mite allergy and maybe gerd or lpr. I would just like a definitive diagnosis. I'm considering immunotherapy (allergy shots) this summer.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 5022
   Posted 4/26/2015 5:20 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to the forum.

We're not doctors, but from my experience I'd guess you may have more than one condition, as most of us do.

I get the allergy shots and they keep my allergy symptoms down to nothing. I had GERD which didn't give me allergy or breathing symptoms, but a whole lot of people on the GERD forum had really bad breathing/asthma problems caused by their reflux. You can read their stories - see the search box at the top of the page.

You probably ought to see a gastroenterologist to check on the GERD stuff. Even if you have allergies, getting your stomach contents in your breathing system can also happen, and it will worsen your symptoms.

I did have non-acid reflux because taking PPIs, acid reducers kept my esophagus from being irritated. I was fine that way until I was in a wreck that pushed my stomach into my chest so that I had to have the surgery. I didn't tolerate most PPIs. They mostly just didn't work for me. Only Aciphex and Nexium helped me. Others have had different results. Don't give up on all because the first one you tried didn't do any good. Also, the over-the-counter products are only half-strength. And finally, PPIs don't work unless taken properly. Take 1/2 to 1 hour before breakfast, and then you MUST eat! They won't turn off the acid pumps if the pumps don't get turned on with food. They do NOT work directly in the stomach, but they have to be metabolized. (Rule of thumb for metabolized meds is 45 minutes until they work.)

Another thing that can cause problems is a chronic sinus infection. I have one that comes back over and over, and I mostly treat it with sinus washes. When it gets into my lungs, then I have to go on antibiotics. I've had sinus surgery, but that only made things worse and wasn't any fun at all.

Joan M
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 2052
   Posted 4/29/2015 10:36 AM (GMT -6)   
you might have exercise-induced asthma, which might mean you have to take meds before exercise.

i had silent reflux which was a bad taste in my mouth and a sore throat. also with allergies, you might have a lower immune system.

it is possible to have both reflux and allergies at the same time.

take care everybody

Joan M
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 2052
   Posted 4/29/2015 10:36 AM (GMT -6)   
you might have exercise-induced asthma, which might mean you have to take meds before exercise.

i had silent reflux which was a bad taste in my mouth and a sore throat. also with allergies, you might have a lower immune system.

it is possible to have both reflux and allergies at the same time.

take care everybody

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2013
Total Posts : 40
   Posted 5/6/2015 7:52 AM (GMT -6)   
if it were me, I would either have some food allergy/intolerance testing done, or try the DIY method -

eliminate dairy, wheat, grains, citrus fruit, or ay other known food allergens - try each one for a week or 2 and see what happens - worth a shot anyway -

good luck -

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4415
   Posted 5/6/2015 5:46 PM (GMT -6)   
High IgE can be either from allergies or parasites (or both).

Fungal sinus infections can cause your symptoms, and won't improve with antibiotics or allergy meds. Allergy meds may mask symptoms, but won't cure the problem.

Getting rid of mold that was growing in my house took my seasonal allergies down from a huge problem to a minor inconvenience. If you have a fungal infection in your sinuses, getting rid of it may reduce your allergies to other things as well.

I also agree with the above post about trying an elimination diet. My Brother had horrendous allergies until he did an elimination diet (he avoided wheat, milk/dairy, eggs, tree nuts, tomatoes, potatoes, yeast, rice, corn and soy; when these foods were challenged after an elimination period, all but the rice caused symptoms to return).

Now he uses an essential oils diffuser in his bedroom at night (to get rid of mold & other stuff in the air), and that with the avoidance of trigger foods has seen his severe allergy symptoms (including a chronically lingering cough) dramatically improved.

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube; TPN-dependent
Meds: Flagyl, Essential Oils, Homeopathy, Herbs, etc.

Post Edited (Razzle) : 5/6/2015 4:59:59 PM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 2146
   Posted 5/6/2015 8:36 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree regarding diet. I think I would definitely try going Dairy free first and see what happens, and if nothing improves then its worth going Gluten free, so that you can rule that out too, as if it is your diet it is just not going to go away, and in fact you could end up with other ailments, so its best to know one way or the other.
Samantha, 45 yrs
Stopped smoking Jan 2013.
Diagnosed. Left sided UC, 8th Feb 2014
Pentasa..2g daily
2 x Ultimate Flora 50 billion probotics, Vit D, and Multi vitamin tab daily.
Gluten free from Sept 2014

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 1604
   Posted 7/11/2015 11:36 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi there,

I have acid reflux and many allergies, including food allergies, which predate my reflux problems. I found out the hard way that the long acting Ventolin type inhalers relax the LES and worsen my reflux symptoms. So I'm careful to keep up with my steroids and minimize the reliever inhaler and I don't use the combination ones.

It's difficult because reflux can worsen asthma, but the long acting reliever sprays can worsen reflux.

A high IgE can come from mould or dust mite and doesn't accurately reflect the level of the allergy. It may not correlate with symptoms very well either!

GERD (4 years and counting)
Lifelong stuff: Food allergies/intolerance, eczema, asthma

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2015
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/21/2015 2:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Have you had your thyroid checked? I experienced something similar to what you are describing: throat clearing, coughing, chest pain, breathing issues, headache, congestion, and I thought it was all allergy related, because I do have many allergies. But I was wrong. And it took me years (and no help from doctors) to finally figure out that I had sub-clinical low thyroid. The thyroid controls everything, from your metabolic rate to your immune system. So if you haven't had it checked, ask them to check it. And ask for the full panel, not just TSH.

Do you drink tea? If you do, wean off the tea slowly. If you don't drink it, don't start. The tea plant camellia sinensis reduces thyroid function and masks the problem so that the TSH score will look normal. This is what happened to me. My TSH was normal. I stopped the tea and in only a couple weeks it skyrocketed - meaning low thyroid. In my case, stopping the tea, adding a multivitamin, and waiting a few months, was all I needed to solve the problem.

Important minerals for the thyroid are iron, zinc, selenium and iodine. Iodine deficiency used to be a big problem and it still is in many parts of the world. Now iodine is becoming a problem again because it's no longer used in bread making anymore. Make sure you are getting iodine and all of the others somewhere in your diet. These are important for many glands, including the thymus gland (different from the thyroid) which controls the a part of the immune system related to allergies (specifically the differentiation of T-cells).

Once I stopped the tea and took a trace mineral supplement, all of my breathing problems, chest pain, reflux, digestive issues, nasal congestion and headaches improved.

Prior to that discovery, I'd tried everything, even rinsing out my nose with baby shampoo, and ordering a probiotic called L.Sakei online to add to my sinus rinse. None of that helped.

One thing that did help with the reflux issue is "Alginic Acid". Don't worry, it's not actually an acid. If you google it you'll find you can buy it on Amazon. You chew a tablet after a meal, and it creates a temporary foam cork that floats at the top of your stomach, blocking acid from rising into the esophagus. The problem with reflux isn't the acid in the stomach, but the opening to the stomach being loose. The Alginic acid blocks the door.

Hope this helps.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2015
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 8/21/2015 2:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I forgot to mention, I took sudafed everyday for years for the congestion. I'm off it now for the first time in probably four years. (I'm happy to say I have had no long term side effects.) I had never heard about congestion being a symptom of a thyroid issue, but it is. It might not be the cause for you, but it's a good idea to rule it out, if it hasn't been yet.
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