22 Years Old With Silent Acid Reflux / LPR, Advice?

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Hey everyone,

New here. Basically, I am 22 and have recently started suffering from silent acid reflux. Mine came on very suddenly, it was not gradual at all. I can pinpoint the exact date and meal where it started, and my throat has never been the same since. Effectively, I was eating a meal - and suddenly my throat became very tight, I could not breathe properly and it felt like I had something stuck in my throat. Ever since this incident, I have had an almost constant lump sensation in my throat filled with mucus to varying degrees of severity. At its worse, it makes me feel like I cannot breathe or like I am going to gag. At its best, it is just a total annoyance. I find it gets much worse when commuting (I am guessing because I am exercising, walking to work, through the Underground etc.). I have no other symptoms other than this mucus-filled lump in my throat.

Anyway, I saw my doctor about this and he was slightly perplexed as I have almost no risk factors for silent acid reflux. I am very young, I am nowhere near overweight (if anything, too skinny), I do not drink very much and I do not smoke at all. I also have an extremely fast metabolism.

The only trigger we thought it could be was stress and working extremely long hours which involves a lot of very late night eating, and insufficient sleep. Due to this, often I go long periods during the day without eating and have a substantial lunch followed by a very large dinner late at night. Obviously, I know now this is a major risk factor and have immediately tried to fix this. A few months prior I was suffering with severe chest pains and palpitations - my doctor listened to my heart - and decided I was having anxiety attacks, combined with muscle tension in my chest due to chronic stress and recommended me for relaxation therapy. Since then, I have had no issues with chest pains.

At first, he diagnosed me with post-nasal drip with a nasal spray but now he has decided I have silent acid reflux and prescriped me with Omeprazole 20mg per day. I am now entering my third month of having Omeprazole. I find if I take it for a few weeks, I start to get an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and also constipation so sometimes I have to take a few days off from it. It is for this reason I am scared to request for an increase in dose too. While there is marginal improvement, it is not particularly great and nowhere near where it was before this problem started.

I also have IBS - and possibly IBD - pending a colonoscopy and biopsy.

My question is this: where do I go from here? I do not want to take Omeprazole for the rest of my life (i.e. the next 60 years). I am seeing this doctor again tomorrow who said "Just call me if you are unhappy, and I will send you to ENT". So I am assuming he will now send me for a endoscopy as well. I have heard things about taking probiotics? I take Yakult at the moment. Is there anything else I can do? Due to acne when I was a teenager, I was on long-term antibiotics for 4 years which I am absolutely convinced is behind both this and my IBS. If the endoscopy shows something / nothing, what can they do apart from keep prescriping me PPIs? Will this get better at some point if I keep taking PPIs or am I stuck with this for life? I keep trying to slowly withdraw from the Omeprazole if I go through a short period where it feels better, but then it flares up again. Does anyone know if there are any private clinics which are good at dealing with issues like this? I am not keen on waiting 4 months for an endoscopy appointment on the NHS, particularly as I may not even be able to get time off work for it. And clearly this is one of the most irritating conditions I have ever experienced and I desparately want this lumpy sensation in my throat to go. At first, I went to my doctor as I thought I had food stuck in my throat it's that bad, but apparently not.

I am very young, and this is impacting my life significantly. In fact, combined with my other health problems, I feel like a 50 year old.

TLDR: I am 22 and for some reason I have suddenly developed silent acid reflux out of nowhere, it is bringing me down, how do I get rid of it? And am I stuck with it for long-term? What are the best ways to manage it as nothing seems to be working?

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12 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi! So sorry to hear of your struggle. I just went through this and it was horrible but I'm healing now that I found the culprit and we are now weeding me off meds.

    I'm under the impression you have not yet seen an ENT... definitely see a specialist. I take omprezaole in the AM (40 mg) and rinitidine at night. Def stop eating 3 hours before sleeping. Elevate your bed 6 inches. You really have to have discipline and follow through with dietary restrictions. My culprit was.... dairy (and possibly eggs). I gave it up and within three days I felt so much better. Trial and error!!! I was desperately looking for help and came across an ENTs LPR link and was so happy I did. His thoughts are dairy could be the trigger for ppls LPR.

    Prayer and doing what I could to help myself is what did it for me. I feel so much better now. I hope you do too! Hopefully you will pass along your story to help the next person smile

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  • Posted

    Hi. The Omeprazole is a very low dose. It can be increased and then you can go onto stronger meds like Emeprazole or Ranitide and prescription only Gaviscon double thck! I have gone through that exact cycle.

    My advice is  - go for every test possible so that you rule out factors and minimise the causes. Make it as easy for the Dr to diagnose as possible. As for waiting on the NHS......I found that once you see a Gastro specialist you are in the line and if needed you will be scheduled for whatever,

    There are a miriad of causes for Acid reflux but not all have been found. It is often a mystery and may be a physical thing like a hernia.

    Sort it asap and prevent further hassles.

    Good luck

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  • Posted

    Thanks everyone for your contributions, I really appreciate it. My doctor has referred me to ENT. In the meantime, he has given me more Omeprazole. However, he did express concern at me continuing to take it so told me to try and slow down as soon as I can.

    He is also suspicious that it might be a muscle issue or globus sensation? Or even a combination of silent reflux, postnasal drip and globus sensation. I ordered some test online that is suppose to help diagnose reflux so hopefully that might give me at least some indication so I do not feel like I am carrying on with the PPIs for no reason.

    Also, sometimes in the morning if I open my mouth very wide, I can actually see like a very small amount of white frothy stuff on the right side which sort of hangs around and drops down. But I can never actually cough up or get out whatever I feel in my throat. And I also get a somewhat itchy sensation sometimes along with a wet feeling.

    I just find it so odd the way it started so suddenly and dramatically, makes me wonder if I've had it for years and it's never been bad enough to notice.

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  • Posted

    Oh my god. I really really hope your life has improved since then.

    This describes me to a tee. I am also 22, and also had very sudden onset LPR. At least I think it is LPR. My throat is tight, I have major difficulties swallowing, it is often sore, and a large amount of mucus. I have been to see the doctors 10 times or so, but they are infuriating. They keep saying I am imagining it, there is nothing wrong, and I am probably just depressed. I am not, but I just have no idea what to do anymore.

    How are you doing now? Did you find a way to manage your condition? 

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    • Posted

      Hey,

      Things have improved considerably for me and I would say it is under control or well-managed now although certainly not cured. It is far from perfect but definitely tolerable and somedays it is completely normal now. I have been through quite a lot of things, it is hard to say what has worked but I am running on the assumption that it has all helped a little bit. Starting with the slightly less conventional stuff, I did the following:

      Firstly, I did the thing with the bed. I bought some specialist blocks online and stuck them under my bed to lift the bed up by a few inches. You get used to being on a small gradient surprisingly quickly and now it feels weird sleeping flat. For me, this was very helpful as one of my biggest issues would be at night where my throat would be so congested that I would feel like I could not breathe and wake up or I would wake up with a lump in my throat.

      Secondly, I tried a few unconventional things with the drinking vinegar (Google it) ten minutes before meals when it was at its worst and also with the drinking aloe vera. Not sure if this helped but doubt it did any damage.

      Thirdly, I contacted a specialist supplement supplier to see if they had any ideas too (this was at peak desperation). They gave me some probiotics (since I have been on a very large amount of antibiotics over my short life and have IBS too). I think it is something like Acidophilus x10 billion, there are different ones you can try, again not sure they really did anything but cannot be doing any harm so definitely get some probiotics. I think this was done to help improve overall digestion. They also gave me some further supplement to take just before meals which was a type of digestive enzyme supplement wihch is suppose to aid digestion and also dilute the acid or something like that. So maybe have a look into something like that and see how it goes.

      Fourthly, and this sounds very obvious, but I started eating at a table. I used to always eat food on my sofa and I heard sitting at this angle can promote acid reflux by weakening the stomach valve. So eat at a table properly where you can and slowly.

      Now for the more medical type stuff...

      My GP gave me 20mg Omeprazole to take per day. I took these everyday for three months, and there was some improvement but withdrawing from them was quite difficult. My GP said I should not take them for more than three months ideally. And I do not enjoy taking them (gave me stomach cramps / nausea sometimes), so we decided to withdraw from them slowly over the course of a couple of weeks (so instead of taking one a day, take one every two days, and then one every three days etc.) After this he said I should only take them when it is extremely bad and try and avoid taking them as much as possible because of the long-term side effects. And so I managed about four months without taking them. And then it suddendly got much worse again out of nowhere so I had to go back on them but I was only on them for about five days before coming off them again and now it feels back under control again.

      The other major thing which really I felt was a lot more effective than the Omeprazole was the Gaviscon Advance liquid. I took this after every single meal including breakfast for a week and crucially before bed - if at no other time, make sure you take it before bed. After the week, I moved to just taking it daily before bed and now I am in the proecss of trying to come off it as well since I have been doing that for three months - and ideally you should not be taking it daily for that long. So I am now trying just to take it a few nights a week now when it is particularly bad or if I have been drinking or eating something bad etc. This is a bit more challenging since I feel very reliant on it but a work-in-progress. I personally found the Gaviscon to be extremely effective. I had a few tests done, the specialist said he could see evidence of congestion in my throat etc. but essentially told me to carry on as I am. The other key thing is if you feel the lump in your throat or congestion, try not to cough it up or swallow it as this will just irritate the throat and make it worse. My main issue was the congestion of the throat, lump in the throat, difficulty breathing when it was very bad and almost a damp feeling at the back of my throat.

      I think I am essentially stuck with this condition for life now but I feel like I have it under control 80% of the time and my symptoms are very minimal now - I can breathe normally etc. Just an occassional lump in the throat and mucus which is annoying. But before, I had so much mucus I felt like I could no longer breathe and almost felt like I was going to be sick. So I am glad this aspect seems mostly under control. Hopefully I can keep it this way. If you do have flexibility over your diet and drinking, then certainly try avoiding trigger foods and drinks, at least on a temporary basis and then gradually reintroduce them.

      Hope this helps and good luck! Believe me, I feel your pain and hopelessness but maybe this helped.

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    • Posted

      I also had a Barium Swallow done recently but do not have the results yet. If you have not been referred to ENT yet, then I would go ahead and get your GP to do that.
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  • Posted

    This describes exactly what I'm going through at the moment. I am 23 years old and my silent reflux came out of nowhere. I'm really healthy and not overweight. I went to my ENT he said I have silent reflux after sticking a camera down my nose. I think the biggest thing is diet and making sure you take your meds. I've been taking Zantac 3 times a day and I'm starting to feel a little bit better. Hope everything works out for you.  

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  • Posted

    Hey,

    Don't know if you are still following this thread,  but I am just coming back to check up on how you are doing! So I tried to implement some of the things you said, to varying degrees of success, and slowly (very very slowly), the burning sensation has died away. That sensation of something not being quite right when I swallow is still there, but it is manageable now. The worst part is the fact that it looks like we are going to be stuck with this for the rest of our lives as you said, but I am slowly coming to terms with that. As an athlete it was pretty hard having to quit competitive play, but it's not the end of the world smile.

    So I switched Doctors and finally one of them believes me and ordered an endoscopy. This was about 2 months ago, and it came up clean. I have my Barium swallow coming up next, and we will see what the issues are. I have also had this problem of heart palpitations which started about the same time as this. I was wondering if you were having issues with that as well?

    Now, as much as I am coming to terms with this, I still want to see if we can fix it. I'm trying to find people with problems similar to ours, and asking some questions. Of course answer only what you feel comfortable answering, but I really want to see if we can do something to get us back to full health. 

    Firstly when you swallow, do you feel like you have any obstructions in the throat? If you do have some feeling of obstruction where do you feel it? When I swallow it varies, but never really feels normal. The entire swallowing mechanism seems out of place, and it seems congested rather than free-flowing. It feels, for lack of a better term, "unsatisfying". Having said that it does not really feel like a lump in my throat per se, rather just something out of place.

    Do you have trouble breathing? Do you sometimes feel asthmatic?

    I have trouble breathing when I start exercising. This was very bad in the beginning where I would be breathless even walking the stairs or down the block, but has improved. It comes and goes depending on the day, never really fixed, but better some days than others. I have not yet found a pattern.

    Is there any burning sensation either in the throat or the oesophagus?

    Do your burps feel forced? Occasionally I will have to "force" out a burp, and that is definitely forced, though some still come freely.

    Have you been able to vomit properly since this started? No. I have not been able to vomit at all since this started, though I have been able to retch, and surprisingly this makes me feel much better.

    When this started, was your throat put through some trauma (i.e. you tried coughing too much or forcing something out)? Yes, for me it felt like a grain of rice was stuck in my throat. I coughed and vomited like crazy to try and get it out to no avail. Ever since then I have been stuck with this. Also, I had two different episodes. The rice thing was first, and it was bad, but a week later, I was chugging water, and it happened again. This time it felt like I had swallowed my throat and it was stuck in the wrong position. I have never been able to get back to a "completely normal" feeling again.

    Do you have TMJ? Yes, though it is not very severe.

    Have you had any palpitations since this started? Yes. They were very bad during the beginning when I had a lot of burning in my chest and throat, but when the burning died down, so did the palpitations. Also, multivitamins seemed to help.

    Do you have any trouble swallowing either liquids or solids? Not really. Everything goes down the oesophagus easily, it is just the swallowing part itself where the troubles lie.

    Have you had a barium swallow and if you have what were the results? No.

    Have you had a manometry and if you have what were the results? No.

    Have you had a endoscopy and if you have what were the results? Yes, perfect oesophageal health.

    How many hours a day do you sleep? 4-5. It has lowered significantly since this problem started as I kept waking up due to the burning. I am slowly starting to bring it back to 8 hours.

    Do you have any problems with your ears (like randomly feeling stuffed, etc.)? Yes. Occasionally my ears will feel stuffed. This happens especially after an intense cardio/lifting session.

    Have you had a blood test and was it normal? My last blood test was about 1 year ago. It was normal.

    Again, there is no pressure to answer any of these, I just want to see if we can try and find some similarities and since I now work at a research hospital with some really good doctors, I can see if we can find anything and fix this. If you know of any other questions you think may help, please let me know.

    Good Luck!

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    • Posted

      Also,

      Have you had any issues with your voice? Not really, though sometimes when I am feeling better, it is more relaxed, though that could be coincidence.

      Has this affected your speaking? Yes. I have to speak much less now as I would drool if I don't stop. This was VERY bad initially, to the point where I basically never spoke, but has gotten much better.

       

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    • Posted

      I'm having exactly the same issue. It started 5 months ago after a tooth extraction. I'm not sure if it was the tooth extraction that caused it or the antibiotics that I took afterwards (Amoxicillin 500 3x a day for 5 days). The symptoms started a day after I finished the antibiotic course. 2 months after the LPR symptoms started, I got chronic heartburn that wouldn't go away no matter what I do, what I eat, and how little I eat. I am currently on PPIs which did help in getting rid of the heartburn but the LPR symptoms still remain.

      I have all the symptoms you mentioned plus excessive saliva that makes me swallow every minute or less, throat pain on the right side, and nasal congestion on the right side as well.

      I did a drastic diet change, eating only steamed fish and jasmine rice in small amounts 5 times a day. Raised my bed using cinder blocks, and stopped drinking coffee. Alkaline water is the only thing I drink now.

      How long was it before you experienced relief?

      Thank you so much!

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    • Posted

      Hey Karlo,

      I'm sorry to hear you have it too, and I really hope it turns out good for you very soon. It's been almost a year and a half for me now, and I think I can finally say that I have some hope that this might turn out okay.

      First I need to stress that you have to get an endoscopy and a nasal scope done just to make sure that there is no damage to the throat or other acidic damage to the pharyngeal region. I had this done whilst my throat was really burning, and the doctors said that their may be a little bit of acid, but they couldn't really see any damage, and were not 100% sure what I should do next. It was pretty frustrating as it leaves you helpless, but it did at least calm me down to know that I should not have any risk of cancers, etc. due to acid damage in the throat.

      I next turned to ENTs. I was lucky enough to get a reasonably quick appointment with a very good ENT, and after doing a nasal scope and some other tests, he said that I may have something called Muscle Tension Dysphagia. Now, this is diagnosis is relatively unheard of, and in my year and a half of constant Googling, I had never come across it, but he said that many people (especially young people) will have these complaints despite having a clear tract. There are some research papers on it if you want to search for them, and the good thing is that there is 100% recovery if this is indeed what you have. Even better is that since this is a functional issue, there is no need for surgery etc.

      The treatment is based on relaxing the muscles of the throat. This is done through a mixture of breathing, vocal exercises, massages and stretching. Basically physiotherapy for the throat. I was slightly skeptical when I started, but I definitely feel better and it's only been 4 days. I am starting a blog explaining this issue and the treatment exercises I was given as I feel that a lot of people are struggling with this problem and nobody has come across Muscle Tension Dysphagia. Most ENTs have not even heard of it or treat it.

      Now I don't want to get too excited just yet, but I feel like I have gotten past the worst and everything is getting better now. I still think there may be a little bit of acid reflux that I may have to treat, but this reflux is not the only thing causing this feeling of something wrong with the swallowing mechanism.

      Additionally, I had a round of antibiotics for another infection but somehow it seemed to (almost completely) solve my heart palpitation symptoms. It has been a weird journey, but the future is starting to look good again.

      I wish you all the best, and please let me know if you have any questions

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