GERD, ulcer or something else?

Posted , 8 users are following.


My life has taken an utter downturn over the past 3 months and I've never been so worried about my health. I'm only 30 but feel like the stomach issues I've been experiencing have ruined the quality of life I have, and I'm terrified I'm on my way out and slowly dying of something that's not been picked up.

3 months ago I was put on antibiotics for another health scare which ended up being ok. This all came out the blue after a routine smear. I was put on flucloxicillan for 9 days and instructed to take them on an empty stomach. I did - I was busy that week and possibly took the empty stomach thing too far.

On the Friday evening I didn't eat for 12 hours, had lots of caffeine and took the pills. I had pizza late at night.

The next day I had leftover pizza, coffee and a bit of a stressful day. When I sat down to my boyfriend cooking me dinner (a spicy curry), halfway through I got a sudden rush of nausea that I've never experienced before. It was like stomach acid coming up my throat. I didn't feel sick, it's hard to explain, but it made my heart beat funny. I felt I had to be sick and ended up throwing up all night. Thought it might have been a wee bug and that was the end of it but kind of had a feeling of dread about the whole thing because it felt so weird.

Since then I've had so many issues. For a week after this incident I couldn't stop retching in the morning or an hour after I ate something. I lost my appetite completely. I was nibbling at stuff and felt like my tongue was swollen. I went to the doctor who discovered oral thrush, ran loads of blood tests - blood count, diabetes, thyroid - all came back clear. My anxiety was growing since it took 3 weeks of Nystatin to treat the thrush.

The thrush disappearing eased the gagging, but for a while I felt like I had a dry, deep cough and something stuck in my lower throat. It felt like I couldn't swallow when I had it. That cleared up when I went to a herbalist and took marshmallow root in tea.

i then developed intermittent nausea with occasional gagging again. It would happen about an hour after I ate and I still get this several times a week, but not after every meal.

Things got better in October to mid November where I started to calm down, but on some bad days it feels like I've not digested food properly from the night before and I wake up feeling heavy in my throat.

2 weeks ago it took a sudden downturn again. I had a severe wave of nausea which resulted in a panic attack. Since then, I feel like i'm off food. I get hungry in my stomach but not in my head if that makes any sense. I also have a few bites and get full really quickly. I've lost weight I can't afford to lose and have developed severe heartburn from this.

I went back to the docs and he diagnosed me with GERD. He thinks it could either be an ulcer or a hernia, and I'm still waiting on h pylori results. If that comes back positive things will make sense, but if it's negative I have no idea what's going on. I feel like I get hungry and just can't cope with food. I'm not being sick but between the nausea, fullness and occasional odd feeling that my throat is tight I don't know what to do. I'm sleeping 4 hours a night since the last big nausea episode and am worried I'm dying. Please help, I'm so close to going to A &  E and requesting tests. I have terrible health anxiety and this isn't like me but I can't live like this without knowing if this is my last Christmas. That might sound dramatic but I have no interest in food and that's not right.

1 like, 32 replies

32 Replies

  • Posted

    Sounds like gastritis and/or ulcer symptoms.

    Gastritis can be caused by other causes than h pylori. Harsh anti biotics and poor diet and lifestyle may have caused your current bout of gastritis.

    Caffeine is bad for gastritis,cut it out.

    A healthy diet and reduced stress is key to healing from gastritis. And also acid blockers may help but hold off them till h pylori result.

    Gastritis takes some time to heal also.

    • Posted

      Hey Paul,

      Thanks very much. It comes and goes, that's why I am confused! I was ok for a few weeks. And I do still get hungry, I just fill up really quickly.

      The burning has been insane in the past week which I find odd - I just started omeprazole!

      My lifestyle to be fair was bad befor this. I was running about in work and for other people and forgetting to eat. I did that on the week I took the antibiotics as well, and had previously taken antibiotics the week before for another infection. It's been a rotten year.

      I can eat and know folk in my personal life who have had a bout of this and have thrown up constantly. I don't have that and when I get the reflux I can control it now, it just caught me off guard the first night. I'm just freaking out because I've started filling up really quickly and food isn't very appealing. Then again, I've spent the past 3 months being a prisoner in my own allegedly young body and am so so stressed about it, I'm making it worse. I'm waking up in the middle of the night worried sick about this and can feel my stoamch churning. Even my doctor said I was very sensitive and am making this worse.

      The nausea episode was half a panic attack, too. So I don't know if the extreme nerves and lack of eating I did 2 weeks ago has angerd an ulcer or my entire stomach. The burning is way better when I eat and worse like 3 hours after food or now into the middle of the night. It's so scary. I hope I get over this. It's making me want to change my whole life and outlook. I was such a worrier before about other people and where my life was going - now I want a  comfortable life where I can enjoy the wee things, like eating and sleeping! When you can do that comfortably you are truly rich. How are you, what brings you to patient forums? I've met some lovely folk here x

    • Posted

      Hello again.

      I came on here as I suffered for 2 years with chronic gastritis caused by h pylori infection. My diet and lifestyle wasn't too good either and since having gastritis my eating habits and lifestyle have changed drastically...but for the better really. I am now much healthier and feel good.

      Doctors just tend to chuck ppi at you and tell you to away, they don't offer much advice around diet. I had to learn by trail and error and from speaking to other sufferers. Diet and healthy lifestyle is key to healing. Ppi's reduce acid so you can heal quicker, but good diet is ultimately what you need.

      It does sound like you have given yourself gastritis (or ulcer) from stress and poor eating habits. Stress causes lots of acid production, you need to control it. So does caffeine, I avoid it completely, you don't need it !

      You could with having an endoscopy for a firm diagnosis. You may be negative for h pylori and still have gastritis as it can be caused by other things like I've said.

      Usual recovery time for gastritis is 3-6 months. And you should start a food and symptom diary to identify what upsets you. Once identified cut it out to see if you improve. The diet is strict il warn you. No alcohol, dairy, high fat foods, caffeine, acidic foods and drinks, spicy foods. Foods you eat should be easy to digest (not raw veg and too coarse). Be careful of fodmap foods as well as they cause gas which will irritate.

      You will get there, just need to let the body heal.

    • Posted

      Hey Paul,

      It's great to hear you're doing better. Sounds like your diet will be really good for you! I need to get over the food aversion I've got and get back to eating. I actually ate a lot better before this happened and now tend to eat safety foods. I feel like my diet and lifestyle have regressed to when I was a little girl, eating such bland foods and spending a lot of time indoors because not eating sufficiently has made me very tired.

      I am so so scared of the endoscopy but I know it would confirm a diagnosis. I almost went to A & E at the weekend to rule stuff out since I think it's at that stage.

      My doctor is great but I agree, PPI drugs are not what you want to be on long term and I know it will be difficult coming off them. I just need to try them just now to see if they help.

      How did you find out about your gastritis? Did you have similar symptoms to mine? i'm just baffled as to how a random night of vomiting and a week on antibiotics out the blue has led to this! So difficult with it being Christmas, I'm struggling watching other people eat. The weird thing is I am hungry a lot of the time, I just fill up easily and coupled with the anxiety (which I need to calm down), eating has gone from being my favourite thing to an utter nightmare.

      Thank you for the advice - please give me some more, I feel quite lonely in this! And needy clearly, haha.

    • Posted

      Forgot tos it normal to feel full quickly and have a loss of appreciation for food with this thing? i've only felt like this for the past 2 weeks and it's been a scary symptom. Before this flare up I wanted to eat, I just struggled with the aftermath. some days I didn't want to eat much but they would always be matched with me enjoying my food when I could have it. Thanks.

    • Posted


      A few things I want to mention to add to everything Paul said. 1st thing you want to do is, run some tests, to be rest assured that you don't have anything going on that is life threatening. (Endoscopy, stool tests, specific blood tests etc..). If everything is normal, then the next thing you wanna do is RELAX! Relax, because you're not dying. The pain can be disturbing, but you can heal if you stay calm and pay attention to your triggers. Deal with stress. Get a hold of it. It ruins lives! Exercise, even if you don't like to. It helps a lot. DO NOT take Antibiotics AT ALL, unless it's to treat a life threatening infection or bacteria. One thing everyone here have in common is, they took ANTIBIOTICS and here comes more problems. It kills bacteria and creates new issue. Begin taking PROBIOTICS, find really good ones. And eat healthy. Don't eat processed food. Pay attention to your diet to figure out what causes triggers for you. Eliminate them for a while until you get back to feeling normal again. Overall, try your best to deal with stress. It makes things worst.

      Best of luck

    • Posted

      Hey Eddy,

      Thanks very much for your message. I've totally lost my mind over this. I hate going to hospital for tests - I wouldn't even give blood with my friends a few months ago in case they found something - so this stomach thing has been a nightmare. I have OCD as well with I'm getting CBT for but these symptoms are really severe and they are physical. They manifested really abruptly and have changed as time goes on. I've not been feeling as sick since I went on omeprazole and startd taking probiotics but my stomach feels uncomfortably full sometimes, like it's just not digesting food properly, and my throat feels clogged up at times as well when it's like that. It puts you off eating. I don't know if it's because I've been having smaller portions but I just feel completely devoid when i eat now. I don't get the pleasure or satisfaction, I just fill up really quickly. Is that a symptom of gastritis too? I must admit this flare up only started burning when my stomach was empty for a couple of days. I have quite bad insomnia now as well. Trying to combat that but it's hard, I wake up at 5 in the morning thinking I'm dying.

      I think you're right and I need tests to get a bit of piece of mind, though if they don't find anything wrong then what the hell is going on? Not that I want them to find anything wrong either but I just feel a bit lost just now. Never fell this ill, physically or mentally, in my life.

      I did notice loads of people took antibiotics which triggered their symptoms. I've been talking to a few folk who didn't have any of this until they took antibiotics. I'm trying to repair my gut, it just seems to be taking ages, and I am so so scared that I don't have as much of an appetite.

    • Posted

      You need to bear in mind that ppi's are very strong. They cut out approx 80% of acid production. This may be why you feel full and like food isn't digesting. If you have an H pylori infection then ppi's can make it worse as the infection will spread quicker (it did for me). Only once I got rid of my infection did I feel

      Able to tolerate ppi's.

      Zantac is less strong but easier to tolerate.

      If you do have h pylori then you will prob need to take antibiotics again (strong ones). You can cure it naturally but it takes longer, is more expensive and also not as reliable. Triple

      Therapy is usually 80% effective if done properly.

      If you haven't got h pylori then you won't need antibiotics. Just need to sort your diet out and reduce stress. And then allow time for your stomach to heal. This isn't a quick fix. It takes time.

    • Posted

      Don't be afraid to run the necessary tests.

      Tests reveal hidden food allergies, hidden bacteria etc.. which are often the issue.

      Chances are, you're having terrible symptoms but no life threatening underlying cause. I have gone through every symptom you have mentioned. My case started back in 2011, and after going through 4/5 doctors in about 4 years or so, I started to realize that I was making things worst for myself by panicking and creating more stress on myself. Because my tests were normal. But matching my symptoms with my test results was unreal at that time. You have to realize that you're not dying, and start living again. I'm not big on taking meds. Doctors will tell you to take all kinds of acid meds just to relieve symptoms, but that doesn't deal with the underlying cause. I personally believe that lifestyle changes will be very helpful. But you must strictly follow it for a while before you notice improvements. Manage stress, exercise, eat healthy home cooked food, buy organic if you will. Then take probiotics, take necessary vitamins and good digestive enzymes to help you properly digest food for the mean time. Keep it up strictly for at least 5 months and you will be better.

    • Posted


      I don't know how you managed to go like that for 4 years. I can barely function just now, but I'm a fighter and don't want to give up either. It's hellish. I feel like my symptoms have got dramatically worse in the past 2 weeks which is why I'm so concerned now. They were coming and going but have been particularly bad in the past fortnight and my appetite abruptly left me. Even when I feel hungry I get full really quickly. Did you suffer from that?

      I will try and eat more clean but eating food has become a huge issue for me. This is heartbreaking because I love food so much and before all this started had a great appetite. I have always had anxiety but nothing like this.

    • Posted

      Yes I did, it's called early satiety. When it got too bad I would eat small portions many times throughout the day. I got better recently when I started taking a list of vitamins (separately; Not in multivitamin form) I take vitamin A, magnesium, prescription vitamin D, Zinc. And also probiotics. my appetite improved ever since I started to take them. I also take digestive enzymes with every meal. And also I monitor what I eat and eliminate whatever brings me unpleasant symptoms. I will strictly keep it up till I won't need to anymore. Lord knows when I'm hundred percent better I will NEVER take Antibiotics again. I'm so certain that all this was caused by antibiotics.

    • Posted

      Hey Eddy. Aw man, that's a relief that someone else has experienced that since it's the latest symptom I'm worried about. I think food just comes with such anxiety as well now which doesn't help. I felt really sick this morning coupled with a tight throat and heartburn. It felt like I hadn't digested food properly in my stomach last night, and I ate well and healthy! I started eating bigger portions again so I don't know if it's that but when my anxiety doesn't keep me awake at night my stomach ends up doing it. Living in a nightmare just now, trying to weather the storm. I hope this is a part of my life I can put behind me soon!

      That's interesting about the probiotics - they do help me as well. Acidophilus balanced my bowels at first when I stopped antibiotics. It's really only my stomach now, I don't (thankfully) have any lower bowel symptoms. I have magnesium in the house - I'll get on that as well!

      I'm glad you're feeling a lot better than when you initially started in this mess. I have still to wait for the h pylori result but I will only take antibotics to shift that if that's what this period of my life turns out to be. If it's negative I will no doubt be concerned but will need to power on with a referral and like you, will have to literally be in dire straits before I would take antibiotics again. Terrifying how much my life has changed. I don't feel in charge of it anymore.

  • Posted

    MJ, you have had a terrible time. Your anxiety may be your body talking to so that you make big changes and get healthy again. Listen to it!. Sometimes (grazing is helpful.) Small meals several times a day. You can use the internet to look up side effects of medicines. Also, there are sites that give possible diagnose depending on symptoms. You now have to become a warrior and move forward relentlessly to achieve your goals! You can do this MJ. Sounds like a lifestyle change will be of benefit, i.e., when I worked I put off comfort visits to restrooms to keep on getting more and more done. Bladder infections are the result. Over work, over worry take their toll! Control your work environment etc. you control your life, your body and decisions! Good luck and give yourself permission to do what needs to be done.
    • Posted

      Hi, thanks for the support! I'm trying to keep going just now but it's tough. I think I would feel better if I knew for sure what was causing my acid reflux since I don't know if a decresing appetite is normal with those symptoms of the disease! But I am very stressed just now, and I wonder if that's affecting my appetite? I'm going round in circles just now, it's awful. I need things confirmed so I can look at ways of coping but I would love to know there would be an end limit to this.

  • Posted

    I had a whole host of symptoms initially. Started with bloating after meals and when at it's worst I had pain, acid reflux, IBS, extreme weight loss, constipation, food intolerances. Although I never vomited which was strange.

    My h pylori infection was missed intially and docs thought I had pancreas issues (which I didn't). The infection was only discovered about 10 months later after a second endoscopy - by that time it had torn my stomach to bits.

    I'm much better now though. I took the triple therapy antibiotics (which, like eddy says, are harsh in themselves and can cause issues). Luckily I took strong probiotics whilst on the triple therapy and took them after so I replaced my gut bacteria with good. I had my infection confirmed by stool sample as eradicated and then I stayed on ppi and diet for about 3 months. Then I slowly weened off them - don't come off cold turkey!

    Now I just take a couple of supplements and probtiocs and feel good. Still don't go daft with diet but I've put weight back on and feel good.

    Stress is a killer, control it with mind techniques and exercise. Even a gentle walk is better than nothing !

    My appetite didn't really change much, but if I had a flare up I would lose my appetite for a few hours till it died down.

    Endoscopies aren't that bad, but worth the discomfort for peace of mind and a diagnosis.

    It will confirm or negate gastritis and ulcers. Stool

    Sample is best for h pylori As isn't invasive and quite accurate.

    • Posted

      Hey Paul,

      your message makes me hopeful that I can get back to normal. I am also concerned that I felt a bit queasy and off at teh start of the year, though that was more lower bowel symptoms. They all cleared up - that's the only part of me that's working at the moment! Grateful for that!

      I'm starting to feel a bit weak and tird but I can't eat properly and I can't sleep with all this going on, so I'm trying to attribute it to that and not me wasting away.

      It's really encouraging that you made a good recovery. I do think I need to get things ruled out, but I don't know if I can live like this. I can't figure out if it's stress contributing hugely to this because I've been stressed with the varying symptoms for so long it's hard to tell. It feels like my body is shutting down. I've never felt as bad as this and it's terrifying.

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