Indigestion/acid reflux - when to see GP?

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Hi there

I'm female. 65 and overweight. The past week or so I have had gas and/or heartburn on and off most days which worsens when I have had a proper meal. OTC antacids don't seem to help much.

No pain - except for sometimes feeling as if I have a boulder on my midriff.

A couple of nights ago I brought up a lot of stomach acid and felt sick. It scared me enough to make me change my ways. I have cut out alcohol, am eating a better diet and I no longer slob on the couch in the evening.

The thing is I moved house recently and still need to register with a new practice. I don't really want to present immediately with a health problem. I just wondered how long to give it for any lifestyle changes to kick in.  Did anyone see there GP with similar and were tests done straightaway or were you just sent home to shape up and if so how long were you given to try before further investigations? I don't want to present with something minor but am concerned that there might be a serious cause.

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Chris. I've had similar problems on and off for years now. I was advised to lose weight, get more exercise like walking and cut down on fats and sugars. I did have some tests which showed what the gastro doc said was a 'dodgy' valve causing acid reflux. This would give you the symptoms you describe. In my opinion you should see your GP when you've registered at a new practice, sooner rather than later. They can prescribe medication to help you, if that helps then maybe you would be referred to a consultant in gastroenterology. I would think it's not serious unless you vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds, or pass blood in your stools, in that case it will be urgent so call 111 for advice. Best wishes, Ellie UK
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  • Posted

    Thank you.

    i'm totally confused by what I've read on the net - ie that the valve thing might be caused by too little acid as opposed to too much acid in which case you don't want to supppress it too much. In fact it seems some people take extra acid for the same symptoms. Whatever - would rather try and avoid prescribed medication if I can. Have read about liquorice and other remedies but best not muddy the water by taking supplements before getting seen. Maybe it's the get fit wake up call I need...

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  • Posted

    Hi Chris,

    The advice is simple. If you have been experiencing acid reflux most days for 3 weeks or more you should see your doctor.

    Your reflux is due to a malfunctioning Lower Oesophageal Sphincter. The usual culprit is a hiatus hernia which may be axacerbated by being overweight.

    If that reflux is carrying stomach acid it will attack your oesophagus. If it also carries bile, the acid could start "digesting" your oesophagus. To protect itself, some of the normal (squamous) cells lining it may be replaced with different (columnar) cells - a condition known as "Barrett's Oesophagus".

    The problem is these cells have the ability to mutate to cancer.

    If you wait until cancer is diagnosed, it's too late with prognosis typically a few weeks. Barrett's, however, can be managed and treated to prevent cancer developing.

    Go to the www DownWithAcid org uk site to learn more.

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    • Posted

      Thanks B that was very helpful.

      Weirdly I just got an email from an old friend in her 50s who is going through the same thing. She went after just a week of symptoms. They have done some tests and have ruled out a hiatus hernia.  The GP said it was an age thing. She was given some meds to see how she goes and advised to cut down on fat, cut out alcohol, eat smaller meals and have the main meal earlier. She says she is still not right and may go back to the GP (she admits to being lax over Christmas)

      Cheers

      I will send her the link and encourage her to persist.

      Cheers 

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    • Posted

      The advice your friend's GP gave is good but it mustn't be just dismissed as an "age thing". Mid 50's is the age when Barrett's is most likely to be diagnosed - but, because it's more prevalent in men, some doctors are resistant to sending women to gastroenterologists! 
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    • Posted

      Hi chris2

      Dont be afraid to present with a problem to your new gp that is what they are there for. A gp will not think anything whether the prob is major or minor. A minor problem can lead to a major problem if not dealt with early.

      Have you been tested for H Pylori this tiny bacteria which lives in the stomach and duodenum can cause dreadful acid reflux. You can be tested via stool test or breath test. If you do test positive for it, it can be eradicated with antibiotics.

      Go to your new gp and ask for a test. You never know it could be that HP is causing your problem..best wishes for a speedy diagnosis.......

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    • Posted

      Thanks everyone. I guess I was worried about presenting as some  hypochondriac patient to a new GP that doesn't know me.. 

      Will register at the new practice on Monday.x

       

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  • Posted

    Good for you Chris. Definitely the best thing to do. As you will have a new GP he/she

     will probably need all your history including current problems. He/she should not mind you presenting with this on a first appointment either. They're there for everyone after all. Best wishes. Ellie UK

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