Reflux, Diet, and Anxiety

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Good day one and all 😃

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. 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. 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
  • 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 issue 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 but also kind of sad about giving them up completely. I dont want to do anything to give myself Barretts or worse. I also dont 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 certain 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!

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    hi , im james from philippines those symptoms you had are the same as mine, i eat food that cause gerd. yup energy that cause you acid reflux, ranitidine works for me though i usually use i when symptoms occur 150 mg 1 time a day for a week before meal to prevent symptoms, dont worry it is not a cancer and even you die its okay we all gonna die, just pray,. btw im dealing anxiety and gerd almost 2 yrs god help me , dont be scared to death man! haha its okay!!

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  • Posted

    How are you doing pal

    you have just described my whole 2018 year

    i have had exactly the same as you .

    i had the 24 ph study done and manometry test

    and i am a candidate for SURGERY

    so that swhat i am going to do i dont want to be on ppis long term

    was your sleep affected

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    • Posted

      Hey there 😃

      So geez, they took one look at you and decided on surgery? You must have a rather large hiatal hernia then?

      And no, my sleep has not been affected much at all, so long as one does not mind sleeping in a chair lol. I have never felt the typical "nighttime heartburn" .... or any heartburn, for that matter.

      If you don't mind me asking, did they perform an endoscopy on you? What were the results? Did all your symptoms suddenly appear?

      Cheers!

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    • Posted

      Hi pal

      My symptoms appeared all of a sudden ,i had an endoscopy done which showed inflammation of the food pipe ,due too hyper acidity and long standing acid reflux,the food pipe cell lining in places had changed to mimic the intestinal lining ,which is not good .But its crazy as before i never really had heart burn .

      So my option are long term PPI use which i dont fancy.

      So i had a swalllow test done in a clinic and then 24 HOUR PH STUDY .

      Which is horrible and my results showed high levels so i am a candidate for Laroscopic Nissen Fundoplication .

      What is your plan mate .

      Mike

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    • Posted

      That is really something. What was your doctor's explanation for how someone who never experienced heartburn or LPR symptoms suddenly had severe symptoms AND changes in the esophagus?

      As far as my plan, my GI doctor says my 2cm hiatal hernia is not large enough to operate on and I have been put on PPI's and have made all the typical lifestyle modifications. I have not had a PH study or a swallow test done, as you have. It is likely that if I show little improvement, my GI may look into those tests.

      We will see!

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  • Posted

    Just chiming in to tell you I dealt with a LOT of similar symptoms starting in January of this year. I was also pretty fit -- 6'1" and 210 pounds, frequently in the gym. I also got sick and developed a horrible cough that wouldn't go away. That morphed into the throat pain, difficulty swallowing, and eventually chest and lower GI symptoms. I tried a few diets and supplements but have settled on a low carb diet very similar to keto since March. The first book I read on the topic was "Dropping Acid," and while it helped my throat it didn't help anything else. I then read "Fast Tract Diet" and that approach has improved my symptoms a TON. I also focused on my stress a lot which is huge I believe. I read another great book called "Healthy Gut, Health You" as well. I wouldn't say I'm "healed" (and not sure my life will go back to being exactly the same as before), but I feel way, way better. My throat stuff disappeared in a couple weeks on the diet and my stomach and other symptoms have gotten better each month. I'm a lot more optimistic than I was before! I believe sticking to real foods like meat, cheese, dairy, and leafy greens is helping me a ton. I didn't eat a lot of junk, but almost everything from a store that you don't cook yourself is super processed -- including bread and "health" foods. Anyway, good luck on your journey!

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