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First off, I have gallstones and liver issues (elevated enzymes but no specific diagnosis), and I don't know if these conditions are affecting what I'm currently going through or not. I am a 29-year-old male, smoker, don't drink, slightly overweight.
About a year ago, I woke up one morning with a severe sore throat. Despite being a smoker, I almost never have a sore throat, so I assumed I had a cold. I had also just had dental work, so I thought maybe that had something to do with it. After a week, the sore throat was still there, but no further symptoms. And so my nightmare began.
I also noticed a taste in my mouth, sometimes sweet, sometimes metallic, and some degree of difficulty swallowing (mostly just an increased awareness of the swallowing process). After researching it (and due to my phobia and mild aversion of doctors), I concluded I had silent reflux. I tried taking Tums, and things got weird.
It was as if the pain in my throat were pushed downward. Now, I was feeling a burning pain in my back (right below the left shoulder blade) and in the stomach. My stomach also felt bloated and swollen like a balloon (my stomach, not my abdomen). In the coming months, I would add lump in the throat, excessive mucous, shortness of breath, post-nasal drip, and several other odd symptoms to my list.
Fast forward a year. I quit smoking. Lost weight. Cleaned up my few remaining bad habits--and in the process extinguished whatever joy I ever got from life. I eat like a rabbit and drink only water. And my issues still remain.
I took a course of Prilosec that actually got rid of some of the symptoms--that and a wedge pillow. The postnasal drip, lump in throat, and mucous are all, blessedly, gone. But the sore throat and back persist.
Here's what I'm hoping some of you can shed light on. When I sleep on my left side, the pain in back gets much worse--but I wake up with no taste of acid and no sore throat. When I sleep on the right side, the opposite. Relief from pain in back, but sore throat and taste of acid (it's always the left side of throat, by the way). Now, I've read that left side sleeping keeps acid out of the esophagus--and the taste of acid on right side supports this--but what the hell is hurting when I sleep on my left side? Could it be my stomach? Also, when the back pain is bad, it hurts somewhat to swallow--I can feel the food, or even drink, going over that spot below my left shoulder blade, and there is a twinge of pain. (Absurdly, it feels like my LES itself is having pain when it opens to allow food through. I have the same pain when I burp--I feel the gas build at this exact spot, then relief after I burp).
This swallowing back pain goes away if I consistently sleep on my right side. But one night of left side sleeping. . . This happened a few nights ago, and I woke up in fairly unpleasant pain. It's like reopening a wound. Every few weeks, tired of the throat discomfort, I'll get dumb and try left sleeping again. I'll wake up with a mercifully clear throat--and the unmanageable back pain.
I know I need to see a doctor. I have an appointment scheduled. But in my country, doctors and the medical establishment don't look kindly on people who aren't rich. I was told before, when I mentioned some chest pain I was having (this was well before my current symptoms), that I probably had GERD. That's it. No explanation, no prescription, no guidelines. And I'll probably have to raise a fit this time to even see a gastroenterologist. So I have little hope of being helped by anyone but myself and any of you who might have had similar experiences.
Here is what I've tried: Prilosec, Nexium, Tums, Gaviscon, baking soda, Lily of the Valley potion from Amazon, two different wedge pillows, daily 45 minute walk, ZERO acids in my diet (bland as bland can be) severe reduction of sugars and fats (already was on a low fat diet from gallstones), nothing to eat for at least 4 hours before sleeping, small meals, no caffeine (or any of the other common triggers), no smoking, no drinking, no drugs (a multivitamin that I've tried discontinuing but it doesn't seem to help or hurt). Switched my toothpaste and floss from mint to cinnamon. I try not to stress, but after quitting smoking I'm a ball of nerves and anxiety and no meditation in the world is lessening that.
I also seem to have an issue with protein. I've tried protein powder shakes as a method of getting protein--since my low fat diet make this difficult. These shakes make me feel extremely bloated and full for hours afterward--like my body can't process them. They are plant-based, not whey, and I drink them slowly, but to no avail.
Thank you to anyone who reads this and has any help or info or suggestions to impart.
One last thing, I know I did this to myself. Because of my elevated liver enzymes last year, I looked up things that healed the liver. The list, for anyone who cares to Google it, is almost verbatim the triggers of acid reflux. Very depressed, feel stupid and hopeless.
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