Hi all, I found this board doing a ****** search. Healthboards.com seems to be quite popular, with MILLIONS of postings so I figured this would be the best place for me to come for this problem and general health talk.
I first started experiencing acid reflux back in 2004. I am a 34 year old male and a smoker...I know I know, but I have managed to cut back about 3/4 of what I was smoking and I smoke outside only. I'm still working on becoming a non-smoker. Currently I'm on Zyban and soon will probably switch over to the patch. Anyways moving on...
Back in 2004 I noticed what felt to be a tiny lump, dot or whatever in the back of my throat. Whenever I would swallow I would feel it and the feeling seemd to be connected with my left ear...when I would swallow I would feel the 'lump' and then I would immediately feel 'pressure' in my left ear. It scared me, so I went to see a ENT. I was 'scoped' (not sure if I'm using the correct term here but 'scoping' means when they put that long, skinny tube up your nose and down the back of your throat to look at everything). I had no tumors or anything like that, the Dr. said that what I was experiencing was acid reflux. She said the reason why I was feeling the effect in my ear was because the ears have 'connections' with the back of the throat and sometimes you get a 'bouncing effect' from this. They told me to take Prilosec and told me that I really needed to work on my smoking problem (at this time I was smoking two packs a day)! The medication seemed to do the trick and I wouldn't have any problems for months at a time, then it would come back and I would either take Prilosec again or my regular Dr. gave me a prescription for Protonix, so I wouldn't have to pay out of pocket expenses for the Prilosec.
Anyways, in the fall of 2006 (last year), is when I really started to work on my smoking. I managed to cut back from 2 packs a day to 1 pack a day by smoking outside only. Now, I am between 1/2 a pack and a pack a day, still only smoking outside. BUT my acid reflux problem has gotten pretty bad, starting back in the fall of last year. I have had numerous 'scopes' by my ENT, they continue to say that the acid reflux is getting so bad that it has inflammed my vocal chords which is making the acid reflux even worse for me. My vocal chords are 'strained', there are certain pitches in my voice that I can't reach anymore (high pitches), I asked my ENT about this and he said it's because of the vocal chords being inflammed frorm the acid...but it is very scary! I keep trying to make myself believe that I have throat cancer, even though I know I don't. Now I am experiencing big knot like feelings in my throat, sometimes it feels like it's on one side of my throat, other times it feels like it's on the other side, or behind my adams apple, etc. I am now taking Protonix again, they wanted me to take Nexium but my insurance company won't pay for it, so they had to change the prescription to Protonix. The Protonix doesn't seem to be improving the problem at all, I go back for a check up with my ENT on April 14th! My most recent appointment was back in February of this year...this is when he prescribed me Nexium but then it had to be switched to Protonix because of insurance reasons. He also told me he wanted me to buy 'bed blocks' to raise the head of my bed 6-8 inches! I was like you are kidding, right? That is pretty high! All I can find in the stores are blocks that raise you anywhere from 3"-3 1/2". And my bed is a king size bed, I'm afraid if I raise it to high, it's going to be come unstable. Does anyone have experience with these things? For those of you who don't know, 'bed blocks' raise the head of your bed, so at night you sleep with your upper body facing up a hill...so to speak...to help keep the acid from creeping up into your throat while you sleep. I have yet to buy them...I know he is going to be ****** when I go back in in April!
Things I have noticed...
When I'm really suffering from the acid reflux, if I take a hot shower, it seems to REALLY subside the symptoms almost INSTANTLY! What I mean by this is the discomfort that acid reflux can cause, it virtually goes away (temporary of course).
I also take Xanax for anxiety problems. If my acid reflux is really causing me discomfort, if I take a Xanax pill, about 15-20 minutes later it's as if it's gone! Now Xanax is not a pain pill, so that is not why it's going away. Xanax calms you down, and what I think is happening is that I might be so worried about all of this, that I could sub-conciously be 'kicking up my reflux problem' that causes it to get worse almost instantly. So I think that the Xanax is helping me.
I have also noticed that if I'm feeling discomfort, and I go out for a walk or something (or just be active all together) instead of just being a couch potatoe, the discomfort also pretty much relieves itself in a short amout of time.
I am taking notes about all of these experiences to take into my ENT when I go in, come April.
I also experience a 'flare up' if I eat cheese! For instance, I went out lastnight to exercise and half way through exercising I noticed that my discomfort was once again almost all gone. When I got back home, I did somethings online, watched a bit of TV, etc. I then went out into the kitchen and got 2 slices of cheese, almost instantly after eating the cheese, my acid reflux started 'kicking in' big time! So I'm assuming dairy products are not good for people with this disease?
Anyways I try not to come onto the internet to discuss health problems because there is a lot of people online who try to self diagnose people, giving wrong information, etc, scaring the hell out of people. Not only that but I find myself Googling problems that I have and before you know it, I'm convinced I have this, that and that and I have worked myself up into a huge frenzy! So I try not to do this anymore, but at the same time, I felt it would be good for me to find a board online, where I could discuss my problems with other people who are having the same problems as I am, so I won't feel so alone in this.
Anyways back to the acid reflux, will I ever be able to get this under control or is this going to be a daily problem for me for the rest of my life? It scares me to have to live like this, it's very uncomfortable!
Anyways I look forward to discussing this problem that all of us seem to have here and I'm glad I found this site.
I know what you mean about Googling your symptoms, and then thinking you have everything you come accross. But let me tell you, posting your health problems on Healthboards is really an awesome thing to be able to do. It really helps to hear from others who are going through the same things. I too suffered from acid reflux for so long that I had burnt vocal cords as well and a burnt esophagus. Meds didn't do a thing for me, neither did diet changes, or anything else. So in January of this year, I had the Nissen Fundoplication surgery done. It was a tough surgery to go through, but man was it worth it!!! I have not had heartburn or reflux in 8 weeks! And I had been dealing with both for over 10 years, at least! My dr said it was basically down to the point were I needed the surgery, it was my only hope. Again, I am so glad I did it. And by the way, dairy can cause a ton of acid reflux problems. So that's probably why you got it right after eating the cheese. Anyway, hang in there with it, and hopefully you can find something that will help you out for the most part, and if you have any questions, I'm here for you! As is everyone else. Chances are any problem you're having, someone else on here has had it too...so we can all relate to one another.
You need to figure out what foods trigger your reflux and stay away from them. Dairy doesn't seem to bother me but I know it does for a lot of other people. But what you really need to do is change your lifestyle completely. Eat healthy, exercise, stop smoking. I know you know that already but don't do what I did for around 10 years, take my meds and eat healthy until my symptoms improve, then go back to my old lifestyle and suffer again for awhile and keep doing this back and forth. I now have Barrett's esophagus and if you think you get stressed thinking you may have something wrong just wait until a medical test confirms you actually DO have something. You will think 24hrs a day, why the F# didn't I take care of myself? While some may need surgery or maybe never get rid of it, the VAST majority people can control acid reflux with meds and diet/lifestyle changes. For me, I didn't even really need the meds at first. Just eating healthy alone got rid of my symptoms. If I had done that consistently, I doubt if I would be where I am now. You know what to do, do it. Good luck.
Hey- Your post is so familiar to me that I almost thought I wrote it! I am 33 y/o female having about the same probs as you!
I suffered postpardom anxiety after my daughter was born in Nov 2003 and have had probs with anxiety-mostly health related-ever since. I started taking Effexor which helped my anxiety a lot, but the acid reflux (I have LPR) is still haunting me. I take Nexium 40mg/day, but some days it doesn't help. I get the same throat feelings as you describe and it is scary thinking there is something else going on there. I had a gastroscopy back 2 years ago and the doc said their was some damage in my esophogus, but I just had my recall procedure this past Monday and he said it looks like it cleared up, but that my stomach is really inflammed from the acid. So he took some biopsys and said he would call within a week, so of course I have to sweat out the weekend wondering what the hell it is!
Anyway I hope you get some relief here. Sometimes just knowing that other people feel the same way as you relaxes your mind a bit - for me anyway.
WOW, you know, the body is one big balancing act, and I don't know how much you believe in psychology and holistic medicine, but it seems to me that your smoking and acid reflux are probably interrealted. It is clearly hard for you to quit, and they all say you replace on bad habit with another. So as you were approaching quitting, your ANXIETY probably went up (since you were losing the coping mechanism of smoking) therefore making the reflux go up.
You are 34, and seriously need to revamp your life. It is not easy, but if you get the anxiety under control by exercising, going to therapy, and taking meds, and so on, you may see that you can quit smoking, and the reflux may just go away... also, diet plays a HUGE role in anxiety. I know that if you don't eat healthy and eat crap, your brain doesn't work right.
You seem to say the doctors are blaming the vocal chord problems on the acid, but you SMOKE. That is like a person who smokes for 50 years blaming their wrinkles on too much SUN. You chords are already irritated from smoking, so the acid is just the icing on the cake (or shall we say the fuel to the fire).
It is all interralated, and you need to go for a holistic approach and change your diet for starters... not sure if you mentioned your diet, but I was able to manage acid reflux through diet and exercise (and yes, stay away from the cheese, I cut out all diary and ALL gluten....)
You have to be mentally ready for a huge lifestyle change, and it sounds like you are almost there.... but if you don't take a holistic approach and totally change your lifestyle by quitting smoking and seriously managing anxiety and your diet, nothing will change....
Actually my diet is fine, I have been low carbing for 3 years now, I don't eat junk. Yes, I'm sure the smoking has something to do with the vocal chords in a way, but he said it was primarly the acid that was causing the problem. When the reflux started back last fall, the vocal chord problem started within weeks of that. I'm not saying that smoking isn't helping the problem...I'm sure it is and I know that I need to become a non-smoker. It's hard when you have been smoking since you were 15 years old, it becomes a part of you. But I have come a LONG way since just a few months ago, it's just the last part of the smoking (going from 2 packs a day to what I smoke now) that I can't seem to stop doing now.
The Dr. ticks me off sometimes, you know he says "just stop"...kinda with an attitude! People who have never smoked always say that, they think it's that easy lol. If it was that easy everyone would "just stop"!
I hear you. I am sure you are doing a great job. My main concern for you was the anxiety piece. My acid problems are TOTALLY axiety related. Yes, diet too and there are trigger foods, but anxiety is such a huge piece. I do think that even if you are eating well and so on, anxiety can trigger it.
You say low carb, but the body has a really hard time digesting some diets. I know that I was doing a big time high fiber diet only to find out that gluten exacerbated my acid problems. You may find that certain carbs (not junk) may help it. It is so weird. Like dairy KILLS me, but my brother swears by a glass of milk to help his acid reflux... Sometimes too if you don't eat enough carbs your body has a hard time digesting protein. So it is really personal.
I had acid reflux SO bad one summer when I was 19 that is was burning my throat and vocal chords. I was eating a perfect diet of fish, veggies, fruit, no sugar, low carb. I was running so much. I soon realized that the excess mental pressure I was putting on myself to do all this perfect dieting and eating while also managing my parents household while they were away for the summer in Ireland was killing me. Once they got back and I backed off on the stress, the reflux went away!! But I remember that summer being in constant pain and having the doctor tell me that the acid was the problem. My voice was HORSE from it it was so bad. It was ALL stress related....
I had it come and go all my life (a little heartburn around finals or interview times) but it came back for "real" again this fall as I was buying a house...!! So there we go - my anxiety was through the ROOF..... I thought I was having a heart attack. Had I been 65, I would have sworn the pain was a heart attack.
Being married to a smoker of ten years that recently quit, I know how much ANXIETY surrounded his quitting. It is stressful: it means facing potential faliure, other people judging you, you judging yourself, it means convincing yourself and others that you are doing ok. It is stressful.. being a smoker and quitting is one of the most anxiety causing things in life. I used to be the "social" smoker and was never addicted and believe me, it was hard enough for ME to stop doing that let alone someone that smokes 2 packs a day!! The anxiety of quitting could be part of the cause of the Acid Reflux for you, you know?
I have some ideas for you. I'm just now feeling relief from my acid reflux. It all triggered in the fall and then peaked in January. I finally ended up in an urgent care place one Sunday because the acid was burning out my throat and chest. I even felt it in my back. I couldn't take a deep breath or sing to the radio while I was driving. I had a constant lump in my throat and felt that I knew what it would be like to be a cat with a hairball. Anyway, here's what I did to get relief:
I elevated my bed by placing a pillow between my mattress and boxspring and purchased a full, thick pillow to sleep on. Whatever you do, don't sleep on your back. It's best to sleep on your left side as much as possible (there is a clinical reason for this, but I can't remember it). Never go to bed on a full stomach, not even a light snack. When you eat, chew your food really well (digestion starts in the mouth). You can also try a digestive enzyme to speed up the digestion process. Take a probiotic like Acidophilus and Bifidus. Take the kind you have to keep in the refrigerator that has something like 8 billion microorganiisms. Don't ask me why this works, I just know that it fixes my stomach enzymes and intestinal flora and my acid doesn't feel like it's bubbling over. Drinking a lot of water and herbal tea helped me as well. I had to totally give up bread, pasta, and anything else that was the color white. I know you said that you have a low carb diet and that is good. I also gave up soda and coffee. I, too, took Xanax to calm me down. Anxiety really makes acid reflux much worse. In the beginning when I was really bad, I took a Nexium in the morning and an over the counter Tagamet at night. I keep water and Gaviscon on my nightstand when I notice a problem in the middle of the night.
I no longer have the lump in my throat, or the burning chest and back. I don't have to take the Tagamet before bed and haven't popped a Xanax or Gaviscon in 2 weeks. I hope to slowly wean myself off of the Nexium over the next 2 weeks.
good ideas - in addition to those you may wish to try adding more greens and fiber to your diet. i've laid off milk (not yogurt), yeast and gassy veggies like broccoli and cabbage. also celery, though some say celery helped them. i can eat raw tomatoes - go figure. i think alot of my problem was swallowed air bubbles.
Last edited by snowflake11; 03-26-2007 at 08:22 PM.
ok about 1 year ago I started feeling a lump in my throat so I went to my primary doctor and they referred me to a ENT doctor who told me I had a sensation of a lump in my throat from acid reflux...he put me on a acdi reflux medicine but I stopped taking it believing or thinking I didn't have Acid Reflux disease because I never felt acid coming back into my mouth...but I did feel the lump in throat...now just recently about 3 months ago I went on Risperdal for other reasons and that is when I started knowing a change in my voice the way I sound etc. I sound unlike me and horrible now...i can't sing no more and i sound raspy and it's hard for me to speak up now...etc. I was thinking maybe this is a side efect from the Risperdal...so I just waited it out until I was off the medicine and my problem didn't go away so I saw a ENT doctor again who told me I had inflammation in throat and it wad due to acid reflux and allergies...I hope his diagnosed me corretly...also my lump in throat sensation never went away...he now has me on Nexium for acid reflux and Nasacort for the allergies...started it today and saw the ENT specialist today....the weird thing is that went they used the anethetic spray in my nose it cleared or did something to my voice cuz I sounded like me again but it only lasted for about 10 minutes...can anybody tell me why that worked...? I was so happy in that moment and now it came back....I just want the way I used to sound back and get rid of that annoying lump in throat!!! Any info or help or anything would be appreciated...thanks