Hey fellow reflux sufferers. I wanted to let you that I have been dealing with this problem for the last 10 months and wanted to share a little bit of my story and what I did to cure this problem- at least for now.
Let me state right off that my main problem was NOT heartburn, but LPR. As you know, the acid in this case comes all the way up into the throat and causes serious issues with being able to speak in a normal and strong voice.
Back in Sep on 2010, after eating way too much, as I sometimes do - I went to bed and then proceeded to have what I thought was a heart attack. My whole body shook and I had this severe pain in my mid back. I went to the ER and spent the night there. All tests came back negative and they told me to see my regular doc for a follow up. I don't blame the ER for not seeing the real problem for I figure they see mostly heart attacks and such and would never think I was having a reflux attack.
So I went to see my doc the next week and he told me to reduce fat and salt intake because my blood pressure was a little high (137/70). Well, I have what is called White-Coat High BP, but that's a story for another time. I weighed 205 at that time and have lost 25 lbs since, so I took his advice. He referred me to a heart specialist thinking also that maybe I had a heart attack. Funny thing is that while I was at his office I remember my throat felt very agitated and I did not mention it to my doc because I thought it was just a temporary throat congestion.
So I went to the heart center and the doc said everything looked ok. He was actually the one who mentioned that I have high BP only when in the docs office and said my heart rate was screaming. I told him its true, I get very nervous in the docs office. So anyway, since I exercise a lot he scheduled me for a treadmill heart test. I had this done and had no heart problems at all. I DO remember though that during this test my throat was burning with pain. I thought to myself, dang I really have to do something about this.
Well things got really bad the next weekend. We had people over and I could barely speak. My voice was very “hoarse” and not only that it was very weak in strength. I ended up going to the urgent care center about this and the doc said my voice sounded a little hoarse but he could not see anything. He said he does not have the ability to see very far and suggested I go see an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist.
Well I waited for as long as I could and one day I finally had enough. I called an ENT and was able to go in on the same day. He was a young and very good doc who took the time to listen to my whole story. He then left and came back in with this tube device that they put into your nose and then are able to see way into your throat using a camera. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but I got used to it. He diagnosed the problem as Acid Reflux and stated that this did not happen overnight. He said this was “30 yrs in the making”. He said he has seen worse, and on a 1 – 10 scale I was a 6 or 7.
So he told me to take an OTC PPI 20 minutes before dinner and if I must have coffee, to only have one cup and take it with a piece of bread. He wanted me to come back in 3 months and if the problem was not fixed then we would have to take things to the next step
. Whatever that is! I didn't ask.
I followed his advice and things seemed to get better at first, but then they really didn't. There were times several weeks after I started treatment where I still had a very weak voice and could barely keep things together. Three months went by and to be honest I thought I had this problem licked, so like all guys like me who are members of the “ignorance is bliss” club, I canceled the follow-up appointment. I was determined to try to fix this myself and decide to give things another few months before seeing the ENT again.
So at this point I really started doing more research online and if I ever see one more thread telling me to buy Apple Cider Vinegar I just might lose it. That stuff does nothing. I found some interesting suggestions, and eventually started to piece together a plan that I only implemented two weeks ago.
It was really my last try at this problem and I figured some type of “procedure” was in my future if this did not work. I know this has been a long post, and to be honest, it could be a lot longer if I explained all the things I have tried, so I will cut to the chase and tell you what I do every day now. Let me just say that as of this writing, my voice is deep and strong and I am so happy about it. I was on the phone yesterday helping a friend with their resume and my wife told me afterwards how good my voice sounded. Ok here we go:
Morning coffee, or lack there of: No more coffee. What I do is take two green tea bags and steep in boiling water for 5 minutes. Then I mix in some coffee substitute, cream and milk. This tastes very much like coffee, has a little bit of caffeine to get you going, but it is certainly NOT coffee. I use a substitute that has stuff like roasted barley in it. Very natural.
I don't really eat breakfast. I guess you could say that I combine breakfast and lunch, but anyway what I do about half hour before lunch is take 20mg of Omeprazole DR PPI. This is pretty standard PPI that you find OTC in Prilosec or its generic equivalent. For you guys, I know it's not easy, but try not to overeat. It is a constant battle for me so I understand. I had this habit of not being hungry, but then when I start eating its hard to stop.
For dinner do the same thing. Take another 20mg PPI at least half hour before. Try to eat dinner early if you can, but if you cant thats ok. Just make sure you give yourself a couple of hours after eating before laying down. Speaking of laying down, I try to prop myself up a bit in bed using pillows. I got used to it after a while and now I feel weird if I law down flat. The goal is to keep you chest area above you stomach a bit.
Right before bed take a Zantac 150mg or its equivalent. This is not a PPI but an “older school” acid reducer that is an H2 blocker. This idea is something I found in a message posting somewhere on the internet and I believe it may be the most important part of my process.
During the day: After each meal I brush my teeth and tongue with a toothpaste that contains baking soda. That should be enough of a hint as to what brand I use. I also keep a cup of water with a heavy mixture of Baking Soda in it and swish (not gargle) with this mixture several times a day. I spit it out but do not rinse my mouth with water afterwards. I tried to GARGLE several times a day with this I think it actually caused irritation in my throat so I stopped that. The baking soda rinse will kill bacteria in the mouth and raise the PH. Also the small amount of leftover seems to sooth the throat and raise the PH. This is kind of my theory on this stuff and to be honest, I started this Baking Soda idea as an attempt to control some mouth sores that I kept getting on the sides of my tongue. It has totally eliminated those. I do believe though that it is an important part of my reflux treatment.
Well, that about covers it. Disclaimer: If you want to follow what I do for yourself, please check with your doc first. The procedure I use works for me so far, but I have not been doing it for long, so I am not sure how long I will do this or if there will be a negative consequences for me if I continue. All I know is that is is the one thing that has helped me so far. The other thing I want to mention is that I have read of a new device that may gain some traction that is very non-evasive that will stop the acid from coming up. The point I am making here is that I think a lot of help is on the way and there may be many more treatment options for us in the future that will supplant having to take pills.
Thx for reading!