Alcohol, stomach discomfort and long term health problems
I hope someone can help me with my strange permanent symptoms that i have had for the past 3 years.
I am a 33 year old male. From 18 to 30 years of age i would describe myself as a reasonably heavy social drinker, probably around 50 units a week. Despite this i always found that i rarely suffered from hangovers and it was not uncommon for me to go jogging the morning following a night on the booze to run off any slight hangover i may have had. I was actually quite fit, and when i was 30 ran two half marathons.
3 years ago i joined the police service. The training for this meant spending 15 weeks at a residential camp. There was little to do there, and everyone's routine was to spend the evening in the onsite bar. It was also extremely stressful. The food during the 15 weeks was terrible, poor quality canteen grub and not much of it. Every evening to relieve the boredom i would get fairly drunk, probably drinking around 6-7 pints of lager. Every morning was an early start, and i was frequently tired from spending so much time in the bar the night before that most days meant i drank around 5-6 cans of diet coke to keep me alert. Weekends we came home, but this meant seeing friends and socialising so i would go out drinking at weekends also. This meant over the 15 weeks, i probably did not miss an evening where i wasn't fairly drunk, ate rubbish food , drunk countless diet coke. Despite this i kept my fitness levels up and jogged every day.
This is where my problems started. Towards the end of this 15 weeks i woke up one morning and felt terrible. I was strangely out of breath doing simple things, just getting out of bed. I felt really rough, like i was really over exerted. It was the same sort of feeling i would get after a really long 2 hour jog or something, the same sense of exertion - but i hadn't done anything. I had a strange uncomfortable full fulling in my upper stomach. I was also having ectopic heart beats.
I went to a doctor that day i felt so bad, and he sent me for an immediate heart echo cardiogram at the hospital. This came back normal.
As i was leaving the camp a few days later to go home, my doctor recommended seeing my home gp.
Before i went home for good the last day of the training course meant a fitness test. I went to bed that evening and for the first time didn't go to the bar as i still felt rough. I thought in the morning i would feel ok. However, when i woke up i didn't. I felt exactly the same, easily out of breath, totally exerted and generally feeling under the weather.
I tried jogging this day, and it was bizarre. I just couldn't do it. I was out of breath bending down to put my trainers on.
Basically i returned home and over the course of the next year i must have been back to my GP around 20 times about the above problems. My ectopic beats settled down after a few weeks. My tests have involved an ultrasound on my stomach, ECG's, blood tests for everything as far as i know, i have been referred to the infectious diseases clinic, been put on Prozac (they thought it was all in my head).
I eventually gave up going to my GP, as he basically said there was nothing else they could test me for.
Three years on my symptoms are as follows:
1) I am not breathless anymore. I do jog now regularly but find it far more tiring than i ever did. Half an hour is my limit.
2) I have a permanent upper abdomen 'raw' feeling and always feel below par. I know this is vague but i find it difficult to be more specific.
3) if i drink alcohol now, i feel absolutely TERRIBLE for days after. Even if i drink small amounts i will feel rough for a couple of days, nauseous and totally drained of energy.
4) Some days my upper stomach pain feels much worse than offers. However it never seems to be related to hunger/no hunger, or what i have eaten.
My question is really, did my alcohol consumption cause permanent damage to some area of my body? Could it also have been related to my lifestyle at the time? Is it impossible to detect?
The reason i am posting this is because even 3 years on i remember that i used to feel a lot better than i do know in general day to day life. It's incredibly frustrating. I drink rarely now as i feel too ill when i do.
I have a very healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg. I have tried vitamins, milk thistle, various supplements, all to seemingly no affect.
Can anyone shed any light or what i might have done to myself and how on earth i could go forward?