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GERD w/ Air Hunger!

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Old 08-04-2003, 11:24 PM   #1
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ericbrown HB User
Post GERD w/ Air Hunger!

I just wanted to post and keep you guys informed of what's going on with me (in hopes that somebody can relate and we can share info). For the last few months, I've been having spells with INTENSE air hunger (feelings of not getting enough air). My breathing is completely unrestricted (can breath in and out just fine); however, it feels that I can't get a deep fullfilling breath. Usually, this feeling comes and goes a few times a week... but lately I've had it just about ALL DAY EVERYDAY for the last two weeks. It's scaring the living crap out of me.

Anyhow, I went to the ER the other night and after a few tests and vitals, the physician told me that it could be either three things causing "my" problem... anxiety, GERD, or thyroid problems. I'm going in next week to get lab work done for a thyroid check. I've also had Panic Disorder for the last few years of my life; however, it's quite odd... these "breathless" feelings don't seem to come on at times of anxiety... but I could be wrong. Personally, I think it's GERD. I've been suffering TERRIBLE indigestion now for almost a year. Sometimes at night I fling up out of sleep coughing and vomiting my brains out because I just inhaled what feels like a gallon of reflux. Tums, Rolaids, etc. do absolutely nothing for me... and I don't have insurance to try "stronger" prescription type antacids, so I don't know if they would work.

During times of complete "air hunger" attacks, I sometimes get this discomfort feeling in my back between my shoulder blades. It doesn't last long, but none-the-less I think it's related. Nothing I do "helps" this breathlessness feeling. It's just as bad lying down as it is setting up. Belching, etc. doesn't seem to help much either! Every now and then, I'll get a good DEEP fullfilling breath, but that fullfillment feeling only lasts about 30 seconds before I'm in the vicious cycle again! I simply CAN NOT STAND this feeling... and am about to go nuts! It's VERY immobilizing and has me almost confined to my sofa or bed.

If any of you have any ideas or similar experiences, please... I'd like to hear them. Thanks...


Eric D. Brown
Eric D. Brown

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Old 08-05-2003, 03:32 PM   #2
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SomewhereInIdaho HB User

My husband started having problems getting his breath about 9 months ago while on a hunting trip, over the next few months it became so bad that he ended up in the cardiac care wing of out local hospital for an overnight stay. He had every test in the book done, heart tests, breathing tests, name it!! They tried him on inhalers, steroid inhalers, prednisone, all the asthma meds and allergy meds that you could think of!! Finally him pulmonary specialist suggested an endoscopy and sure enough his esophagus was in terrible shape from having 'silent' heartburn for years. It was so bad that the bronchial tubes were actually inflamed and that is what was causing his breathing problems. He was put on Nexium and has been on it for 3 months now with only minor problems breathing and that is usually when he forgets to take it. The doc said it will take months for him to heal the damage.
We were so worried when this started, we didn't know what to think was happening...and we were so realived to find out that it was something treatable!!
I don't remember if you have had a endoscopy but if you haven't I would highly recommend having it done ASAP because it sounds like you are experiencing exactly what my husband did.
If they do start you on Nexium, know that it took about 8 days before he noticed relief from the breathing trouble....

Take care and let me know what happens

Old 08-05-2003, 07:19 PM   #3
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ericbrown HB User

Thank you so much for that reply, I will follow up with my physician about the possibility! Thank God that your husband found the cause and is doing well! I'm hoping and praying my outcome will be as positive! Thanks again...


Eric D. Brown
Eric D. Brown

Old 08-05-2003, 09:07 PM   #4
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SuzyQPA2 HB User

You know one of the best prescription medications is being made as a non-prescription drug now. Prilosec.

Of course tums etc don't do anything. They aren't meant to deal with severe problems.

Over the counter medications that you may find useful but will have to take for a couple weeks before you see improvements are:

Pepcid AC and Pepcid AC complete.

Pepcid AC complete might help you out the first week since it includes an acid reducer and an antacid. Then you could drop to Pepcid AC.

There are several different types of medication
Acid reducers
Proton pump inhibitors - actually decrease the amount of acid your stomach produces.

Antacids attempt to deal with the overflow of acid in your stomach and are meant for occasional problems with indigestion.

Acid reducers are for people with mild - moderate digestion problems

Proton pump inhibitors are for people with moderate to severe chronic digestion problems.

You should get tested for H.Pylori, and all the other stuff too....because a lot of factors affect your stomach.

You could try eliminating known heartburn (GERD) offenders.....from your lifestyle and diet

1. Milk
2. Large Meals
3. Spicy or Fried Foods
4. High Fat Content meals
5. Acidic foods (oranges, tomatoes, do some research)
6. Stress

1. Soy & Rice milks and products
2. Low fat Steamed, baked or broiled meals.
3. Olive oil
4. smaller more frequent meals.
5. Yoga

[This message has been edited by SuzyQPA2 (edited 08-06-2003).]

Old 08-08-2003, 01:54 AM   #5
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ericbrown HB User

Thanks Suzy for your reply. Tonight for me (as well as yesterday) have just been BAD! The feeling is constant suffocation. My regular physician is out for two weeks recovering from surgery, so I have to WAIT that long to get a thyroid screening. I'm NOT going back to my local ER unless they roll me in (because it does no good anyhow). I live in a VERY small rural area, and the hospital here is little more than a joke. Locals say it's the place to go to DIE (which doesn't help matters much). Also, not too many other physicians here to help out.

I'm just tired of all the unanswered questions. Feels like nobody is out to help me! I goto the ER, they take vitals, etc. (no major tests) and throw me a $350+ bill! I can't keep going that route!

The fact that it lingers ALL DAY is scary, but now it's waking me up every 30 minutes to an hour! I know I'm not getting good sleep! If it's anxiety (as could be suggested by the ER physician), why would it keep waking me up? Also, I'm taking a small perscription of Klonopin which he wants me to try to see if it helps releive my "air hunger". It's not... just leaving me feeling droggy and heavy armed and footed all day and night!

I dunno guys... I'm about to go nuts here. The absolute feeling of suffocating ALL DAY long is taking it's toll on me. I know this is the "Digestive Disorders" area, and the reason for posting here is the possible GERD connection. So, I'm pretty much having to ride this one out and hoping the consequences doesn't take me away from my two beautiful kiddos and loving wife!

Never in my life, have I been so worried about something and SO frustrated at the medical side of it. I have no insurance, so I can't AFFORD to be taken for all these rides that the physicians keep giving me! What do I do?

I'm only 26... I shouldn't be having these problems! I don't smoke, drink, do drugs, etc. No wheezing, coughing, etc. Just AIR HUNGER... EXTREME! And now, I feel like I'm going to pass out all day long (which adds to the intense factor)!


Eric D. Brown
Eric D. Brown

Old 08-08-2003, 06:37 AM   #6
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NoleInOrlando HB User

I've gone through a similar situation 2 times in my life. Once about 3 years ago, and then just recently (just getting over now). Both times the feeling lasted about 1-2 months. The feeling for me was not getting enough air, and having to sigh/yawn to get a deep breath (which only happened periodically). It was very annoying, and very disturbing. I don't think it was quite as severe as what you're feeling, but along the same track. It was a persistent feeling, all day long. At its worst, I would border on hyperventilating because of the feeling of panic and suffocation. I had a Chest XRay, Barium swallow / Upper GI, pulse ox, EKG, Cardiac Stress Test, etc. and all came up negative. That made it even worse, as uncertainty often does.

My question is, is the "Shortness of Breath" the only symptom you have? I had a constant "tightness / pressure" in the upper abdomen (just below the Solar Plexus) all day. I also had a feeling of being unable to exhale completely without having to actively force the air out. This was in addition to the Reflux that I always suffer.

Here's what I discovered (and this is only my opinion, but one that I think may help you). The shortness of breath IS anxiety related to an extent. From some internet research (which again, may not be accurate - this wasn't a scientific survey I did), I discovered that people who often suffer these symptoms are also those who are more prone to claustrophobia - and suprise... I'm claustrophobic. Shortness of breath (if you are in fact getting enough 0xygen - which I was according to my Pulse ox) is a very relative feeling.

Now, that's not to say that your SOB is all in your head... I doubt that. Only that the feeling is exacerbated by those who are more prone to feeling suffocated - which makes it worse. Something must be causing the feeling to begin with (for me, it was a muscle/tendon injury from over zealous work outs which hindered the movement of my diaphragm in addition to the bloating I suffer from GERD. These all combined to cause my SOB) so don't think I'm telling you that you're imagining this whole thing. Until a cause is found, here are some things that REALLY helped me.

The first thing was to realize that I wasn't in any mortal danger (as was shown by the tests I underwent). That really helps. Secondly, I simply made myself realize that I was actually getting enough oxygen, so panic was illogical. I read up on "diaphragmatic" breathing (as opposed to "chest" breathing - which was the way I breathed). It helped a great deal. I just concentrated on relaxation. Eventually, the injury healed and I felt much better.

Shortness of breath can be symptomatic of ALOT of things, so make sure you're tested for the critical stuff (Heart/Lung/etc problems). If they come out normal, getting a hold of it from your mind will really help.

Old 08-08-2003, 02:32 PM   #7
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Location: Roselle Park, NJ
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Ginger9708 HB User

thanks for your response. I have been having LOTS of breathing difficulties lately. I was given Prevacid but wasnt taking it, but since your post decided to take it to see if this made a difference in me. In the past 5 days I have noticed a big change and been able to breath better. I too think that I had so much acid or eating at my esophagus that this may have been attributing to my breathlessness which does make sense. I tried a few times with the Prevacid but had bad affects of headache and stomachache so I would discontinue it after a day or two, but figured I had to stick it out this time or else I was only going to get worse, luckily your post made some sense. I am glad this worked for your husband and I am hoping this is the end of my problem.

Old 08-08-2003, 10:44 PM   #8
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jboon HB User


You may want to look in the Lung/Respiratory thread under air hunger. There are MANY people experiencing the same type of breathlessness as you. I've suffered from it on and off for 30 years. At times, it has lasted for several months without much of a reprieve. I have had all kinds of blood work and tests (x-ray, pulse ox levels, thyroid, pulminary function test, allergy testing, etc.), and though I have allergies, all other tests have been normal. The ONLY thing I've found that has helped (and I got this from the air hunger posts about a month ago)is relearning how and forcing myself to breathe properly, through my nose, instead of my mouth, ESPECIALLY when I feel the need to take a deep breath. This was tremendously hard to do at first, as I FELT as though I was holding my breath--but I didn't pass out, so I knew I was getting enough air. It took about a week to get my breathing pretty well under control. I do think it's probably anxiety related, even though I don't feel like I'm anxious or worried; I guess I unconsciously hold things in. I have been on Lexapro for several months--I assume that's helped some too, but I had been on Zoloft (same type of med) and it didn't seem to do much. Anyway, I know how frustrating the whole deal is, but try the breathing method and see if that helps any. Also, TRY to relax--if I've lived with it for 30 years, though highly annoying, it's not terminal.

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