I want to know if this is really acid reflux ... - IBS Network

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I want to know if this is really acid reflux or my heart.

Boateng profile image

Hi everyone!

For the past two years I have had chest pains, throat discomfort, hoarseness, feeling that I must concentrate on my breathing, feeling off balance (that's when I am walking it feels like if I don't hold something I may fall down eventhough i have never fallen), sweating, BP going up, some kind of sensation in my nerves (as if I am getting stroke eventhough I have not had one before, it is just my mind telling me that), weakness in my legs sometimes, pain radiating to my back, itching/sensation in ear

I always wake up in the middle of the night and that's it i can't sleep again! I have done ECG, cardiac enzyme test, CT Scan, MRI, Barium Meal Test and they all came out fine.

I don't experience any pain in my stomach or throat when i swallow food. There is no blood in my stool. I cough in the middle of the night sometimes but with no phlegm.

Sometimes I get a heavy white saliva from my throat. I also get one nose block all the time in the morning!

I have been on Nexium on and off. I have stopped taking all the known triggers of acid reflux.

My question is am I a typical candidate of acid reflux? I have gone to the emergency unit on numerous occasions and all the time, ECG, cardiac enzyme test will be conducted but the results will say not your heart. My GP thinks I am overly worried.

I want to know if this is really acid reflux or my heart? It is the heart attack I am overly worried about.

If it is reflux I will learn to live with it.

Has anyone experienced this or I am alone.

I am a worried man!

12 Replies

Hi there! I have a small hiatus hernia and can identify with a lot of those symptoms. When I was first diagnosed, I was put on Omeprazole - it reduces the production of stomach acid. Within a couple of days, the heartburn and pain in the chest had gone. But I also have found ways to manage it. Apparently most people's stomachs are sort of horizontal to the ground so if you lie on your left side, the bottom of your tum, is pointing downwards - apologies for not explaining this too well. So I have found that only sleeping on my left side keeps the stomach contents in there rather than flowing out into the oesophagus. I try to eat smaller meals and avoid eating late at night. I chew a Gaviscon Advance tablet just before going to bed and if I'm going to be doing anything that involves bending over like gardening and some housework. By doing this, I rarely take the Omeprazole now. Just use it for a week or two if I have a flare up.

I also used to have a lot of hoarseness especially first thing, which I put down to my asthma inhaler. But my doctor told me about silent reflux. I don't get heartburn any more but it seems that the acid is still sneaking up the oesophagus and damaging the vocal cords. This is why I take the Gaviscon because it helps to prevent that and if the hoarseness gets bad, I take Omeprazole for a couple of weeks. Worrying of course causes you to produce more acid so it will exacerbate all your symptoms. Given that you have been reassured so often that the problem isn't your heart, I would urge you to accept that and instead look at ways to address the reflux and try the measures for a couple of weeks. Make sure you get Gaviscon Advance. You can buy a tub of 60 in the chemist which is the cheapest. Let me know how you get on 😊

Boateng profile image
Boateng in reply to ChubbieChops

Thank you

Lancs65 profile image
Lancs65 in reply to ChubbieChops

Hi just wanted to say you've made me feel better too!! I've had this problem all my life due to a hiatus hernia but recently with all trouble with covid it's been worse as I've been comfort eating you've reminded me why we get the reflux and how to handle it - really many thanks

ChubbieChops profile image
ChubbieChops in reply to Lancs65

That's great - really pleased you found my post helpful :)

Anxiety can cause a lot of this. You stress your self to the point your body starts to feel sick. I have Harry acid reflux. To the point if I burp I throw up acid sometimes. I reflux has made me feel like I was having a heart attack before. Do you smoke that could cause the hoarseness.

Boateng profile image
Boateng in reply to Shn12345

Thank you. I don't smoke or drink alcohol

I agree with Shn12345

that anxiety can cause a lot of weird symptoms. You have been through all the tests. If your doctor is saying your heart is fine your heart is fine. The more you think that this isn't the case, the more you are going to go around and around in circles in your head about it which will exacerbate the situation. Probably the first thing to do is to tackle your anxiety. You can be referred for this and I am sure that sessions will still be available online. There is also medication to consider, but non drug treatments are worth trying first, but might be useful in the short term whilst you are waiting.

In terms of GERD/acid reflux, here is some information that I have shared with others:

IBS and GERD often go hand in hand. Have you taken a look at the FODMAP diet? FODMAPs are carbohydrates found in some fruits and vegetables - there may be specific ones that are causing you problems- they enter your colon undigested, bacteria feed off them and create gas as a by product. This gas can build up pressure in your system and weaken the valve that sits between your stomach and your throat allowing stomach contents and acid to flow back. This is normally under the guidance of a nutritionist via GP referral - this may not be possible at the moment so you can read about it online. If you download the Monash University FODMAP app it will tell you which foods contain FODMAPs and in what quantities.You eliminate all FODMAPs for 2 weeks which should help to alleviate symptoms and then introduce them in small amounts one by one for 3 days and then wait up to 4 days for symptoms. I go much slower than this - only introducing a small amount of the same food for 3 days and then increase if tolerable or no symptoms and cut back to the previous amount if symptoms for longer and then increase again. I've read your microbiome can adapt to handling a new food if introduced very slowly.

I have been on Alflorex probiotic (scientifically studied for IBS and available on a free 2 month trial on joining theibsnetwork.org) and my stomach is more settled and I am able to tolerate more foods - you could give this a go prior to doing an elimination diet. If you have a bit of overgrowth of bad bugs in your gut (we all have good and bad bacteria - the good should have the upper hand), these can feed off FODMAPs and give symptoms such as pain. Probiotics like Alflorex can bring things back in balance. I have heard Symprove works for some people too.

You can also raise the head of your bed by 20cm using sturdy plastic bed risers found on the internet or a bed wedge pillow to keep the contents of your stomach there overnight (though in time the pillow put pressure on my hips).

There are some theories that GERD is due to low stomach acid. My gastroenterlogist refuted this. I have tried Betaine HCL and apple cider vinegar separately to compensate but these just made my pain worse. It can be done as a test to see how you get on but maybe not pin your hopes on it.

Stress is a factor. I've read scientific papers that say that stress doesn't increase the amount of acid in the stomach, but makes the nerve endings in your throat more sensitive to a normal level of acid and cause pain. This type of pain also exists with IBS - where the brain erroneously picks up normal activity of the bowel as pain. This is where nerve pain agents come in.

Boateng profile image
Boateng in reply to xjrs

Thank you so much for the elaborate help. I will try and read on the Fodmap as I am in Ghana, Africa.

ER gives a little ‘test’ to find out if your chest pain is GERD related or cardiac related. They give you a drink with Mylanta, vicious lidocaine and anticholegeric medicine Donnatol or Bentyl. It is called a ‘GI cocktail’. Anyway drink that and if Pain stops, it was GI related. If pain continues, go to ER!

Boateng profile image
Boateng in reply to KosherDill

Great suggestion. Thank you

Sometimes it's hard to catch irregular heartbeats or afib unless it's happening at the time. For me it has been caught several times now and also tachycardia when in severe pain. That's happened and been documented at least 3 times this week. You could do with speaking to your doctor about how you feel. There are simple blood tests that can identify if you're low or high in certain vitamins of minerals to cause some cardiac irregularities. Mine I think was caused by being low in folate. I've now been referred to cardiology to monitor. Not sure when that will be but at least I have a referral. Personally I think I have some malabsorption issues but things are now showing in areas outside my gut. I think I'm aging fast. My hair is more grey and thinner. I'm 48 but this week I've really struggled to do simple things. I've slept a lot this week as had quite a few sleepless nights with pain. I'm hoping it's just wind and it will pass and this flare up be over.

Anxiety also has a huge impact on our health and it's a vicious cycle. The more anxious you are, the more you over emphasize on the things that you feel aren't right and so it goes round and round until you end up in a bit of a frenzy, blood pressure through the roof headaches, sweating etc etc.

I hope you feel better soon but speak to your doctor. I can only comment on what I feel and what I experience, I'm not a doctor. Thankfully I don't suffer anxiety all I want to find out is why I have the problems i have and no one can tell me that. Diagnosed IBS d post infectious IBS

it is always the acid after any sickness! but is this pain of heart, a damaged heart now or only a gerd going astray?

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