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Offline Daxter

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Really sorry, more questions :(
« on: December 31, 2013, 09:24:22 AM »
I'm sorry about the number of similar posts I've been making here lately. Reflux has really played havoc with my daily life; it's constantly on my mind as soon as I wake up, and I've been struggling to get a handle on it as my thoughts have become progressively darker. I'm posting on forums like these more often, (no offense!) and cry every week. How am I expected to face 60+ more years of life like this? People keep saying it's all in my head, and because of getting 5 negative (and 1 positive) spit test samples, I keep trying to think it is. It really hurts to be told it's "all in my head" and that I'm "faking it for attention." Today however I figured out some reasons why my reflux flares up sometimes. I think so anyway, but I need some help about it. Hang in there, I've got a lot to say...

First, I considered my diet. What's weird is that sometimes I can eat things you can easily say are bad for reflux. Angel Cake and Swiss Roll are notable examples. I ate some before Chrimbo and experienced no burning, and only a little more burping probably because of their airy texture/filling. That felt good, and it seemed like I was improving at last. A few days later, all I ate was a bread salt-pretzel, lettuce a banana and a glass of water and my throat was aflame. At the time I was sat enjoying myself with my best friend and for once reflux wasn't on my mind so much. One day in the same week, I felt so bad I only ate bread and chicken soup (with as little "cream of" as possible) and washed it down with skimmed milk (0.5% fat). It was like a wildfire in my esophagus, and every belch made it worse. I kept wondering why the whole time, until I looked back and considered what I was doing.

In the 2nd and 3rd examples, I was sitting down. I was switching between sitting back or leaning slightly forwards, but never enough to be too far hunched over or too far back like reclining or lying down. I still had both feet on the floor, so there wasn't much pressure on my ribcage/stomach, but I still think it's significant. If I sit like that anywhere at all - in a car, at a computer, at work - I sometimes get the burning, forced burping or at least the feeling of what I last ate/drank in my throat. Even if I didn't eat or drink anything, or if I follow the Kouffman reflux diet, it still happens. Standing up at work all day doesn't cause me symptoms very often, even if I bend over to pick something up, or feel anxious thinking about my reflux ordeals.

But it's far from consistent. Today, I experimented to see if I could force the burning sensation by hunching over on purpose and occasionally pressing my knees up to my ribcage. At one point, I couldn't get anything to happen until I stood up, THEN the burning occurred. My throat felt sore too, so I took a mini-jar of honey. The burning only occurred when I was standing, and disappeared when I sat down. Weird. On the other hand, yesterday I was offered a small slice of birthday cake at a party. Depressed by how I'd missed out on all my favourite foods anyway, I tried it thinking the Mirtazapine would stop the burning. Incorrect..! Sitting down, or a while after standing up made me burn. Once I got rid of the burning by simply tilting my head down (without moving the rest of my body) to look at a book. Confused yet? XP

Furthermore I've been monitoring my fluid intake to see if that affects anything. If I drink less than 1.5L of water or milk a day (the expected amount in the average lad of 22) I experience more burning burps and sore throats. If I drink more than 1.5L, I get more burping, but less burning unless it's been a while since I last had a swig of water.

Sorry this has been a lot to consider. Here's one more thing. Last year, I was suffering from anxiety related to my heart. You see heart conditions tend to run in my family, and when my arm felt sharp pains and my chest felt tight, I thought for sure I was next. These symptoms tended to be posture-related too. I could be lying in bed and getting the pains, but as soon as I sat up in bed they would mostly vanish. I've proved beyond a shadow of a doubt my pains last year were stress related, and I'd like to think my symptoms this year are too.


So to summarise, here's a question. Is it possible for my reflux symptoms to still be caused by stress and anxiety, even if things like posture and some foods make them worse? Also, can something as simple as worrying about if I'll get symptoms or not cause hidden stress in any way? If at all possible, I'd like to avoid medications and surgery, but even if anxiety is causing my problems, does the posture-making-it-worse thing mean I'll have to get surgery anyway to keep it away?

Thank you for any help you can offer, and once again I apologise for either being bloody confusing or persistent! I really really REALLY hope anxiety is responsible, then I can cure it. I just can't face 60+ years of suffering like this, and watching everything I do and eat if it is real.
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Offline Natsab87

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2013, 10:25:59 AM »
I used to work for a Consultant Gastroenterologist and I can tell you that acid reflux is very commonly caused by anxiety and stress. Whilst working for him and not really realising I was anxious, I also developed acid and a feeling like something was crawling up my throat! I couldn't relate it to anything I was eating or positions etc. I just accepted that it was probably due to anxiety and once I stopped thinking about it, it went... because I started worrying about something else no doubt!

It sounds to me like you're focusing on it way too much and even moving yourself into different positions etc. Just TRY (I know it's impossible for us HA sufferers!) to relax and ignore it and I expect it will go on it's own. It may well be related to things you eat or positions you sit in etc but I guess you worrying is making it ten times worse. Even if it is reflux that isn't anxiety related, you could see a Gastroenterologist who would discover why and give you medication to stop it such as Lansoprazole. It's no major thing and it's very common.

Anxiety causes so many physical symptoms it's hard to believe they aren't real, caused by something major!
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Online vardnas

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 12:08:07 PM »
So to summarise, here's a question. Is it possible for my reflux symptoms to still be caused by stress and anxiety, even if things like posture and some foods make them worse?

YES.

Also, can something as simple as worrying about if I'll get symptoms or not cause hidden stress in any way?

DOUBLE YES.

Dax, I know this has been troubling you for quite some time, but I also think you've been getting the same answers from us time and again—but what are you doing with this information?

You are STRESSED about this. STRESSED. This is not "hidden," it's very obvious. You're fixated on this problem, and that fact alone is making it worse and worse.

I agree with Natsab—it would be best, though not easiest, for you to TRY and not fixate on your bodily sensations, no matter how unpleasant they are. But to constantly test and monitor and stand up and sit down and eat certain foods—this is the fuel for the engine of anxiety. Full stop.

I'd go further and recommend also that you A) seek help for your anxiety, and B) seek the guidance of a holistic nutritionist. Your problem is not so much the reflex as it is your fixation on it. This doesn't mean it's not real or all in your head! It just means that it's largely being driven BY your anxiety, so to get to the bottom of your anxiety will, over time, ease the burning.

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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

Offline Daxter

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2014, 09:42:50 AM »
So to summarise, here's a question. Is it possible for my reflux symptoms to still be caused by stress and anxiety, even if things like posture and some foods make them worse?

YES.

Also, can something as simple as worrying about if I'll get symptoms or not cause hidden stress in any way?

DOUBLE YES.

Dax, I know this has been troubling you for quite some time, but I also think you've been getting the same answers from us time and again—but what are you doing with this information?

You are STRESSED about this. STRESSED. This is not "hidden," it's very obvious. You're fixated on this problem, and that fact alone is making it worse and worse.

I agree with Natsab—it would be best, though not easiest, for you to TRY and not fixate on your bodily sensations, no matter how unpleasant they are. But to constantly test and monitor and stand up and sit down and eat certain foods—this is the fuel for the engine of anxiety. Full stop.

I'd go further and recommend also that you A) seek help for your anxiety, and B) seek the guidance of a holistic nutritionist. Your problem is not so much the reflex as it is your fixation on it. This doesn't mean it's not real or all in your head! It just means that it's largely being driven BY your anxiety, so to get to the bottom of your anxiety will, over time, ease the burning.

Thank you both for your responses. To answer the question at the start of this quote, I can often post here and feel a little relieved about my symptoms possibly being to do with anxiety, but then the symptoms either get much worse due to things like food or posture, or someone on a reflux-related forum says (and I quote) "You have reflux. Stop deluding yourself." Even Google Scholar isn't sure of itself on this one. Some literature says reflux is stress related, some say it isn't. The uncertainty of it all is what's killing me. If I could see through my throat to see what's going on, I'd be certain of what's happening to me in no time. :/
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Offline Hypo84

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2014, 09:49:01 AM »
Feeling of reflux CAN be caused by anxiety.

I've had gastroduodenitis in 2011. and doctors found Helico Bacter (cause of it) and Hiatal Hernia. I started taking therapy and symptoms wouldn't go away. Finally, 4 months later, doctor said it's only in my head, prescribed 3x0.5mg Clonopil (for anxiety) and symptoms were gone in days. So to repeat, yes, reflux feeling can certainly be caused by anxiety.

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Online vardnas

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2014, 10:52:40 AM »
Thank you both for your responses. To answer the question at the start of this quote, I can often post here and feel a little relieved about my symptoms possibly being to do with anxiety, but then the symptoms either get much worse due to things like food or posture, or someone on a reflux-related forum says (and I quote) "You have reflux. Stop deluding yourself." Even Google Scholar isn't sure of itself on this one. Some literature says reflux is stress related, some say it isn't. The uncertainty of it all is what's killing me. If I could see through my throat to see what's going on, I'd be certain of what's happening to me in no time. :/

Right, but uncertainty is what anxiety feeds off of—that's the hallmark desire of an anxious person—we just want to be CERTAIN. So, your "need" for certainty, and the things you're doing to try and get it, really IS just making it worse. Reassurance seeking in ANY form, be in posting here or a Google search, will keep your anxiety levels high, and probably also keep that reflux going. The bottom line is that you will not, under any circumstances, have complete reassurance, especially not through the avenues you're going down. What you need is LESS time spent trying to figure everything out, not more. Stop asking Google Scholar what it knows—guess what? Even if you read the most perfect, logical, reassuring sentence, you'd feel better for about a week, but then your reflux would probably get worse again and you'd have a return of your doubts—this is called negative reinforcement, and it's a pattern that you're essentially sucked yourself into.

In offering up a helpful alternative, I'd suggest you read this HA module—it'll give you a basis of understanding of hypochondria and it'll hopefully explain a bit more of what's going on. Again, seeking help for your anxiety, and getting off the certainty train, will take you much further than trying to ascertain what exactly is going on with your throat. I promise. Maybe that's not what you want to hear, but that's the reality of the situation.

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=53
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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

Offline Daxter

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2014, 09:12:51 AM »
Thank you both for your responses. To answer the question at the start of this quote, I can often post here and feel a little relieved about my symptoms possibly being to do with anxiety, but then the symptoms either get much worse due to things like food or posture, or someone on a reflux-related forum says (and I quote) "You have reflux. Stop deluding yourself." Even Google Scholar isn't sure of itself on this one. Some literature says reflux is stress related, some say it isn't. The uncertainty of it all is what's killing me. If I could see through my throat to see what's going on, I'd be certain of what's happening to me in no time. :/

Right, but uncertainty is what anxiety feeds off of—that's the hallmark desire of an anxious person—we just want to be CERTAIN. So, your "need" for certainty, and the things you're doing to try and get it, really IS just making it worse. Reassurance seeking in ANY form, be in posting here or a Google search, will keep your anxiety levels high, and probably also keep that reflux going. The bottom line is that you will not, under any circumstances, have complete reassurance, especially not through the avenues you're going down. What you need is LESS time spent trying to figure everything out, not more. Stop asking Google Scholar what it knows—guess what? Even if you read the most perfect, logical, reassuring sentence, you'd feel better for about a week, but then your reflux would probably get worse again and you'd have a return of your doubts—this is called negative reinforcement, and it's a pattern that you're essentially sucked yourself into.

In offering up a helpful alternative, I'd suggest you read this HA module—it'll give you a basis of understanding of hypochondria and it'll hopefully explain a bit more of what's going on. Again, seeking help for your anxiety, and getting off the certainty train, will take you much further than trying to ascertain what exactly is going on with your throat. I promise. Maybe that's not what you want to hear, but that's the reality of the situation.

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=53

I've taken a look at the link you provided for me. Actually I've seen this module before. During my months of CBT I got the exact same handouts. Unfortunatly they didn't seem to work on me, as my problems would often continue even after applying these techniques or on "happy" days, so I'm trying to look into other things. I'm not sure if Neuro-linguistic Programming is a valid avenue, or whether I can get it on the NHS?

It's just really tough to cope with this. Often what crosses my mind is that my symptoms are getting worse because of the fact I've had food, or because I'm leaning back in a chair rather than standing up straight, to name a couple of examples. When the output symptoms are linked to such specific inputs, it's hard to think stress can be causing them at all. Even slightly changing my position a little can either cause the symptoms to linger or remove them in seconds. :( I have a 24hour pH test coming up in March. The concept of shoving 2 tubes down my throat for a whole day already freaks me out, but I'm worried my symptoms may not be so bad on the day due to the specific diet sheet I have to follow.Therefore I'm worried I'll get false-negative results because I'm not eating "trigger" foods, even if I do choose the right body position for reflux to worsen in. If I do get false results, I'll never be able to figure out the reasoning behind my symptoms. Furthermore, I have to stop taking Mirtazapine before the test, because it may be having an anti-acid effect on me, and may be masking my symptoms just like a PPI/H2 Blocker. I'm petrified of this. As soon as I stop the tablets, I'm going to see just how bad my reflux REALLY is, and there won't be a damn thing I can do about it. I know because I forgot to take my tablets for a few days once, and I burned when I so much as belched or drank water. It hurt SO much, but it's what my body ACTUALLY feels like day to day. Nobody should have to live like that.

I was just at my mum's birthday party the other day, and thought I'd risk trying some birthday cake as it is one of my all-time favourite foods, and I've really missed it. Sadly, it set my throat aflame only 20 minutes later and nothing could stop it except Gaviscon Advance. I just don't want meds at all. I sound like a martyr for pain, but medication for life would only mask the symptoms and remind me I'm actually suffering from a chronic illness. So. Much. Evidence. It hurts to see everyone binging on junk food/drinks while I can barely eat bread and soup without feeling God-awful. If I can't fix this by the end of 2014, or if I rule out stress as the cause of my reflux, I'm determined to get surgery as I just can't cope for a possible 60+ years like this, assuming I even last until the end of 2014 anyway. Reflux itself won't kill me, but it plays havoc with my mind. Until I started getting it I never considered self-harm. Now I've found myself thinking about it almost weekly, but I don't have the courage to carry out any plans. Still, every time someone tells me I'm "trying to get false attention" or I'm "making it up for the fun of it" I consider carrying something out more and more. Why worry about the people who might miss me if they don't care what happens to me in my day-to-day life anyway?

I'm considering making an online diary of sorts, to demonstrate my thoughts across every day. I figured it would make good evidence for the future, whether I push for anxiety therapy or reflux surgery, it would show how horrible my life can be and how urgently I need assistance. Is this wise, or would remembering I have such a diary simply remind me I'm suffering from reflux and worsen my stress as a result?
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Online vardnas

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Re: Really sorry, more questions :(
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 11:46:53 AM »
Well, you definitely seem convinced with what's going on with you, so the last thing I'll say about this is that as anxious people, we love to focus on illnesses that are difficult to prove or difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. Why? Because it keeps the anxiety flowing. LPR sounds like its one of those diseases.

I don't doubt that you're having discomfort, and I'm not saying your anxiety is the sole source of your problems, but I do believe that the WAY you're dealing with it is not healthy and your anxiety needs to be addressed, whether it has any effect on your LPR or not. Furthermore, to pursue some form of anxiety treatment for a while and expect it to sort of "spot reduce" a certain symptom or set of symptoms is unrealistic. There is no quick fix, and if anything those series of modules is designed to help you UNDERSTAND how anxiety works in the body why fleeting attempts at treatment are not enough. Getting your anxiety down, DESPITE having symptoms, is key, so continuing to spend so much time obsessing over your possible LPR is counterproductive.
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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

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