2

votes

Help with asthma / GERD issues

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 26, 2013 at 11:35 PM

OK, I know there are dozens of GERD questions on the site, and a few asthma-related ones as well, but nothing else I've tried has worked, so I figured I'd give this a shot.

In June, after about 18 months of eating Paleo, I started experiencing some troubling symptoms. It began as shortness of breath, or more specifically, the feeling that I was unable to take a full, deep breath. I had been under a lot of stress at the time and was dealing with some anxiety issues, to my GP chalked it up to that and prescribed Lexapro. Luckily, I declined to take it and opted for some cognitive behavioral therapy sessions instead.

Shortly after the shortness of breath came a feeling of pressure behind my sternum, a tight upper back, constant yawning, etc. These feelings, I noticed, were considerably worse after eating, but persisted throughout the day. The chest tightness also worsened during exercise.

I got checked out in all the expected ways, i.e. EKG, 24-hour heart monitor, treadmill stress test, blood work, thyroid check, cortisol check, etc. and everything came back normal. Again, my GP chalked it up to stress/anxiety and sent me on my way.

On my own accord I saw a breathing specialist and, after some testing, was diagnosed with asthma. I was put on two inhalers in November and told to take them regularly. After two months I was feeling a bit better, but nowhere near 100%. When I returned to the the breathing doc, my test scores with the inhalers had nearly doubled, which, he said, confirmed asthma. I was told to be patient re: not feeling 100%, that these things take time. I mentioned the reflux-like symptoms and he agreed there might be something there, so he (of course) sent me home with a prescription for a PPI (which I'm not taking).

Another month down the road and I'm feeling worse, not better. The chest pressure is pretty much constant all day, definitely worse after eating. I belch constantly, but it's not a typical burp, more of an air release. My throat feels tight and I taste acid on occasion in the back of my throat.

I called the gastroenterologist I saw awhile back when I was having some digestive issues (had an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy last year, which both came back clean), and his nurse practitioner immediately asked if I had tried Prilosec. I told her I haven't and don't plan to, and that I'd like to see the doc for an office visit. We'll see how that goes.

So...is this GERD causing breathing problems, or breathing problems causing GERD...or something else entirely?

Here's a diet sample, for those curious:

Breakfast - Two eggs cooked in coconut oil, goat's milk kefir, green tea with turmeric and ginger

Lunch - A salad usually, with either spinach or kale, salmon or tuna, half an avocado, cherry tomatoes, red onion, olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Dinner - Some form of protein, usually chicken or pork (parent's choice, not mine; I'd prefer more beef) and a roasted veggie, i.e. brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots

I'll typically have a few squares of 85% dark chocolate after lunch and dinner, and I regularly have chamomile tea before bed.


As far as supplements go, here's the current list:

400mg magnesium glycinate
4,000iu vitamin D
Fish oil
NOW Foods Super Enzymes (3 with each meal)
High potency probiotic (one before lunch and dinner)
Bos-Cur from Terry Naturally for the breathing issues (one per day).

Has anyone else had similar issues? I'm doing my best to keep exercising (four days of weights and one day of yoga every week), but the asthma makes it tough. And just when I feel like I'm making progress, things get worse.

I'm getting married in 16 months, and I'd love to be rid of this by the wedding.

Any advice you have is very much appreciated!

F78a046c14c35a2f78066b95f9fb0d3d

(0)

on November 26, 2013
at 10:27 AM

very helpful answers.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on March 06, 2013
at 04:41 PM

Just got back from the gastro doc. Visit went exactly as expected: was there for 10 minutes and walked out with a prescription for Protonix. I'm so frustrated I could scream. What did doctors do before prescription medications? Did they actually listen to and treat their patients? Amazing. He wants me on the Protonix for six weeks, and the crazy thing is I'm almost desperate enough to try it. I don't know how much longer I can deal with 24-7 chest pain/tightness and the anxiety/depression that comes with it. Help!

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:51 PM

with regards to the Betaine HCL supps, i read some anecdotes that the capsule form works better than the tablet form (so if you had tabs, you could always give the caps a try)

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:23 PM

with regards to was the Betaine HCL supps, i read some anecdotes that the capsule form works better than tablet form (so if you had tabs, you could always give the caps a try).

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:20 PM

with regards to was the Betaine HCL supps, were they in capsule form. i read some anecdotes that the capsule form works better than tablet form.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:17 PM

..some blurb i read on Swedish/digestive bitters, "In Europe Digestive Bitters are very popular for treating heartburn. These are bitter tasting herbs, usually sold in liquid form since they must come in to contact with the tongue to work. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. This in turn stimulates a nerve, known as the vagus nerve. This in turn increases the production of stomach acid, bile secretion and pancreatic enzyme secretion" http://curezone.org/forums/fm.asp?i=1480855#i

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:17 PM

there seems to be quite a few 'fixes' or remedies out there. The ones that i have seen mentioned often (& in a generally +ve light) are; Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diluted in water (have a google for usage). ACV tablet with a meal, more convenient than vinegar & no risk of 'burning' throat. Digestive Bitters (Swedish Bitters) liquid post meal. & become Zinc replete, try a zinc taste taste (zinc tally test) to check sufficiency.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:16 PM

..some blurb i read on Swedish/digestive bitters, "In Europe Digestive Bitters are very popular for treating heartburn. These are bitter tasting herbs, usually sold in liquid form since they must come in to contact with the tongue to work. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. This in turn stimulates a nerve, known as the vagus nerve. This in turn increases the production of stomach acid, bile secretion and pancreatic enzyme secretion" http://curezone.org/forums/fm.asp?i=1480855#i

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:15 PM

...some blurb i read on Swedish/digestive bitters, "In Europe Digestive Bitters are very popular for treating heartburn. These are bitter tasting herbs, usually sold in liquid form since they must come in to contact with the tongue to work. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. This in turn stimulates a nerve, known as the vagus nerve. This in turn increases the production of stomach acid, bile secretion and pancreatic enzyme secretion"

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:13 PM

there seems to be quite a few 'fixes' or remedies out there. The ones that i have seen mentioned often (& in a generally +ve light) are; Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diluted in water (have a google for usage). ACV tablet with a meal, more convenient than vinegar & no rick of 'burning' throat. Digestive Bitters (Swedish Bitters) liquid post meal. & become Zinc replete, try a zinc taste taste (zinc tally test) to check sufficiency.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 04:26 PM

I've done a little research on low stomach acid, yeah. That's why I was giving the enzymes a shot (they contain Betaine HCL, Pepsin, etc.). The highest number I got per meal was four, and I didn't feel any effects, so now I'm cutting them out to see if I notice a difference. What are some other remedies for hypochlorhydria besides supplementing with HCL?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 27, 2013
at 03:24 AM

8000 IUs in the winter/spring, 6,000 in the summer/fall.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:57 AM

Try to find a Mediterranean store, that's where I find it. Regarding fruits, there are fruits and starches that are allowed on Fodmaps.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:49 AM

Silly question re: the tea. I didn't read your link first. Wonder if I'll be able to find it here in the Midwest. Might have to go the online route...

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:45 AM

No car accident for me. However, I did move from the Midwest to New York city right out of college, and that was a huge stressor. I'm back in the Midwest again and stress is less, but that could definitely be a factor. I do see a chiropractor regularly (for adjustments, massages and electrical stimulation) and it's helped some. I'll ask about D3 levels next time I see the doc. How much do you take to get to 80ng/ml? I'm on 4,000iu a day now.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:43 AM

Interesting thought re: the apnea. I'll definitely ask my pulmonologist about it next time I see him. Thanks.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:42 AM

OK, I'll try cutting the enzymes and see how that goes. I heard they can help with GERD, but haven't noticed any real improvement on them. Interesting point about the starch. Not the first time I've heard that. I'll give it a go. Trying to stay away from FODMAPS so that'll limit the fruit, but we'll see. I don't make the goat kefir myself; I like Redwood Hill: http://www.redwoodhill.com/kefir Anywhere I can buy Greek Mountain Tea, or is it only available in homemade form? As for sleep, I sleep through the night, about eight hours. Not much outside time in this Midwest winter ;-)

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:39 AM

Back in the summer when I was having upper abdominal pain, they did scan my gallbladder and didn't find anything. That's also when they did the upper endoscopy and colonoscopy. The only thing those revealed was some "mild gastritis." The back pain isn't "pain" so much as tightness right along the upper spine.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 27, 2013
at 01:08 AM

Unfortunately once the pain kicks in almost everything can flare it up (that's how it happened for me anyway). I was so happy to get it out and go back to my high fat paleo ways! (although it took me 18 months to make that decision...)

Cfec3fb17e6d06f984ffedc2aae54920

(150)

on February 27, 2013
at 12:33 AM

I agree with both Eugenia & RK. Add more fruit or veggies/carbs (esp in AM - eggs are hard to digest). I had my GB removed a few yrs ago & was told that hi-animal fat/protein diet is a contributing factor to GB pain/attacks & low-animal fat diet is best in order to avoid them.

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6 Answers

1
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 27, 2013
at 01:11 AM

Given that your symptoms came on rather suddenly, I suspect some residual alignment issue from the stress (or did you happen to have a car accident?) A chiropractic/osteopathic adjustment could be helpful. I have read many stories of folks having GERD or asthma symptoms eliminated this way.

Interestingly, chiro is highly recommended by the midwives I know (I'm a pregnancy coach) for GERD in babies.

Get your D3 blood level checked. I have asthma and have to keep my level just above 80 ng/ml to alleviate all my asthma symptoms.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:45 AM

No car accident for me. However, I did move from the Midwest to New York city right out of college, and that was a huge stressor. I'm back in the Midwest again and stress is less, but that could definitely be a factor. I do see a chiropractor regularly (for adjustments, massages and electrical stimulation) and it's helped some. I'll ask about D3 levels next time I see the doc. How much do you take to get to 80ng/ml? I'm on 4,000iu a day now.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 27, 2013
at 03:24 AM

8000 IUs in the winter/spring, 6,000 in the summer/fall.

0
Ee67e388b171aaa12cc5074c9bf53270

(0)

on November 26, 2013
at 10:01 AM

It is estimated that more than 75% of patients with asthma also experience frequent heartburn from a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). People with asthma are twice as likely to have GERD as people who do not have asthma, especially those with treatment-resistant asthma.

GERD is the backward flow of acidic stomach content into the esophagus (acid reflux). Usually, stomach acid is kept in the stomach by a muscular ring at the bottom of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter. If this sphincter becomes relaxed, it can allow stomach contents to back up into the esophagus, producing a burning sensation that is commonly referred to as heartburn. GERD can irritate asthma and damage the esophagus. It is believed that asthma attacks can also cause the sphincter to relax, making it easier for acid reflux to occur.

more info:

Asthma medicine

F78a046c14c35a2f78066b95f9fb0d3d

(0)

on November 26, 2013
at 10:27 AM

very helpful answers.

0
543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 04:45 AM

Have you looked at low stomach acid (aka achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria), the symptoms seem to fit.

Just been looking in to this a bit myself. mineral absorption seems to be dependent on good stomach acidity levels.
& zinc seems to be particularly important in making stomach acid.
so it seems if you are deficient in zinc, you may also have low stomach acid...& vice versa (zinc is just one factor of many though).

may be check out the symptoms of both low stomach acid & zinc deficiency. & see what you think. be interested to hear if any of this fits/gels for you.

a few links:
low stomach acid symptoms and causes, wiki
Hydrochloric Acid Deficiency symptoms and info
Zinc Deficiency symptoms and info

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:13 PM

there seems to be quite a few 'fixes' or remedies out there. The ones that i have seen mentioned often (& in a generally +ve light) are; Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diluted in water (have a google for usage). ACV tablet with a meal, more convenient than vinegar & no rick of 'burning' throat. Digestive Bitters (Swedish Bitters) liquid post meal. & become Zinc replete, try a zinc taste taste (zinc tally test) to check sufficiency.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:51 PM

with regards to the Betaine HCL supps, i read some anecdotes that the capsule form works better than the tablet form (so if you had tabs, you could always give the caps a try)

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:20 PM

with regards to was the Betaine HCL supps, were they in capsule form. i read some anecdotes that the capsule form works better than tablet form.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:23 PM

with regards to was the Betaine HCL supps, i read some anecdotes that the capsule form works better than tablet form (so if you had tabs, you could always give the caps a try).

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:16 PM

..some blurb i read on Swedish/digestive bitters, "In Europe Digestive Bitters are very popular for treating heartburn. These are bitter tasting herbs, usually sold in liquid form since they must come in to contact with the tongue to work. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. This in turn stimulates a nerve, known as the vagus nerve. This in turn increases the production of stomach acid, bile secretion and pancreatic enzyme secretion" http://curezone.org/forums/fm.asp?i=1480855#i

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 04:26 PM

I've done a little research on low stomach acid, yeah. That's why I was giving the enzymes a shot (they contain Betaine HCL, Pepsin, etc.). The highest number I got per meal was four, and I didn't feel any effects, so now I'm cutting them out to see if I notice a difference. What are some other remedies for hypochlorhydria besides supplementing with HCL?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:15 PM

...some blurb i read on Swedish/digestive bitters, "In Europe Digestive Bitters are very popular for treating heartburn. These are bitter tasting herbs, usually sold in liquid form since they must come in to contact with the tongue to work. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. This in turn stimulates a nerve, known as the vagus nerve. This in turn increases the production of stomach acid, bile secretion and pancreatic enzyme secretion"

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:17 PM

there seems to be quite a few 'fixes' or remedies out there. The ones that i have seen mentioned often (& in a generally +ve light) are; Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diluted in water (have a google for usage). ACV tablet with a meal, more convenient than vinegar & no risk of 'burning' throat. Digestive Bitters (Swedish Bitters) liquid post meal. & become Zinc replete, try a zinc taste taste (zinc tally test) to check sufficiency.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 27, 2013
at 10:17 PM

..some blurb i read on Swedish/digestive bitters, "In Europe Digestive Bitters are very popular for treating heartburn. These are bitter tasting herbs, usually sold in liquid form since they must come in to contact with the tongue to work. Bitters work by stimulating the bitter receptors on the back of the tongue. This in turn stimulates a nerve, known as the vagus nerve. This in turn increases the production of stomach acid, bile secretion and pancreatic enzyme secretion" http://curezone.org/forums/fm.asp?i=1480855#i

0
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on February 27, 2013
at 12:45 AM

Another tangent here: Ask to be tested for sleep apnea. It's one of those "zebras" doctors won't think of testing for if you're not an obese male over 40, but it's not uncommon even in thin people, young people, women, etc. You don't even need to snore to have sleep apnea. The ONLY way to tell is with a sleep apnea test (either overnight in a sleep lab or with an approved home testing device). Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Why am I thinking this? When your airway closes off due to apnea(it can be a myriad of reasons, obesity is only one--you may have an anatomically narrow airway, you may have a mild neurological issue that doesn't trigger breathing consistently during sleep, etc.) and you struggle to get a breath in, you create a pressure gradient that sucks stomach contents into your esophagus and throat-->GERD. GERD in turn irritates the airway-->Asthma. Irritation of the airway causes swelling, further increasing the obstruction and difficulty breathing in your sleep. A vicious cycle.

BTW, it may even explain your anxiety. If you spend all night struggling to breathe, you're going to secrete a lot of cortisol and other stress hormones that don't get a chance to fully clear before the next night. One of the amazing revalations of finally getting sleep apnea treated was the fact that my anxiety decreased significantly since I wasn't spending all night in panic mode.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:43 AM

Interesting thought re: the apnea. I'll definitely ask my pulmonologist about it next time I see him. Thanks.

0
32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 27, 2013
at 12:13 AM

Since you are looking for other tangents, here's one: gallbladder. I felt my initial gb pains in the center behind my sternum ... initially I thought I was having a heart attack. (After about a year it moved to my right just under my rib cage.) Feels like someone is sitting on your chest?

Another place you will feel gb pain is behind your right shoulder blade; it is referred pain. Is that the back pain you mentioned?

They always go with GERD and reflux meds ... it's like doctors don't know any other trick!

I was also diagnosed with asthma about 20 years ago, in college. "Exercise induced asthma." But it just never seemed right to me. After I had my gb removed, voila, "asthma" is gone. Also gone are stitches in my side when I run, and inability to sleep on my right side (it just wasn't comfortable). I think I just could never really get a deep breath, bc everything in my insides was inflamed.

All you need is an ultrasound; if you think it might be a possibility, just say the code words, "hurts a little to my right under my rib cage" and "seems to hurt more when I eat high fat." You'll get an ultrasound. :)

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:39 AM

Back in the summer when I was having upper abdominal pain, they did scan my gallbladder and didn't find anything. That's also when they did the upper endoscopy and colonoscopy. The only thing those revealed was some "mild gastritis." The back pain isn't "pain" so much as tightness right along the upper spine.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 27, 2013
at 01:08 AM

Unfortunately once the pain kicks in almost everything can flare it up (that's how it happened for me anyway). I was so happy to get it out and go back to my high fat paleo ways! (although it took me 18 months to make that decision...)

Cfec3fb17e6d06f984ffedc2aae54920

(150)

on February 27, 2013
at 12:33 AM

I agree with both Eugenia & RK. Add more fruit or veggies/carbs (esp in AM - eggs are hard to digest). I had my GB removed a few yrs ago & was told that hi-animal fat/protein diet is a contributing factor to GB pain/attacks & low-animal fat diet is best in order to avoid them.

0
3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on February 26, 2013
at 11:50 PM

Personally, I'd get rid of the enzymes. Way too many of these pills... I don't trust them one bit. Especially not 9 of these pills in one day, every day!

Also, add some fruit and starch. You seem to be extremely low carb. I don't see the reason for it. Just last night I was watching a NatGeo TV documentary about some native tribes in New Guinea, eating a lot of sweet potatoes/yams along their kill. Our ancestors did have starch and fruit sugar when in season. Avoiding them 24/7/365, is a mistake IMHO.

Keep the goat kefir in the long term, despite what others will tell you around here. Especially if you're doing it yourself. Although I do advocate that you experiment removing it for 2 weeks and then re-introducing it. Two weeks is the time that you need to spot intolerance. You can keep the kefir grains in the fridge for 2 weeks without a problem (change their milk 2-3 times while you're on the elimination experiment).

I'd also replace the caffeinated green tea with herbal tea. Greek Mountain Tea is the most potent tea there is: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=sideritis Here's how to prepare it: http://eugenia.queru.com/2007/04/21/greek-mountain-tea/

Finally, are you sleeping well? Do you see the sun enough? The D3 pills only supplement for half of the listed functions of D3. The other half is by taking UVB light directly in our skin by the sun, especially from April to September. There's no supplementation for it.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:57 AM

Try to find a Mediterranean store, that's where I find it. Regarding fruits, there are fruits and starches that are allowed on Fodmaps.

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:42 AM

OK, I'll try cutting the enzymes and see how that goes. I heard they can help with GERD, but haven't noticed any real improvement on them. Interesting point about the starch. Not the first time I've heard that. I'll give it a go. Trying to stay away from FODMAPS so that'll limit the fruit, but we'll see. I don't make the goat kefir myself; I like Redwood Hill: http://www.redwoodhill.com/kefir Anywhere I can buy Greek Mountain Tea, or is it only available in homemade form? As for sleep, I sleep through the night, about eight hours. Not much outside time in this Midwest winter ;-)

6cf053a9f3d692b4787d068e7daca7ea

(55)

on February 27, 2013
at 02:49 AM

Silly question re: the tea. I didn't read your link first. Wonder if I'll be able to find it here in the Midwest. Might have to go the online route...

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