Heartburn And Shoulder Pain
Q: Do a lot of you have trouble with esophageal spasm?
I'm not clear about whether this is considered "officially" to be a part of
the irritable bowel syndrome.
I was diagnosed with IBS and I'm certain the diagnosis was
correct, as far as it goes. But in recent years heartburn and what I presume
to be esophageal spasm have really been competing for most-annoying honors
with the symptoms I have lower in the tract. Since age is always relevant in
health problems, I'll mention that I will be 49 next week.
I live in NYC and needless to say, my guts have not been behaving real well
the past month. Right now I seem to be in premenstrual mode and I'm pretty
gassy and rumbly as always during that phase. Last night I had a big bowl of
chicken soup with wholewheat noodles right before bed, not a very smart
move, I know. This morning in the wee hours I had a really bad esophageal
episode as I was just beginning to wake up, when I shifted my position to
lying on the left side. The pain, which is always slightly left of center,
went through to my back and I had some left arm and shoulder pain as well.
But I *know* this was not a heart attack. It's happened before, though maybe
not quite so severe. I got up and took two tbsp of liquid calcium/magnesium
and ate some fennel seeds, went back to bed and propped myself up, and put
the TV on to distract me. Later on I got up again and took one of those
enteric-coated peppermint caps to try to generally chill things out. I fell
back asleep for a short while. When I awoke again it was better, but still
annoying, so I resorted to a Mylanta Plus tablet, about an hour ago. I take
those only in extreme distress, once every couple of months or so. I've been
upright since then, which itself has helped, and I'm basically fine now,
except that it hurts to take a deep breath.
Does anyone have any comment about this ?
A:You have a lot of symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which might be helped by an H2 antagonist like Pepcid AC. However, because you are having pain, I think you will need to see a physician as there is the possibility of an active ulcer or some other condition, such as a heart or lung problem, playing a role here. Gallbladder pain can be similar to what you described, however, in most people the gallbladder is on the right side of the body (for example, exception would be if you were an identical twin with mirrored organs from your twin) About two weeks ago I saw a cardiologist because I've been having some trouble with palpitations when trying to go to sleep, and I still have to get a 24-hour cardiac monitor test done to complete his evaluation, but my electrocardiogram at his office was fine. I do feel that I have the ultimate responsibility for understanding and managing my own physical self, and have seen first-hand some pretty awful stuff that can happen when you "leave it to the experts" too much. So I am trying to make sense of things, like all of us. For example, pregnant women often have heartburn. My uterus is enlarged by fibroid tumors to about the size of a three-month pregnancy