Perhaps I'm a cow? Why do I regurgitate my food?
November 27, 2012 11:03 AM   Subscribe

YANMD digestion filter: I regurgitate food. Regularly. If I do any vaguely strenuous exercise within 2 hours of eating, or sometimes longer, up come bite-sized portions of my meal, intact, into my mouth. WTF?

It also happens if I go to the toilet (for, you know, a bowel movement) within 1 or 2 hours of eating. It doesn't seem to matter whether I ate a lot or a little, spicy or non-spicy, fruits, veggies, meat, whatever. And if I exercise, particularly if there's any abdominal exercise involved, I can count on having to re-chew my food and swallow it again. Does anybody have any idea what could be going on here.

(I've read that this could relate to some sort of allergy but I was hoping there might be someone with experience here - I've spoken to my doctor and he doesn't seem to care much as there's no pain or discomfort, really - there's no bile in there or anything.)
posted by HopStopDon'tShop to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Go to a doctor and get an upper GI series.

You could have a twist in your intestine that can cause this. It's not normal and you need to find a doctor who will take you seriously and help you get to the bottom of this pronto.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:10 AM on November 27, 2012

Best answer: My sister had this as a little kid - she'd puke whenever she exercised, laughed, cried, etc. It was diagnosed as GERD - a major cause of heartburn. You don't have to have pain for it to be GERD, however. She didn't report it hurting, most times. It all just came right back up.

They said the big chunks indicated it never got to her stomach, so that's probably where they'll focus testing. They also said she wasn't chewing things right - she swallowed things that were too big (and also a lot of air.) We all had to practice chewing twenty times before swallowing.
posted by SMPA at 11:14 AM on November 27, 2012

My aunt had a regurgitation problem, and ultimately it turned out that part of her stomach had died and food was literally sitting in her stomach and rotting.

Bodies are weird.

Go to a doctor. Be obnoxious if necessary.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:15 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get a referral to a gastroenterologist. This could be the start of a potentially serious gastric motility issue.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:21 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction

I saw it on an episode of Mystery Diagnosis.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:22 AM on November 27, 2012

Best answer: Can't diagnose for you, but I get acid reflux pretty frequently. I recently discovered that apples go a long way to reducing this. I read it on an online article (Web MD or something), and while I found the "scientific" explanation for it drastically wanting -- it was way too simple an explanation to be accurate -- it turns out that eating apples actually works pretty well.

But yeah, Nthing the suggestions that you see a specialist if at all possible. I would not be satisfied by the answer your doc gave if I were in your shoes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:30 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to a doctor as soon as reasonably possible, you might have a hernia.
posted by windykites at 12:32 PM on November 27, 2012

See a specialist, without question. Short and long term, however, you should also be chewing your food better; bite-sized isn't chewed-size, you know.
posted by davejay at 12:41 PM on November 27, 2012

Best answer: The people who I work with who have this often have something about their oesophagus that is causing the food to sit in there for longer.

If it doesn't taste of sick or acid then it probably hasn't made it as far as your stomach.

There are many causes for oesophageal difficulties, many of which are not a big deal, healthwise. However, some of them are and they will probably want to check it out.

As you'll have realised, coughing, straining, doing physical activity involving your abs all involve increasing the pressure inside your abdomen, which will tend to squeeze your stomach and could be pushing things back up (but chewable, normal tasting food will not have come from your stomach).
posted by kadia_a at 1:03 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If there's no bile, then the chances of it being a hiatus hernia are lowered. There's a condition called achalasia which is essentially the restriction of your oesophagus' motility: it has ceased to move food down itself as efficiently as it should. Oesophageal problems generally are diagnosed by either barium swallows or endoscopies. Neither are pleasant exactly, but it's extremely important that you go to a doctor with your condition: repeated damage to the oesophagus through regurgitation, even when unaccompanied by bile and unassociated with discomfort, can cause you more serious complications over the longer term.
posted by hydatius at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2012

Seconding scaryblackdeath on the apples -- I have GERD, and used to have a lot of trouble with food coming back up when I was lying down trying to sleep at night. Eating an apple at night has really helped with that -- something in apples seems to help with digestion. Plus, yummy nighttime snack!

But definitely, get to a doctor and have it checked out.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:57 PM on November 27, 2012

Best answer: nthing Achalasia - I went through 3.5 years of wrong diagnoses before the 3rd or 4th specialist figured it out. Near the end I couldn't even keep water or Gatorade down with any consistency.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:43 PM on November 27, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all. I will get a referral tomorrow morning and go see what can be done. I'll post results here for posterity.

Just to add further detail given all the helpful notes above, I do, coincidentally, eat at least one apple every day, and I have done for a long time. I also chew my food fairly well and am a notoriously slow eater - some of the bite-sized foods that come up include yoghurt, oatmeal, smoothies etc, so while I will focus a bit more on chewing I suspect that it is not going to help too much.

And it pretty much always comes up bile-free and, frankly, tasting as if I'd just put it into my mouth so I guess that means it's just been sitting in my oesophagus the whole time. Which is clearly pretty messed up as sometimes this is as much as 3 hours after I've eaten.

posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 5:51 AM on November 28, 2012

Response by poster: For the record, I thought I would note what happened with me here:

After inconclusive tests (an endoscopy and a biopsy), my gastroenterologist prescribed Nexium, a common Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) used to treat GERD.

The Nexium decreased my symptoms significantly within about 3 days (40mg per day). After a month I would still have an occasional episode of regurgitation but it was rare. I ran out of meds on a trip and the symptoms returned full force within 7 days.

I then tried a smaller dose (20mg) for a month and that took longer to kick in and by the end of the month I would experience approximately one episode every second day, at the end of the day.

After that, however, the idea of being on prescription medication for the rest of my life freaked me out and I consulted with a nutritionist who worked in this area and we worked out a diet - essentially protein and little else for a limited amount of time.

I am currently in the 3rd week of this diet and the results are pretty astounding. I have not had a single episode in 13 days in a row and I started to see a reduction in symptoms on day 3 of the diet. Over the next few weeks I will start to reintroduce gluten and then other grains and carbohydrates to see if we can identify a 'culprit' in my case but I am, either way, sold on this approach.

Here is some of the reading I did in relation to this: What Everyone Ought to Know about Gerd

And here is the site of the nutritionist that I am using: Healthy Gut Healthy Life
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:55 AM on June 12, 2013

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