Acid reflex can't swallow
December 25, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Acid reflex can't swallow anything. YANMD but maybe you can help me in a pinch.

So today I came down with acid reflux so bad that I literally can't swallow anything except ice water without having horrible burning pains in my chest and upper gi. I saw my doc about this when thos happened a month ago. She recommended over the counter treatment and a bland diet. It went away after a week and now it's back. I think it might be caused by some supplements my dr prescribed and I've stopped taking the supplements. I'm following my doc's advice about OTC medication and I'll follow up with her when I can get an appointment on Thursday. But here's my problem for now-- I literally can't swallow anything without excruciating pain. I have to fly across the country tomorrow and I'm worried about passing out from hunger (I can still drink water so dehydration isn't a problem) on day 2 of not eating. I'm also battling a cold and cough that I'm mostly over. But any idea on something I could try and eat to keep reasonably nourished. I tried broth, but it seemed to salty and so irritated the reflux.
posted by bananafish to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What about melty vanilla ice cream?
posted by cairdeas at 6:21 PM on December 25, 2012

well certainly if you're in excruciating pain and can't eat you should call your doctor immediately, or go to urgent care. but if you're dead-set against seeking medical care, you can't not eat, so you will need to gut it through the pain. if it were me, i'd buy a case of protein shakes and get by on that.
posted by facetious at 6:22 PM on December 25, 2012

Try taking zinc 15 minutes before you eat anything.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:22 PM on December 25, 2012

Can you get (and keep down) Ensure? Maybe if it's watered down?
posted by Mchelly at 6:22 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jell-o? Also, try standing while eating/ walking around after eating to help stuff move down more easily. But if it's really so bad I'd go to a nearby ED- people definitely go there for less. Not being able to eat and excruciating pain are fairly serious and worth a trip to emergency, I think.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 6:35 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried Gaviscon? It is chalky but should help.
posted by saradarlin at 6:36 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

White or wheat bread, rice, plain skinless chicken, bananas. Nothing citrusy, spiced, smoked, fried. However, excruciating pain when swallowing sounds pretty atypical for heartburn, so I second the calls to go to an ER if necessary to get the all-clear. If it is acid overproduction, your stomach being empty for so long probably isn't helping matters.
posted by jespresso at 6:49 PM on December 25, 2012

I have reflux also, sporadically bad. Raise the head of your bed, do NOT add pillows, they just put pressure on your diaphram in a weird way. Prilosec at 4:00 pm daily. Nothing spicy, citrus, caffeine. Anything except water stimulates the production of stomach acid. You do need something in your stomach occasionally to have it not totally empty, saltine crackers, oatmeal, yogurt. Use a probiotic, which will help put good bacteria back in your guts. No eating 3 hours before lying down...And Tums, my dr. said actually in the short term, you can take all you want if it seems to help. It might constipate you, so drink lots of water. If you are still in pain, go to a clinic or ER...sometimes heart problems masquerade as know.
posted by msleann at 6:52 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should be calling your doctor back - he or she would want to know that things aren't working out for you so that you could get further advice.

IANYD but typically for people with more severe reflux, instead of Tums, I recommend Maalox and I use something with a topical anesthetic in it, specifically viscous lidocaine. You may not be able to find a good viscous lidocaine-containing product at your pharmacy, but you could probably find something similar with benzocaine that you could use for just a few doses (you can ask the pharmacist). These are only short-term, symptomatic treatments - I presume your doctor has you on reflux medication to treat that directly.

In terms of what to drink, Ensure and protein shakes are good ideas and if you are really drinking enough, you should not be passing out 'from hunger'. Doctors often put people on clear liquid diets for days. If you feel dizzy (when you stand up for example) then you are getting dehydrated despite what you think about getting enough fluids.

In regards to the above comments about getting to an urgent care or ER right away, I have more trust in the fact that you have spoken to a doctor who knows you well and you and the doctor are in agreement that this is a reflux problem. Heart disease would be extremely rare in a 37 year old woman. But really, just because you saw your doctor a month ago does not mean you cannot call them again at any time if you're having a significant problem like this. Don't forget that primary care doctors have someone on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, specifically to address concerns like this. Believe me, many if not most of the calls they get are for lesser concerns than what you're experiencing.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:47 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

while you're working on the underlying causes, a tbsp or two of baking soda in icy cold water may work wonders. pure, simple, immediate ph adjustment, no otc./scrip drug side effects, super cheap.
posted by alabamnicon at 8:12 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some medications can cause acid reflux, BTW. This happened to me last year - all of a sudden out of the blue, agonizing and worse than I could have even imagined was possible so my sympathies to you.

Perplexingly, in my case I didn't start having that reaction until several weeks after I'd started taking the medication; but the timing of when it would happen each day corresponded to when I was taking it and when I stopped the medication the acid reflux ceased. So I actually wonder whether it was actually caused by a combination of things, both the medication and something else that changed, but I've never figured out what.
posted by XMLicious at 10:07 PM on December 25, 2012

Seconding Gaviscon. As much as you need. You can mix H2 blockers, Gaviscon, and PPIs like Prilosec.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:33 PM on December 25, 2012

The jury is still our on bananas, but a number of people report that it helps with acid reflux, and I have found this to be the case for myself. You could probably make a smoothie out of it, but find out how you react to milk -- some find milk very irritating; soy milk, which has half the fat, may be easier to take. Add in a dose of ginger of you like, which is also something people have found useful in addressing heartburn. These smoothies can be drunk almost frozen -- bananas develop an almost ice-cream quality when very cold, which I find very pleasant on a scorched throat.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:03 AM on December 26, 2012

I went through this and lived on Ensure for weeks at a time.

Take prilosec (or generic omeprazole) twice a day. This is twice the recommended dose, but my doctor prescribed this to me and told me it was safe and that it was basically impossible to overdose on it. The only caution is not to also take a lot of Tums or calcium, which over time (years) can cause problems but not for the short term. It takes a few days to kick in, but you might as well start.

Also, it's gross, but mixing some baking soda with cool water can help neutralize the acid in your throat.

Good luck.
posted by elizeh at 7:40 PM on December 26, 2012

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