What can I do to let me breath?
September 12, 2005 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Can't sleep. In the Spring the left side of my throat got swollen and I couldn't breath out of my left nostril. I went to the ENT who said it was acid reflux that was causing the swelling (just by looking down my throat).

Well I was given Prevacid and it eventually went away in the summer months. Just this week it started back up again. Just my left side! I can barely breath out of my left nostril, hardly any air comes out or goes in. The left side of my neck is also hard like it's tense. Any suggestions while I wait until I can get an appointment in? It's driving me crazy, I can't sleep! I'm not known to have allergies but may go out and buy a lot of Allegra.

And I'm not completely sure that acid reflux causes this as I don't have the traditional symptoms and it doesn't seem to be affected by what I eat. It's driving me crazy!

PPS I should mention that it's largely not there until 3:00PM-sleep.
posted by geoff. to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
go buy over the counter Prevacid or Prilosec. If it worked before, it should work again. I know that whenever I forget to take Prilosec, a week later, I have that same shortness of breath.
posted by mwhybark at 11:22 PM on September 12, 2005

ambien works like voodoo.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:30 PM on September 12, 2005

It does sound like some sort of allergy. I'd go see a different ENT and/or allergist if I were you.
posted by Serena at 11:38 PM on September 12, 2005

See this thread about nostrils and breathing. I'm not sure about the acid reflux, but I would definitely get a second opinion.
posted by wsg at 12:20 AM on September 13, 2005

(This is going to sound a bit weird but...) try putting about 4-6 inches (blocks of wood?) under the legs of your bed at the head of the bed. Or arrange your pillows to form a wedge so you sleep in a position with your upper torso higher than your hips. A friend does this for acid reflux and swears that it helps her to sleep.
posted by jeanmari at 4:47 AM on September 13, 2005

I started having this problem a few weeks ago and went to my GP about it (I almost had to go to the ER but took an assload of benadryl which made the throat swelling go down). I thought it was associated with hives because my left arm/face were itchy but she (the doctor) said that it was actually an allergic reaction to these bugs that are currently everywhere (indoors, outdoors) in Florida.

She gave me some clarinex and I've been somewhat better but if I forget to take it, I get itchy and can't breathe again.
posted by superkim at 5:31 AM on September 13, 2005

It does sound like some sort of allergy. I'd go see a different ENT and/or allergist if I were you.

GERD causes many of your allergy symptoms by inflaming your sinuses and making them super sensitive. It's happening on your left because, whether you know or not, you are sleeping on that side and the acid from you stomach is flowing all the way up, and out through your breath, on the left more than your right.

Until you can get your prescription, you can take the weaker OTC stuff. Also, though your sleeping partner may not enjoy this, put a couple of bricks under the bed posts at the head of your bed. If you have a disagreeable partner, there are many commercially available foam wedges to raise your head higher than your stomach.

GERD is more than heartburn and inconvenience. The constant acid burn on your lower esophagus can cause hiatal hernia and can even eventually cause cancer.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:47 AM on September 13, 2005

I'd recommend you get reevaluated by a physician. Generally speaking however there are two things I'd keep in mind if this is due to GERD which it could well be:

1) GERD isn't cured by a trial of prevacid. Reflux meds tend to control the acid part of this disease, not the reflux part, which depends upon your esophageal sphincter. If the meds helped, and stopping them made the problem comes, back that's probably even more suggestive that you have GERD.

2) Can you sleep with your head elevated above your belly? If so, you can let gravity help you prevent the reflux up into your nasopharynx. Try an extra pillow or two.
posted by drpynchon at 7:07 AM on September 13, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, I don't think I made it clear. I've been on Prevacid the whole time. I never went off. This just came back this week after being totally gone (even on the Prevacid), I've taken 300mg of Zantac also and that hasn't relieved the problems. Assuming this is reflux and not allergies, is it common for tolerance to build up after only 3 months?
posted by geoff. at 7:30 AM on September 13, 2005


Your clinical history seems unusual for reflux on quite a few levels. Not that it couldn't be, but your subjective sense of neck fullness needs attention asap. It shouldn't normally take very long for a PPI (prevacid/prilosec, etc.) to improve reflux induced symptoms, even atypical ones.

If you return to your ENT and they do not do a thorough head and neck exam, and possibly nasolaryngoscopy (a fairly easy look at the vocal cords via the nasal passages) then I think a second opinion is in order.

Issues such as body weight, tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine use amongst others will all influence this. Attributing your symptoms to an allergy of any sort is way too premature and doesn't seem likely at all.

See your doctor.
posted by docpops at 8:29 AM on September 13, 2005

See a doctor. Last summer I was unable to breathe out of my right nostril and ended up having surgery the week before going to college. I second docpops and have a head and neck exam.

I'm fine now.
posted by adamwolf at 10:11 AM on September 13, 2005

Yeah, geoff, after your clarification about the prevacid, I agree with docpops's advice.

To answer your follow-up question, patients taking histamine-blockers (the older standby for GERD) did occasionally develop tolerance, however with proton pump inhibitors such as prevacid, that isn't a common reaction.

So again, imperative to see a doctor about this.
posted by drpynchon at 2:23 PM on September 13, 2005

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