My stomach hurts all the time.
December 29, 2017 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Years ago I was diagnosed with chronic gastritis. It flares up now and then, especially when I'm really stressed out. Well, I'm very stressed lately and this latest flare-up has been awful. I'm going to make a doctor's appointment as soon as her office reopens after the holidays. I'd like some suggestions of what to push for and how to advocate for myself.

Whenever I have a flare up I am nauseated with heartburn and vomiting and diarrhea. My entire abdomen hurts, especially around my belly button. Acid reducers like Pepcid sort of help, and PPIs help if I take the highest dosage. I don't absorb calcium and b12 well, and that's been attributed to gastritis. (My gastritis itself has been blamed on NSAID usage, which I stopped completely years ago.) Also my immune system this year has been shit and I've been sick with various illnesses non-stop. They seem to piggy back on flare-ups.

Avoiding acidic foods helps keep my stomach from getting too irritated, but doesnt seem to prevent it entirely. I'm starting to wonder if this gastritis might actually be something else? I've had problems with my stomach since I was an infant, so maybe it's just ultra sensitive. I had to eat yogurt instead of formula or breastmilk, and my nickname was "the puker." On the other hand, I've started getting new symptoms with flare-ups, like a mouth full of canker sores.

Anybody else out there dealing with gastritis? Does it sound like something else? What should I ask my doctor to consider?
posted by Stonkle to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In a similar situation I found low does anti-anxiety drugs helped. If the acid is a stress response, preventing the stress response can help keep those secondary symptoms in check.
posted by French Fry at 10:19 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry, tummy and digestive issues are the worst. You don't mention what type of doctor, but it sounds like you should be under the care of a specialist, if you aren't already. If your doctor refuses you a referral, then find a new doctor. Especially if you are experiencing new symptoms, your illness may be advancing, and you may need additional treatment. As far as advocating for yourself, I would start right now making a food diary, keeping track of all of your symptoms and how you react to each food. Also write down, to the best of your ability, each treatment you have tried and how you responded. Often when you go to the doctor, their instinct is to act as though you're a new patient, and start at the beginning of a the track of disease treatment. By showing clearly that this isn't your first rodeo, that will make clear to your doctor that this is serious, and you need more advanced care. If you've been to any other doctors, begin the process of transferring your records, so everything is all in one place (you will need to do this if you see a specialist as well).

For myself, my acid reflux issues are somewhat secondary to my really terrible IBS, but these different digestive illnesses often tend to go hand in hand. For me, I have to avoid the acid triggering foods all the time, not just when I'm feeling bad. It sucks, but that's the hand I've been dealt. And I take an acid reducer all the time as well. When I'm having a flare-up, I do the chicken and rice, no veggies, no spices ever boring hospital diet, which also really sucks. Dairy is probably not your friend here. One of the hardest things about this is breaking your emotional relation to food, and just giving up on lots of your favorite things. But it will make you feel better. Take care.
posted by backwards compatible at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have celiac disease and get the sore stomach/canker sore/nausea/diarrhea combo when I've been exposed to gluten. I've found the best way to deal with the sore stomach is pepto in the short term and kefir in the morning and kombucha in the afternoon as a longer term solution. My stomach bacteria gets out of wack and causes the soreness; repopulating helps. I use zofran for the nausea.

I hope you get it worked out -- stomach issues are the worst! Visit a GI if you haven't already. The endoscopy was vital to my diagnosis.
posted by danielle the bee at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wow, I’m sorry, that sucks. I have experienced a less-crazy version of what you describe off and on for the past couple years. It’s self-amplifying, with stomach issues feeding anxiety about deeper health problems, which in turn exacerbates stomach issues. I worked on it with my doctor last year and he ruled out things like H. Pylori via blood tests. What he recommended (and what’s helped) is a mind/body approach toward anxiety management that cuts through some of the feedback loops between worry and physical symptoms. Kaiser, my HMO, offers classes on the topic along with a basic “how your digestive tract works” class. Maybe your doctor can recommend something similar?
posted by migurski at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I get gastritis mildly now and then.

In the short term drinking as much pepto as the label allows for a day or two seems to calm it down for a while. The liquid, regular, not the deluxe pepto.
posted by littlewater at 10:40 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

To me, the childhood puking suggests food allergies. Probably you have already pursued this avenue. I think the scratch tests aren't very accurate and the blood tests are supposed to be more accurate.

When I had my gallbladder attack it was all over the abdomen but towards the upper part. It didn't localize to the upper right side until it had calmed down a lot, like after a week. I had the combo with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. But once it happened it didn't wane until medicated.
posted by puddledork at 10:45 AM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

I had similar symptoms and it turned out to be h. pylori, which was only diagnosed after an upper endoscopy, both the breath test and the stool test had been negative.

It’s certainly something that the doc might want to rule out.
posted by lydhre at 10:49 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have you done a FODMAP elimination type diet to check for food sensitivities? You may want to do that.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:03 AM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's possible to have autoimmune gastritis which needs to be treated properly. I'd ask to see a GI doctor. It's also possible to eat more convenience food when busy and get gastritis (this is me, but my Dad has autoimmune gastritis so there was confusion and an endoscopy).

I find that fasting for a day or two helps a lot. Sends your gut to sleep for a few hours and it can heal up a bit. Then eat easy to digest stuff (eggs, cooked meat, soups etc) fora few days afterwards.
posted by fshgrl at 11:22 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh also I just remembered: I had one of those skin allergy tests done a few months back and I am super allergic to birch pollen. Turns out there are a LOT of foods that have cross-reactivity to birch pollen, apples amongst hem. For decades, every time I ate an apple I would hiccup like crazy.

I would consider getting a whole panel of allergy testing done; you may have some food or cross-reactivity allergies.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:05 AM on December 31, 2017

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