March 21, 2004 10:28 PM   Subscribe

What the hell is wrong with me? Everything (yes, everything) has been giving me heartburn for the past month. I even fasted for 4 days (just water) and then had a piece of toast and that gave me heartburn. [mi]

About 5 or 6 weeks ago I had a bad case of food poisoning. Pretty much since then I get heartburn no matter what I eat or drink. Never had it before in my life. I've tried taking Zantac 75 which is supposed to "reduce the production of excess stomach acid for up to 72 hours" but I think it makes it worse. Any suggestions or should I just get my ass (stomach) to the doctor?
posted by dobbs to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This happened to me in college when I was under an inordinate amount of stress. Once I got away from the stress, the heartburn went away. I feel for you, though. I remember how unpleasant and frustrating it was.
On the other hand, my brother had similar symptoms, also in college, and ended up getting diagnosed with an ulcer, which was treated with antibiotics and surprisingly, anti-depressants, which cleared things right up. Maybe the food poisoning damaged your stomach in some way and it hasn't had a chance to heal? I think a trip to the doctor is certainly in order. Good luck.
posted by bonheur at 10:33 PM on March 21, 2004

Fasting for four days must have been pretty hard. In my opinion it's not likely to have much of a positive impact either. Don't fast... just eat smaller amounts of more healthy foods.
posted by skylar at 10:38 PM on March 21, 2004

As with other medical questions here at AskMe, get to a doctor seems to be good advice.

WebMD says heartburn is only supposed to last a couple hours, and severe heartburn might be related to infection or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Don't take medical advice from people here, get to a doctor.
posted by malphigian at 11:02 PM on March 21, 2004

Yup, see a doctor. Meanwhile, if the burn is reflux, get Gaviscon tablets. I use extra-strength. They MUST be taken with water, as the water makes them work. Also avoid greasy or spicy food (no donuts).
posted by Goofyy at 3:09 AM on March 22, 2004

I've suffered from Reflux for a long time, and the one thing I can say is that fasting certainly didn't help you any. Fasting makes it worse. My theory, is that it's because your stomache doesn't stop producing acid, and while you're fasting there's nothing there to absorb it or use it up. Then when you finally eat something, it's all just sitting there waiting to push it's way up and make you feel the burn.

See a doctor. They can prescribe better, or stronger meds than Zantac. They may also do a scope to make sure you haven't done any significant damage to your esophogeal tract already
posted by jacquilynne at 5:54 AM on March 22, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, folks. Just booked an appointment.
posted by dobbs at 7:21 AM on March 22, 2004

I had something similar to this last summer. Instead of heartburn, though, I experienced nausea and dizziness. Coffee, chocolate, sugary things and fried things made it the worst. I share the opinion that it may have been related to the aftermath of a food poisoning. I quit coffee (!!) for three months. Six months later, it seems to have passed, and I haven't gone back to coffee. See a doctor, and use Gaviscom. Good luck.
posted by squirrel at 9:23 AM on March 22, 2004

I'm glad you've made a doc's appointment. I had persistent heart burn for YEARS and man did it suck. I finally went to a doc and got that good old purple pill and now I'm kicking myself that I let myself suffer all that pain for all those years, rather than just cowboy up and see a physician.

Anyway, my well wishes are with you. Unstoppable heart burn just makes everything else harder.
posted by jennyb at 9:38 AM on March 22, 2004

You are making the right call to get a professional evaluation. A partial list of conditions that produce heartburn or similar symptoms includes:
Laxative abuse
Heart disease
Parasitic infestation
Gallbladder disease
Panreatic/gastric cancer
Alcohol use
Certain foods
Certain drugs

Obviously, these vary widely in incidence and severity, and most of the things on this list will not be applicable to any specific person. However, you can't do the needed workup over the internet, so a doctors visit is definitely in order.
posted by TedW at 9:58 AM on March 22, 2004

I too suffered with GERD for a long time. As previously mentioned, your fasting may have made it worse (assuming acid reflux is the problem you're having). You might be given the oh-so-expensive "Purple Pill" called Nexium - works wonders, but you may be taking it for a LONG time.
posted by jca at 10:11 AM on March 22, 2004

I had the same problem, had a gastroscopy, my doctors saw what was wrong and fixed the problem. it's no biggie. just ask for a little Valium before the procedure
posted by matteo at 11:10 AM on March 22, 2004

Your condition is obviously something serious, but for others reading: for frequent heartburn (which is basically the same thing as gastric reflux), Prilosec is great, and as of recently it's over-the-counter.

It can technically be used day-to-day like Zantac or Pepcid (which are weaker), but that's not an official usage. You're supposed to take it once a day for a regime of (I think) 14 or 21 days (they come in packs of 14 and 21) during which it not only surpresses heartburn exceedingly well, but allows the esophageal tissue damaged by acid to heal, which reduces the irritation that causes further heartburn, even when you're off the drug. To take it regularly, rather than as a 14-day regime at most every four months, ask your doctor (who also can perscribe the perscription-strength version or indeed Nexium, which is stronger still). You can use it every day, but you're supposed to ask your doctor first (as I did).
posted by abcde at 2:00 PM on March 22, 2004

I found generic ranitidine tablets a cheaper solution than Nexium or Gaviscon. You can buy them in bulk from Costco. I had symptoms like what you're describing for about a year, during which time ranitidine was a constant, grudgingly beloved companion. Then, all of a sudden, the symptoms went away and haven't come back.
posted by Hildago at 3:30 PM on March 22, 2004

jca, do you have anything more to say about Nexium? I've got GERD and I've been on Nexium for a long, long time. If you'd rather mail me, go ahead (address is in the profile).
posted by LukeyBoy at 8:24 PM on March 22, 2004

Ranitidine is not a substitute for Gaviscon, they are totally different medications. Rantidine inhibits production of acid, but Gaviscon protects from what is already there.

There are generic version of Gaviscon, but I've never used one that worked as well. Mind, my system can not tolerate any form of mint flavoring in an antacid, as the mint burns worse, and the generics tend to be mint flavored.

It is preferable to buy Gaviscon in individually wrapped packaging as they stay fresh longer, and freshness definitely makes a big difference.
posted by Goofyy at 12:43 AM on March 23, 2004

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