Stomach acid and infiltrates in the lungs?
January 26, 2008 12:10 AM   Subscribe

When do you need to start worrying about acid reflux and your lungs?

I was recently diagnosed with acid reflux (no surprise, family history of Crohn's and all kinds of other GI drama), probably brought on by eosinophilic esophagitis. We're still waiting for the biopsy results and the rest of my upper endoscopy looked normal. I had extremely deep furrows all the way from the distal to the proximal esophagus, and some ringing.

After a couple of days on Protonix, I have been waking up less at night, and felt much better, though tonight I had a really bad episode of reflux with some heavy coughing and almost gagging. I'm told there's a risk of this condition getting so bad that things get into the lungs and can cause pneumonia or other very serious respiratory illnesses. Having never had much of a lung problem, do I need to get screened by a pulmonologist(?), or at what stage do I need to start worrying about side effects from the reflux? After the latest incident, i'm presenting with what sounds like some fluid in the lungs and wheezing, though it's getting better. Monday I go out of the country to South America for about a week.
posted by arimathea to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Acid reflux was a nightmare for me. In my experience prilosec worked better than protonix and nexium better than both, but after a year they all stopped working. I was really very worried about the health of my lungs (I've had pneumonia twice) and Barett's. Go to the doctor. If it's not the reflux, it could be plain ol' bronchitis. Either way, you don't want to travel with it and the medicine the doctor gives you could make you a lot more comfortable.

I would say though, that the medicine I was given for my lungs made the reflux worse in some instances. Some theorize that since most of these medicines work by relaxing the airways, they also could relax the esophagus and make reflux worse. Albuterol made it worse, anti-inflammatory meds like Singulair weren't as bad.

Either way, there are a lot of dietary theories about eosinophilic esophagitis, mostly revolving around food allergies. At the point where the meds stopped working, I overhauled my diet (paleo diet, though with some modern products like kefir) and eliminated both conditions. Ironically enough, though fat is often blamed for these conditions, I did well on a high-fat, low carb diet, though the paleo diet can be low-fat. I followed it religiously for about six months, but now that the condition is gone, I cheat quite a lot have beer and other trigger foods about once a week without a problem. I guess my diet now is simply carb-limited, since particular foods didn't seem to make a difference, I'm not sure about my own food allergies. It's very one point I figured I was heading for an early death since I was struggling with GERD at such a young age.
posted by melissam at 12:32 AM on January 26, 2008

I also had a reduction in reflux going low carb. I also found that not overeating and/or snacking for some time before bed helped tons.

There is a theory that asthma comes from gerd, I know that when I'm having reflux I also have asthma problems.

Have you been tested for h. pylori?
posted by gjc at 6:46 PM on January 26, 2008

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