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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Practically Constant Acid Reflux

 ConceptCheck - Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:25 am

I have acid reflux that affects me at all hours. What led me to the forums was that it has gotten so bad, the pain in my upper abdomen woke me up from a sound sleep. The bouts of pain last for only about a half an hour every time it happens, but I can't seem to figure out the pattern of when the pain will come.
Right away, I will concede that my lifestyle is not very consistent (by way of meals and hours of sleep). I'm 19, in college, and can't always guarantee when my next real meal will come. However, the acid reflux has gotten worse in the last fifteen days -- and I've been home for those days for winter break. My diet is the same as it was before I left for school and I never experienced this before.
As added information, I take Ortho-Tri-Cyclen Lo and have been since this past August. I didn't have any noticeable side effects in the first few months, so I continue to take it. I also suffer from emetophobia, the fear of throwing up. Needless to say, with every bout of acid reflux comes intense fear and anxiety.
My question, then, is if anyone could narrow down why this is happening, and if I should seek any kind of treatment.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Jan 04, 2009 10:18 pm

User avatar Hi there -

Your situation sounds fairly classic. Acid reflux is almost always caused by an incometent lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and usually doesn't announce itself til sometime in adolescence or early adulthood. The problem is usually aggravated by stress, and there are few situations more stressful than being your age and being in college. That may sound like overstatement now, but looking back a few years from now I think you'll realize it's true.

The OrthoTriCyclen is very unlikely to be in any way responsible for this. The other stuff I already mentioned almost certainly is, and your diet may contribute too (or not, depending more on what you eat than when, although both can have an effect). Just for the record, citrus juices, tomato juice, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol all can either provoke extra acid production and/or weaken the LES.

There are some very effective medications for this. Trying to reduce the ingestion of things that will aggravate it (above) will obviously also help. See your doctor about this, and meanwhile (and maybe even afterward) try an old-school remedy: try elevating the head of your bed -- the whole bed, by placing something under the feet of it -- about six inches. This may sound weird and may even feel that way at first, but for a while at least -- til this thing is brought under better control with medication -- this can help at night, which is the worst time for acid reflux because you're horizontal and the stomach's contents can just slide on up. This helps keep that from happening.

I hope this is all helpful to you. If you have any further questions please feel free to follow up with us here. Good luck to you, with this, school, and life in general.

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