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Burning/Gnawing Stomach and Chest--Any Help?
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Burning/Gnawing Stomach and Chest--Any Help?

So, over a month ago, I was laying on the couch and started feeling very sick. My stomach was burning badly, and I was very, very nauseas. I thought I was getting a stomach bug or something. After a long night of stomach pain and chills, I woke up (after getting very little sleep) still feeling sick. The nausea had subsided SOME, but I have the worst gnawing, burning in my stomach area and chest. Two weeks prior to this, I had some sort of stomach virus for a whole two weeks. I believe it was viral because all of my family had it for that two week duration. I thought maybe I had relapsed and had the same virus again. But, I felt some different this time, and it has never gone away. I'm now a whole month out from that night. I'm never comfortable. For the first couple of weeks, I didn't dare to eat much. I lost a lot of weight (about 15 pounds) as a result of it. I'm now eating much more, but I get sick after every meal. If I eat a lot, I get nauseas--but that's not my main symptom. I constantly have gnawing/burning in my stomach and chest. It seems to be up under my ribcage. The burning in my chest is bad, and it radiates into my shoulders. It also radiates into my upper back, and I have backaches throughout much of the day. The burning/gnawing feels like someone has taken their fingernails and scraped all over inside of my chest. It also feels like a tightness in my chest. Sometimes the symptoms can be worse when I breathe deeply. I also have strange looking stools. Sorry to be gross . . . but they are loose looking (which isn't abnormal for me because I have "IBS"), but they have a weird copper/orange color to them. I emphasize that the symptoms are worse after I eat. I actually feel best when I wake up in the morning; I have hunger pains, but the symptoms aren't bad then. Throughout the day, however, I am constantly uncomfortable and in pain. I usually go to bed feeling pretty sick. I feel bloated a lot of the time and feel very full after eating very little. When I'm feeling extremely sick, I'll sometimes get the chills.

Now, here is some additional background. I do have a history of "IBS." My IBS is really related to anxiety. I've had it my whole life. I get cramping and gassy especially when I get nervous about things. But, obviously, that pain is VERY different. It's down in my intestines, and after I use the bathroom, the pain goes away. These symptoms are completely different and are mostly up in my chest and upper abdomen. I also have GERD, but I'm on medicine that really helps that. The type of burning I've described does not feel like acid . . . I've had acid reflux for a long time, and it just doesn't feel the same. My medication has always done an excellent job at controlling the GERD. My doctor tried switching my GERD medications: from Prilosec to Nexium to Aciphex, but it hasn't made a difference. Like I told him, it doesn't feel like reflux at all.

After this went on for a couple of weeks, I went to see the doctor. They ran a bunch of different tests. H. pylori came back negative. My Lipase test came back normal. My white blood cell count was normal. They sent me in for an endoscopy: they found NOTHING abnormal--no ulcers, erosion, or anything of the sort. I had an ultrasound--everything looked good. They couldn't seen any stones or anything. Finally, last week, I had a HidaScan with CCK to check my gallbladder--everything there looked "great" as well. So, here I am. I feel sick throughout the day.

The frustrating part is that the doctors I've seen can't figure out what's wrong. My family physician told the endoscopy doctor that I have a history of anxiety and OCD, so they both seem to kind have written it off as anxiety related. I've struggled with anxiety issues (and IBS-type stuff) my whole life, and this is NOT related to anxiety. My family doctor actually told me to take some anti-anxiety medication. I almost think that is humorous . . . I don't see that popping a few benzos will help. It is constant and has nothing to do with stress. It seems to have to do with eating. The onset was acute. I was referred to a gastroenterologist, who basically said the same things. He said I need to try and not THINK about it so much! I tried to explain that I'm not purposefully ruminating on it, but that I think about it because I'm CONSTANTLY feeling sick. The week before seeing him, I had written down what I'd eaten for a week, in hopes it could provide him some insight. He told me he didn't want to see the list and that I shouldn't make a list because it would make my OCD worse! Grrr . . . I tried to explain I just thought it might be helpful for him to see what I am eating and that it had nothing to do with obsessions or compulsions. I told him that I'm a Ph.D. student in a clinical psychology program, and that this isn't OCD/anxiety related! He finally concluded that it is most likely related to my IBS . . . he used the term "postviral IBS." I asked him if IBS isn't just a medical way of saying that there are symptoms, but they don't know what the cause is. He said "yes." I tried to explain that this doesn't seem to be related to my bowels, and that I'm not experiencing cramping or anything. He didn't seem to have an explanation. After persistence on my part, he did order the HidaScan (which came back normal). The last test I'm awaiting is a gastric emptying study. Based on my tests thus far, I suspect that will come back normal as well. I guess I'll find out. I asked the GI doctor how long "postviral" syndromes can last . . . he said it could go on for a long time and be a more chronic-type thing. He said it's a "functional" problem (meaning they don't know what is happening physiologically); thus, there is nothing they can do for treatment.

So . . . does anyone have any ideas? I'm in constant pain.  Please help! I can't believe all of this has resulted in my shooting for advice from strangers on an internet blog--but I'm desparate! Any insight?    
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow!  I have never met anyone with the exact same story as mine!  I don't need to explain my story because you've already told it.  So I have been doing lots of research and it sounds like what we have (on top of the acid reflux and Ibs) is Candida, a yeast fungus(and everyone has some), but ours gets out of control!  It thrives in acidic places like the gut and when it goes crazy it literally forms appendages and cuts through the membranes and tissues and gets in our intestines...thats not good!  Therefore we feel that gnawing that someone is scraping our insides out and it causes all of the symptoms we have that make us feel so sick.  So, the main two things they say to do is eat yogurt every day.  It is very important that you eat the plain with lots of cultures and sugar free! In other words don't get the kind that has corn syrup but the ones that have pectin.  I can't find any that have no sugar of any kind.  Also,  garlic tablets.  Supposedly, this fungas hates garlic.  By the way, if you think you can't tolerate yogurt because of the dairy...eat it anyway and just take imodium (immodium) until you start to feel better.  I have been doing this for about a week and I already feel so much better!  Google all this stuff and you will be amazed!  Good luck!!!  P.S.  Candida thrives on sugar...even fruit, so cut way back until you feel better
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Avatar_m_tn
I got the similiar stuff I have been suffering for almost a year with bloating, weakness, like something did something to my chest and intestins it always in pain and I feel like I am surviving every night, practicaly passing out from pain on my bed, school ***** and I barely have energy to work. I just looked into Candida that something that I will be looking forward to continue research on but I also wonder if there is a test or doctor I can see about mystirious undiagnosed problems that we experiencing. I have already saw my doctor like 100 times, did every possible blood test, everything came back normal. I am just sick of being sick and not able to find what is wrong between my waist up and neck down. Chest pains, stomach gurgling, feels like I have mini heartattacks, hearburns, anxiaty attacks, hives, constipation, unpleasent noises in the stomach, feeling foged in the mind, not always focused.  

Please if any of you guys can provide any more info, I would be thankful.
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Avatar_n_tn
I thought I'd provide a brief update on my above question, since I've now received responses. Like I stated last year, I underwent various tests: ultrasound, hida scan, EGD, blood work, etc. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I had a gastric emptying study, where I ate scrambled eggs and toast with radioactive markers (so the doctors can monitor how fast food leaves your stomach). I had this test done shortly after my post. That test finally showed abnormality, which was somewhat of a relief, since all of my other tests had showed up as normal. Turns out, the doctors think I developed post viral gastroparesis. Gastroparesis basically means that the nerves in your stomach aren't working properly and that your stomach is, in effect, not getting food into your digestive tract as quickly as it should. Food literally just sits in the stomach, causing all sorts of problems. People with diabetes often have trouble with gastroparesis (which literally means paralysis of the stomach). Sometimes, when people get a bacterial or viral infection, they can develop acute gastroparesis; the causes for this are unknown and it is fairly rare. Turns out, that was my problem. If you read my story above, I developed all of the symptoms after a nasty bout with a stomach bug of some kind, which all makes sense now. Also, my symptoms significantly worsened after eating (especially in large amounts).

At any rate, my problems lasted just under six months. In January and February, I noticed that my stomach seemed to be improving and that I was able to eat more and more. I'm now luckily back to a regular diet without any problems, aside from my regular, nervous IBS stomach problems (which are manageable). Most cases of post viral gastroparesis supposedly dissipate within 6-24 months. Luckily, I was on the short end of that spectrum. It was a truly miserable experience. It gave me a lot of empathy for individuals who suffer from chronic-type illnesses . . . or illnesses that are difficult to diagnose or misunderstood. Good luck to anyone out there who is struggling. I hope things get better for you. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Avatar_m_tn
I just read your response and it makes me think that I should go to my doctor and insist on all possible tests that can be done. Brian can you please tell me how your symptoms went away or reduced and if you underwent any terapy or took and meds. Before you got sick did you ever took antibiotics. I took last year in December 2008 for my bad cough, then I felt like this extreme pain underneath my ribcage, like someone took and squized my intestine underneath my liver, after that I had colonoscopy, endoscopy, bloated insanly, doctor found some bug and gave me two week course of antibiotics again that made me very fatiqued and flu like symptoms. I felt paranoid and frustrated I still feed bad now and pain just moved up more up to chest and cage area sometimes I feel like i have little heartattaks. I never felt nausea too much or like puking it was more like something going on with my stomach and chest that makes me extremely tired, and weird/painful sensations in that whole area.  If you guys can give me any more info on this it will help me a lot. Thank you!
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Avatar_f_tn
What brand of yogurt do you buy?
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3137291_tn?1342732093
I have similar symptoms and I sut found out after 5 years that I have H. Pylori and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth also known as SIBO. You can be checked for that by having a lactlose breath test done. It's a simple but time consuming test. You drink this really sour lemon juice stuff (taste like lemonade) and then blow into this weird bag every 15 minutes for 3 hours. It usually takes about 2 weeks for the results to come back. If you've tried everything else and not this test, you should do it. Most GI Dr.'s won't mention the test. It was my Physician who actually thought it would be a good idea and 4 days later i was doing the test. Godd luk :)
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