Dr. Tinkelman I Would Greatly Appreciate Your Opinion!
Dear Dr. Tinkelman,
(Please forgive the lengthiness of this), I have undergone many tests in hopes of finding a cause for my symptoms. I had a spirometry exactly a year ago. No evidence of restrictive or obstructive lung disease (hallelujah!) but it was noted that I had some curvature indicating "minimal upper airway disease". It certainly doesn't feel minimal and I'm concerned about having or developing a type of chronic bronchitis. I'm a non-smoker but was around 2nd hand smoke from birth, to age 20 (my mother smoked but my dad did not). I'm now age 50.
My Symptoms: Constant need to clear throat-mucous, especially mornings and after eating. Yes I do have moderate esophagitis and moderate gastritis, plus a 'mild' hiatus hernia (diagnosed via upper endoscopy, very recently). My Gastroenterologist, was very unclear as to whether or not my GERD is causing me the athma type symptoms. I will add that I have an upper airway irritation (mild hurting) when breathing deeply and/or an urge to cough with deep breaths -- like a chest cold (Can come and go the same day!). I'm thinking it is relieved once I clear my throat repeatedly, as if it clears the irritated airway (I don't suffer any outward sinusitis). I'm treated for asthma and GERD but the symptoms persist -- also working on losing weight (high-moderate but not severe obesity).
My question: Can my moderate esophageal inflammation be a cause for this and is there probability for it to turn into a type of COPD (chronic bronchitis)?
(FINAL NOTE: I do not cough up mucous/phlegm but the need to do strong throat-clearing, causes further throat irritation, horse voice. No rattle sounds of mucous deeper in my chest. The throat clearing can be fatiguing! I do get mild to moderate bronchospasm from this, like asthma.)
The most common reasons for repeated throat clearing are acid reflux and post-nasal drip, secondary to chronic inflammation of the nose and/or sinuses. Acid reflux can be associated with chronic phlegm production and worsening of pre-existing asthma but it does not cause COPD and your symptoms are not very suggestive of chronic bronchitis, related or unrelated to reflux..
Thanks so very much! You have provided me some reassurance that I suspected to be true. My normal spirometry was my biggest stress relief but the ongoing mucous production has been literally life altering! I do indeed believe that my acid reflux disease is largely, if not totally responsible for this very undesirable symptom.
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