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GERD & Cancer

I am a white 34 year old female, non-smoker/never smoked a day in my life, and rarely drink. I went to the ER Friday evening/Saturday morning because I had chest, arm, and back pain. They drew blood, did an ekg, and an xray. They came back normal, and diagnosed me with GERD and torn muscles in my upper back, and muscle strain in my elbows. I believe I've had GERD for most or all of my life, but without the heartburn. I never realized what I had. When I was in my early 20's, I would notice a gurgling noise/sensation coming from my throat, mainly after eating, and I would also wake up with bad breath with a funny filmy feeling on my teeth. I was also prone to developing cavities, sensitive teeth, and had various dental work done. I would wake up coughing a lot in the middle of the night, and would wake up with a scratchy throat.  I also have a history of allergies, mild asthma, and severe sinus issues.  I never knew these things were GERD, and I never even heard of GERD.

The past few years have been extremely stressful for me, especially last year, when I developed chronic insomnia, nightmares, bad eating habits, and reduced physical activity.  In May of last year, I decided to take birth control (Levora 15/30) because of heavy and painful periods.  The first week of taking the pill, I developed digestive upset, queasiness, and felt very tired during the first week.  These symptoms subsided.  The following month, when I was on the second pack of birth control pills, I woke up in the middle of the night with severe heartburn and sweating. The previous night I had tacos for dinner, and had some ice cream for dessert.  I never had this kind of reaction to food in my entire life.  I realized that it was probably the birth controls that caused the heartburn. When I finished the second pack, I decided to go off the pill, because of the digestive issues I developed, combined with the fact that they made me tired all of the time.  I don't think it's a coincidence that I just developed heartburn out of the blue like that. I feel that the birth control pills changed something in my GI tract.  I thought stopping the birth control pills would stop all of the digestive issues for good.  The heartburn went away for about a month and half, and came back in August.  I still had the insomnia and severe stress during the summer.  It kept on for a few weeks before it improved.  I also developed congestion and pain in the ears, along with throat irritation.   I never took anything for it, because I thought it would just go away on its own.   It improved a lot, but didn't completely go away.  In the fall, I still had minor issues with heartburn, but nothing I couldn't handle.  In October, I took myself to the ER where I was diagnosed with a panic attack.  In November, I developed a weird pain inside my left armpit, but there aren't any lumps present, and it doesn't hurt to press into that area. The only symptom I had with it was a runny nose.  I am not sure if that's just stress/anxiety related, or if GERD can cause pain in that area.  It comes and goes, and doesn't bother me that much.  

I feel guilty for not treating my GERD in my early 20's, but I didn't know what it was at the time.  I just thought my symptoms were allergy/sinus related. Now with the heartburn, chest pain, and right abdominal pain, I am really worried. I didn't know until recently that long-term GERD could cause Barrett's Esophagus/Cancer. I don't really have painful swallowing or anything like that.  I don't have trouble swallowing, except sometimes I feel like there are tiny pieces of food at the entrance of my throat, but isn't bothersome. Food doesn't get regurgitated back into my mouth or anything.

What are the odds that I would develop GI cancer at my age, with all of the symptoms I experienced for almost 15 years? I am really scared. I realize that my symptoms are most likely GERD/acid reflux, but it's still distressing to know that GERD could eventually lead to cancer. :(

The ER doctors were very efficient in treating me. They prescribed Pepcid AC 40 mg for two weeks to treat my symptoms.  I am on my second day of being on the pepcid, and the chest and upper right abdominal pain is almost non-existent. I had some abdominal pain before I ate, but it went away.  The attending doctor assured me that I most likely don't have any serious underlying conditions, because my blood work and xrays were normal, but suggested that I still have an endoscopy done to figure out what's causing my GERD.  
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329165 tn?1515471990
Hi there,

I am about your age (36) and have had uncontrolled GERD for most of my life and now I have significant Barrets Esophagus.  Barrets can lead to a deadly type of cancer, but having said that:  only about 1% of cases progress to this type of cancer.

You can start being pro-active by modifying your diet, elevate the head of your bed and by getting a referral to a good Gastro Enterologist.  He can do an Endoscopy and take it from there.

All the best and let us know how you are doing.
Helpful - 0
620923 tn?1452915648

  Hi...Make sure u go to a GI dr, and do not rely on what u got from the ER....the meds need to be a PPI and one that helps heal damage that might be there...not sure pepcid is one that will do that.

I strongly suggest u find a good GI dr and get a full check up.....and modify ur diet in the meantime too.See the health pages located at the bottom of this page.

Post an update on ur progress

Helpful - 0
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