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Heartburn and Chest Wall Pain

About a month ago, I started experiencing some pain in my chest and mid-back. I shrugged it off at first as muscle pain, assuming I strained something. After a couple of days, it occurred to me that it might be heartburn. I had one isolated case of heartburn a few years earlier that had scared me enough to go to the hospital and get an ekg (which came back normal -- I was told I have the heart of an athlete) so I thought that might have happened again. However, after several days of trying OTC antacids, the pain persisted. So, I made an appointment and saw my doctor.

My doctor asked a lot of questions, felt around for tenderness and told me that since I'm fairly young (32), fit and a healthy eater, he wasn't worried about heart problems. He told me that it was heartburn and prescribed Prilosec. He told me to take the drug for 10 days or so and I should be okay. So I did. And I felt great after a couple of days -- all symptoms disappeared. However, when I stopped using the Prilosec after 10 days, my symptoms came back in 3-4 days. I thought it was my fault -- after being really careful of how I was eating, I had some pasta and a glass of wine one night and I assumed that caused the renewed irritation. So, since I had been given a 30 days prescription for Prilosec, I went back on it for another 10 days. My symptoms once again went away. I've also been extra careful about my eating habits. No spicy or acidic foods, no beverages other than water, etc. I even tilted my bed.

However, even after all that, when I stopped the Prilosec the second time (a couple of days ago), the symptoms started to return. I've made an appointment to see my doctor but my question is this: What should I be expecting from my doctor at this point? Should I be referred to an gastroenterologist or internal medical specialist of some sort? Should some tests be run? Or, is it reasonable for him to just put me back on the Prilosec for a while longer?

What should be my concerns? The pain alone is really draining, but my larger concern is whether I should be worried about an increased risk of cancer or something like that. My understanding is that not all reflux problems are corrosive -- what is typical with someone like me?

Thank you for you help!
1 Responses
Avatar universal
I would definitely ask to be referred to a gastro.  You probably should have a barium swallow or upper endoscopy done so you can pinpoint exactly what is going on.  Be careful taking too many Prilosec or other meds for this.  There are some intense side effects to them; that is why you are only supposed to take them for 10 days at a time with a break.  I have a hiatal hernia with similar symptoms.  Aloe juice seems to help a lot.  There are a lot of natural products you can look into for GERD like symptoms, but I would get the gastro's opinion before you do anything else.  Good luck.
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