Let me start off by saying that I am a 21 year old healthy male that is slightly overweight. I have a long history of having an iron gut. Throughout my life I have been able to eat habanero peppers without a single incident of heartburn and large meals with no problems at all. However, on June 6th 2008 (more than a month ago) I ingested a large amount of gin (about half a bottle). Instantly after drinking this gin I started having acid reflux symptoms.
I am not an alcoholic, nor did I have a history of alcohol abuse. I had just turned 21 and had been drinking on and off throughout those recent months. I had interactions with many hard liquors such as whiskey and vodka, but experienced no problems. I had never had gin though, and after the first drink I began experiencing acid reflux-esque symptoms.
My lower throat became irritated and I started coughing. I began burping a lot, having trouble swallowing, experiencing minor shortness of breath, and getting worse morning breath. This all happened suddenly, I could probably count the seconds after drinking the gin.
I visited a GP who ran an EKG, chest x-ray, barium swallow, and many pulmonary tests. All came back fine. Even the Barium Swallow (Upper GI) showed no reflux at all or hernias. However, a gastroenterologist ordered an endoscopy and said he found a "very small hiatal hernia". They did not give me the specifics of the cm's or where it was. I was referred to the gastro via hospital and the report is still not in (after 2 weeks). They aren't telling me much aside from pushing antacids on me.
I've tried Protonix, Nexium, Prevacid, Aciphex, Zegerid, Prilosec, PepcidAC, Zantanc, and Tagamet. None of these have helped at all aside from giving me gas and bloating.
Again, I have never, ever, had a single episode of heartburn in my entire life, save for the night that I drank gin for the first time, it was instant. They can't explain how the hernia could be causing these symptoms if it was so instant. They said it could've "irritated the hernia", but they can't explain how the habanero sauce and other spicy foods I had eaten in the past did nothing to "irritate it".
I don't know if my symptoms are due to this small hernia (as I hear many people have them with no symptoms at all) or something else. I am 21 and do not want to feel like this or take pills for my entire adult life, so I want to opt for surgery if the hernia is indeed the culprit, but they don't recommend it and would rather have me become a life-long antacid customer, something I don't plan on embarking on.
I find it extremely hard to believe that I could go from having an iron gut to developing GERD in an acute, sudden, and instant fashion, merely after trying some new liquor. I am very in tune with my body and would have felt the slightest symptom had this ever been a problem before.
I am extremely skeptical about antacids, and going through an antacid trial without any relief has made me even more discouraged.
I stopped drinking completely and started up some home remedies for indigestion that have greatly helped, but it has not eliminated the symptoms completely. My mother has a hiatal hernia from pregnancy, and her brother has one as well. But both of theirs are large and show up on a barium swallow. They also cause chest pain for them and other symptoms I don't have. Likewise, they don't get the throat burning like I do and they've had theirs their whole lives, so I don't know if genetics is a factor or not. When I lie down, my symptoms get better, and what I eat is not a huge influence as I have it 24/7 around the clock.
I would really like a doctors opinion on how a healthy 21 year old male could suddenly and instantly develop chronic 24/7 round the clock reflux out of the blue, with no inflammation or problems shown in an endoscopy aside from a very minor and small hiatal hernia that cannot even be directly linked to the symptoms (so they say thus far).