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Avatar universal

Mystery stomach & chest pain. Can perimenopause cause this?

Sorry this post is so long, but I've been on a long, expensive medical journey.

I've never had digestive problems of any kind until I started having perimenopause symptoms a little over a year ago. I am 49.  My hormone symptoms last year were pounding heartbeat, mild frequent hot flashes and skipping periods.  At the exact same time I started having chronic burping of air that I did not think to be related. My doctors dismissed the burping as anything serious, but it was extremely uncomfortable.  I was having to burp to relieve pressure in my chest every minute or so, all day long. It would go away when I laid down.   These episodes came and went without a discernible pattern.

A few months later I got on bioidentical hormones through a menopause doctor. The hormones only seemed to help my mild hot flashes.  They were too expensive for that to be the only thing they helped, so I discontinued them in June after being on them about 5 months.

Then in early July the burping and pounding heartbeat came back strongly but was accompanied by nausea, no energy, and just generally not feeling good.  On July 14th, I went for a run and started having chest tightness and shortness of breath.  Of course this concerned me and my doctor that I was having a heart attack.  I had an ECG, chest x-ray, echo stress test, and chest CT with contrast to check for pulmonary embolism.  Showed zero problems with my heart.  Also had pulmonary tests but zero issues with lungs too.  Then two weeks later the constant chest pressure became stomach pain.  I also began to only be able to eat small amounts of food at a time. I was full like I had a whole dinner after just a few bites.

So then I saw a GI doctor and had all sorts of blood & stool tests for celiac, parasites, thyroid, you name it I had it.  I also had an upper GI endoscopy but I threw up the morning of the test in spite of having fasted.  They had to abort the scope because there was still food in my stomach even though I had not eaten for at least 12 hours and had thrown up a few hours earlier.  I stayed on a mostly liquid diet and they did the scope again two days later.  The doctor reported that I have an absolutely normal looking stomach.  Took biopsies - all negative.  No H. pylori or anything else.

Had gastric emptying test a week later due to the food in my stomach after fasting.  That test was also absolutely normal.

Now instead of not being able to eat very much, I'm starving all the time even though most food is unappetizing to me so I don't really ever want to eat but finally do because of the tummy growling.  My digestive processes seem all mixed up and elimination is no longer regular either - probably due to all the changes in my eating patterns.

The next test to be done is a colonoscopy because the only thing found at all so far was microscopic traces of blood in a stool test the day after I had the aborted upper GI scope.  

Now that I'm feeling a bit better and can step back and look at the progression of symptoms, I'm wondering if all of it is hormone related since I had been taking estrogen and progesterone until a couple of weeks before the chest pain/stomach pain emergence.    

I've spent a fortune and lost a lot of work time to this, yet all tests have been normal and none of my doctors know what to do with me now other than the colonoscopy to rule out problems in that area as well.  I’m expecting that to also be absent any problems.  Need to have it done anyway though since I’m about to turn 50.
9 Responses
Avatar universal
Two things come to mind that may be doing this heart thing and burping.  Other than the hormones you took for a while, if you can recall taking a new medicine or a diff brand of vitamins a few weeks before all this started, then THAT could be the culprit.  If not, then if you are carrying around extra weight, particularly if your tummy kind of swells up, that will also cause your symptoms.  I am overweight and have a big tummy, so I get short of breath, but no heart pounding.

The only time I've had a pounding heart was a thyroid problem, but you had that checked.  And I went thru menopause, and while it drove me plumb crazy, I did not have your symptoms.  But that doesn't mean it isn't the cause.  You can post in the forum for hormones or menopause or whatever might be in the forum list that talks about symptoms from perimenopause or menopause.

Now, they have found some blood in your stool, and this suggests to me perhaps you have a blockage of some kind, hence the colonoscopy.  OR since you've noticed you've had digestive issues, particularly if you've had constipation, that COULD be what's going on.  To help digestion, the three main things to do are:  Exercise regularly (sounds like you do), drink six glasses of water daily, and slowly add more fiber to your meals (oat cereal, whole wheat bread, vegies).  And you can get some "probiotics" in you, like Activia yogurt or Acidophilus milk in the grocery store, consume for two weeks.  For your burp situation, an ordinary "Original Alka Seltzer" is really good for that.  Those would be my thoughts.
First I just wanted to say I am sorry for all that you have been put through by first your body and then by the Medical community although I am impressed by the volumes of diagnostic workup and tests they did for you. Also understand that just because the standard medical tests did not find a disease or issue, this does not mean that there is nothing wrong. I also started having digestive issues with what I thought at first was just a series of unrelated gastroenteritis attacks. Well after I lost half my body weight and had to have a central IV catheter pumping nutrients directly into my heart because I was vomitting daily and unable to eat, I finally got my GI doctor to agree to transfer my care to the Center for Digestive Diseases at MUSC. I ended up having something called Spinchter of Oddie dysfunction Type II and after a one day procedure, was actually able to eat again and then shortly therafter to return to work. I wont say that I am "well" now because gradually many of my same symptoms are returning but I will say that the doctors there saved my life. My advice would be to take it one day at a time and see how you feel. Try a gluten free diet and see if it helps and then do the same thing with lactose...If you dont get better or you get worse, find a good GI doctor who listens and who does his/her best to find out what is wrong and/or to get you better.
535822 tn?1443980380
I would also suggest asking for a heavy metal toxicity test ...see whats going on ,many have environmental allergies
Avatar universal
Thank you for the reply.   I'm about to decide that the heart pounding is most likely hormone related and the digestive issues are a separate issue. A cardiologist I was sent to last year said the heart pounding was excess adrenaline in my body due to hormone imbalance from perimenopause.

I did have a change in one of my vitamins, but discontinued all supplements when this started.  It's been over two months now, so if that was a cause it should have resolved a long time ago.

I think I have a couple of different things going on that just happened to occur at the same time.  I think I had a digestive issue brewing and hormones might have just made it worse.   Stress is a common trigger for the digestive issues and the hormone situation has definitely been stressful!

Since I first posted, I've seen my GI doctor again and he is pending towards a diagnoses of IBS-C.   We are looking into the possibility of SIBO by seeing if a course of antibiotics helps the symptoms.  SIBO would cause the excessive burping.

I will try Alka Seltzer to see if it has any affect on the burping.

One thing that definitely makes me worse now is adding fiber, or at least the insoluble kind.  I've actually had to reduce my fiber intake to settle my stomach.    I drink plenty of water throughout the day and I'm fairly physically active.  I also have been eating probiotic yogurt daily, but I had to stop eating it recently.  It was making my stomach hurt worse.

I've discovered that a primary treatment method for both IBS AND SIBO is a FODMAPS exclusion diet which I started yesterday and felt better almost immediately.  It was the first day that eating didn't result in pain and my burping was greatly diminished.

I think the problem with fiber and yogurt is actually that the sources I've been eating are high in FODMAPS.

I've found it mentioned on several government medical websites that IBS gets better after menopause.  That would definitely seem to indicate that it is hormone sensitive at least, even if it's not caused by hormones.
Avatar universal
Good idea.  I was wanting to have some alternative testing done before the digestive odyssey started, but the process got hijacked by all of the other testing and now I'm out of money.  I actually have an appointment scheduled with a doctor who explores things like that, but am going to have to postpone for a while.  They don't take insurance and I'm cash strapped after so many expensive tests.

I'm going to address the SIBO possibility and see if antibiotics and diet change help.  If they do, then I will still need to find out the cause of the SIBO since that's not a cause in itself but merely a symptom.
Avatar universal
KITTY, that is very interesting about FODMAPS and the foods that should be eliminated.  I hope that continues to help you a lot.  Maybe it'll turn out to be just a few foods are creating problems for you.

By the by, you said your doc was leaning towards IBS-C, which is constipation, and that blockage can cause that SIBO bacteria to form in the small intestine, creating some of your symptoms.  If you ARE constipated a lot, until you get yourself straight with foods and so forth, Senocot is a natural over-the-counter pill that can help bowels to move if they've gotten stuck, you can take one pill one day, and another pill the next day, and you should get a bowel movement.

I am wondering if they are still going to do a colonoscopy?  I might point out it only looks at the large intestine, whereas it seems the small intestine causing SIBO may have a problem with it, maybe caused by your constipation, and if you decide against colonoscopy, keep in mind an ultrasound of your small intestine (and large, if you want) is much less expensive and will show if there's any unusual blockage in there.

And since you've posted now about constipation, the blood MIGHT be from hemorrhoids that develop from straining, it's swollen vascular tissue that comes and goes, and hems will bleed when hard waste goes by them.  If the blood you had was bright red, then that does not necessarily indicate a blockage in your colon anywhere, but rather is more likely hems.  Keep us posted when you want to, it would be good to know what the final outcome is.
Avatar universal
I just did a 7 day course of the antibiotic noroxin and it seems to have fixed me right up.  My symptoms were 80% gone within two days and are now pretty much 100% gone.  I still get a bit of burping now and again and can't eat big meals but I feel really good for the first time in a couple of months.  I'm waiting to see if this return to normal is going to stay around a while.

The constipation was a new problem for me, so I'm not sure if I could get hemorroids that quickly or not.   I would expect that to be more likely though than that I have anything else more serious wrong.  Thanks for the Senocot recommendation.

I did have an abdominal ultrasound early on and no abnormalities were seen, but I am still going to do the colonoscopy.  It's scheduled next Thursday.  At this point I think my problem has been resolved, but at 49.8 years old, I was due soon for one anyway and it will make my doctor happy.

After my scope, I will have to see what he is going to end up rendering as a diagnosis considering the positive response to the antibiotic.  Once I get the "official" word, I'll post what that ends up being.

Now how I ended up with SIBO, I don't know.  A not so great diet for the last couple of years probably didn't help.  I used to eat much healthier when I worked from home but that changed when I took a regular job again.  Time to focus on proper diet again.
Avatar universal
I have the exact same symptoms as you!  I am 47 and somewhere between perimenopause and menopause.  My cycle stopped for 100 days after I went off the bio-identical hormones then returned but is now completely unpredictable.

I have not found an answer either.  But when my hormones fluctuate, I go through all the symptoms you have listed.

Please keep posting...I've lost all hope in the medical community being able to help me manage these symptoms and I just can't take any more of these tests by doctors who don't want to investigate if it's all related to my hormones.  Seems their failure to think outside their box is just costing me a ton of money, time and frustration.  

I truly don't understand why menopause is treated so callously by medical professionals and put off as something we just have to live with and suffer through in spite of our scientific ability to investigate true solutions.

Thank you so much for sharing and letting others like me know we are not alone in this.  It is life-altering and so much more than a "little nuisance" symptom.
Avatar universal
You're not alone. I too went through a year of debilitating symptoms that include everything that you've listed. It IS hormone related, I've tracked them on a calendar for almost 2 years. I'm 54 and still peri-menopausal. I still have all those symptoms but they're not as bad since I've been on a very good vitamin supplement regimen through doTERRA essential oils. I've been able to decrease my Rx's for anxiety and severe insomnia, though I'm still on an anti-depressant. My OB-GYN doctor seemed clueless with all my symptoms. He was SURE that they couldn't all be related to hormone fluctuations, and another Endocrinologist wanted to me to spend lots of money on all kinds of tests. I'd already run through our health savings account and I couldn't face even more bills so I started educating myself. I'm in a much better place but I really just want it all to be over. Good luck. You really are NOT ALONE nor are you crazy. I promise.
Avatar universal
Great to hear about doTerra! I use their oil as well. Which ones would you recommend for the symptoms of nausea, belching, poor appetite? I am 47 years old and slowly entering perimenopause... Many thanks!!!
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