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Avatar universal

Persistent upper abdominal pain

Hi all.  I'm posting here because I'm at my wit's end with what has become a chronic pain issue.  Starting about two months ago when I missed a couple of prilosec doses, I started having nausea, then severe upper abdominal pain.  A GI specialist put me on 40 mg Protonix but I continued to have these "attacks" of severe pain or sick stomach feeling, usually after eating, but sometimes on an empty stomach and occasionally at night.  I had an upper endoscopy and bloodwork which showed nothing except signs of GERD in my esophagus.  A couple of days after that I woke up with a warm feeling in my stomach which I thought was hunger, so I had a piece of bread and some lactose-free milk and immediately got sick, which lasted the whole night and left me feeling very sore on my right abdomen, around the ribs.  After that, I decided something was really wrong with me and so I drove myself to the nearest ER.  They did more blood work and an ultrasound which (of course!) showed nothing.  They were willing to do an additional test but I declined (which I now regret).  I went back on prilosec once a day after this.

This problem has continued but was more sporadic and emerges at nighttime.  I'd have good days and then all of a sudden, pain at 1 am, usually right in the middle of my stomach between navel and breastbone, sometimes a pain towards the left rib, and almost always a dull or burning pain on my right ribs.  I also will feel a sense of fullness or pressure on the right side after eating.  I started seeing a naturopath and was prescribed a wide variety of supplements and tinctures but continue to have these attacks.  I went for 11 days without one, then the night before Memorial Day it all came back, and I could not eat a thing that day without getting sick to my stomach.  A few days later I'm back to normal.  Then this past Sunday and Monday it happened again, after about two weeks.  I often double-dose on prilosec when this happens and it does almost nothing.  The only thing that stops the pain is taking a vicodin or percocet, which I hate to take but otherwise I'll be up all night in misery.  After this last attack I took myself to another ER, but as my bloodwork was once again fine they refused to do anything for me other than some pain meds that helped for about 3 hours.

I did a SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) test with the ND and it came back positive, but I have a hard time believing that problem would cause this much pain.  I'm barely sleeping more than 5 hours a night, and it's usually 2 at most when I have a really bad attack.  I have another ultrasound scheduled for the 20th but I am skeptical it will show anything.  I would LOVE to have a HIDA scan to at least rule out the gallbladder but none of the doctors seem to want to go there.  If this is just acid reflux I don't understand how it has intensified so greatly.  I've had heartburn sensations only a couple of times during this period, but I do have recurrent chest pains during the attacks.  I'm now sleeping with my bed propped up on some books, I eat dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime, I've avoided all trigger foods, and yet I still have these attacks.  This week it has gone on almost all week and I'm starting to get very depressed and scared it will not end.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
And your blood work is all consistently normal? Hopefully this is just a battle of acid reflux, but do keep an eye open for additional, temporal signs like dark urine, loose stools, etc. Gallbladder issues can be sneaky and difficult to pin down. And your doctors can only work with what they see, which in your case is elusive. Been there, done that. Hoping that some form of diagnosis happens soon for you.  
Avatar universal
It all sounds very familiar to what I've been going through for a long while.the pain coming nearly always at night,issue with eating and the nausea.I also had bloods and other tests but it was the ultrasound that found my gallstones,until then the medic were thinking NALD none alcohol liver decease.so I've had mine out and the gallbladder too 9 days ago all's gone well until I woke during the night with exactly the same pain so I'm hoping it's just after pain.the ultrasound is great technology I hope for your sake n someone who definitely knows your pain that they get it found n sorted quickly.good luck.
Avatar universal
My dad is convinced it's my gallbladder, considering the family history.  But I can't get these doctors to look past the clean bloodwork.  Last night was another rough night.  About 3 hours of sleep, then woke up with severe cramps and spent 20 mins on the toilet (no yellow stool though).  Then chest pain hit around 6 am like usual.  I took a vicodin and it did nothing until about 8 am when the pain stopped.  Not sure whether to go back to ER or what.
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