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Respiratory Disorders Community
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Avatar universal

GERD

So pleased I found this website-after having several tests and after being told I was a unique case, I now know I'm not the only person with my problem, which is as follows...
9 years ago, I had a breakdown and afterwards moved into a place for 6 months where the lady let her dogs run all over the beds. I had cats in my childhood and was fine with them, until developing a cat fur allergy in the last 4 years of their life, and ever since then. Since moving out of the lady's house, I have ever since had the most almighty, hacking, crackly, phlegm producing cough which sounds very similar to a smokers cough-I have NEVER ever smoked in my life. It is definitely worse at night and first thing in the morning. Neither have I had any pets since.
I can predict when it will be at its worst, especially after doing a food allergy test for 3 wks where the cough still existed, but no where near as bad as it is generally. It was confirmed that I do not have a food allergy. Other allergy tests included showing I have allergies to cat fur and dust mites only. I've taken all precautions, ie hypoallergenic bed covers, damp dusting.
I have been up to the Royal Brompton chest hospital privately where they did various lung function tests, prescribed me various useless inhalers, and they STILL couldn't decide if I was asthmatic, after 3 years!!!! They promised me loads of investigations to be sent in the post and then in the meantime craftily discharged me. I have since moved further away from the hospital so its not so easy for me to go back. No cough medicines, inhalers, antibiotics or cough sweets make any difference. I have also been on Gaviscon, Peptac and Nexium but to no avail.
After 9 years of pushing for further investigations, I have only just had a pH monitoring study which shows I have a borderline hiatus hernia and 60% failed peristalsis.
After keeping a food allergy diary, it shows that I ALWAYS cough within half an hour of going to bed. Sometimes I can be extremely wheezy, to the point I wonder if I am asthmatic but other times not so much or not at all. I get reflux a lot too and have had a gastroscopy. Reflux often starts after a coughing fit which regularly happens in the morning, which is no doubt due to the borderline hiatus hernia.
Coughing fits often occur within half an hour of eating/drinking, which is what made me think it was a food allergy. It ALWAYS occurs after drinking wine, without fail which made me think it was sulphite allergy. CT of my sinuses shows no abnormality. I constantly get profuse, clear watery phlegm throughout the day at the back of my nose and runs down to the back of my throat. I need a tissue with me at all times, which I frequently use to spit into. I have been prescribed to carry out nasal douching by ENT. Makes no difference, as well as using Sterimar and steroid nasal sprays, which works temporarily but just give me nosebleeds. Also I cannot live on these things for the rest of my life, as there is obviously an unknown underlying problem which needs to be sorted permanently.

At one point, I even thought I had a mild form of cystic fibrosis. I've had blood tests and also a camera down my nose which shows inflammation. I have a feeling regularly of a frog in my throat. Just recently, I get a tickly throat which literally wakes me up in the early hours of the morning, which I can only shift by coughing. I don't think its pollution, as I live in the country. I have also tried Cider vinegar, which doesn't work either, and none of these are long term solutions to my mysterious cough. I had whooping cough as a baby and get mild psoriasis on my scalp. I had wheeziness for a year aged 14 and was again put on inhalers. They couldn't decide back then if I was asthmatic either. The wheeziness came and went after a year.
My GP put it down to dustmites, after an allergy test. But it doesn't matter where I am, how clean the house is (my house isn't that dirty, nor does it have mould) or what country I'm in, I still have the same problem. Its incredibly embarrassing at times, as it can also start at anytime including walking down the road and people think I have the lergy in public. It can be extremely exhausting, and I also regularly have a runny nose and on occasions sneezing follows. Its such second nature now, I lose track. Its disruptive to those people around me too. I don't know anyone in my family who coughs perennially like I do. I know its perennial rhinitis, but what to do about it? I'M IN ABSOLUTE DESPAIR!!
I'm quite cross its taken me all these years of doing my own research and getting stroppy with doctors to push me to have further investigations, since I'm now at the 3rd hospital to try and get answers. They are not the ones who have to live with it. I'm only too pleased I have found this website. I am seeing the gastroenterologist again soon, and not looking forward to it as I know they want to discharge me. I won't allow them to do so until its sorted. I don't know what else to do, all I know is that I can't live with it. I'm in absolute desperately in despair now for a long term solution. Gastroenterology may suggest a hiatus hernia repair, which I'm happy to have done but I don't see how this can fix the coughing and wheeziness long term. I am a 36 year old  female non smoker, have had this problem for 9 years, I don't drink alcohol and am not overweight at all, and never have been. I work as a gardener for a living so I am regularly out in the fresh air, and still have this problem. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. As a last resort I may try hypnosis in case its an anxiety thing, which I don't think it is, as it starts up even when I am totally relaxed on holiday. Many, many thanks.  
5 Responses
Avatar universal
I am by not an expert.  I have severe asthma with acid reflux trigger.  I have had acid reflux so bad that I developed severe laryngitis.  An ENT told me it was reflux that caused my laryngitis by the inflamation pattern on my vocal cords.  

This is a specific type of reflux called laryngeal-pharyngeal reflux (LPR) for short.  With this type of reflux, the acid comes up into the pharynx and sinuses and can be inahled.  Symptoms are post nasal drip, chronic cough, wheezing (ocassionally) and possible infections.  It can cause any respiratory symptom.   many people are miss diagnosed with asthma when they really have LPR.  I can cause EVERY symptom you describe, even the timing of your symptoms with sleeping and eating.  

I would strongly suggest that you discus this possibility with your doctor, after doing some research on it yourself and print some articles from reputable web sites.  I would suggest that you research life style changes for reflux and try to get a doctor to presribe a GOOD proton pump inhibitor and maybe some prescription strength ranitidine to layer.  

Also, research your failed peristasis and be prepared to discus that thoroughly with your GI tomorrow.  My guess is that this is part of the key for you.  Perstasis is the contraction of smooth muscles that keeps food moving through the digestive track.  It works in the esophagus to keep acid in the stomach.  There is medicine that can be used to stimulate these contractions.  If you are failing to have these contractions, where do the doctors expect the acid to go?  

I hope these thoughts help.  Keep us posted on your apointment.

Take care.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for informing me of your experience and advice, is very interesting as I've never heard before of that specific reflux type, LPR . It certainly sounds very similar indeed to what I have. As much as I wouldn't wish this on anyone, its reassuring to know I am not the only person who has this problem as I was starting to think I was. I shall definitely make note of this and mention it to the gastroenterologist when I see her at the end of the month and will keep you updated.
Once again, many thanks is very kind of you and very much appreciated indeed.
Avatar universal
You are very welcome.  It is very comforting to know that someone else has the same problems you have.  That is one thing I like about these types of boards.  It is possible to find someone who truly understands what you are going through because they have been there too.  Others may try to empathize, but they really don't quite get it.  

I pray that things go well with your apointment.  It may be helpful if you find some articles to print to take with you.  I have found that quite helpful at times.
Avatar universal
Hi, just to let you know I went to the gastroenterologist yesterday, and yes!! Finally after 9 years, I have found the answer. After having my pH study results back, it was found I have a weakness in my lower oesophageal sphincter, known as OPR (Oesophageal Pharyngeal Reflux), which sounds very similar to LPR, which I can definitely relate to. I have since discovered there are so many different types of reflux, they are all anatomically very close.

I went to see the consultant armed with all the information on LPR, and mentioned your extremely kind response and the symptoms and she listened nodding and smiling, saying 'Thats exactly it!' I was thrilled!! She wanted to prescribe me motility drugs to improve things, but seeing as I have recently found out I'm pregnant, which I'm obviously really chuffed about also! For now, there is a limit as to what drugs I can take and any surgery will be postponed for a year from now. In the meantime, the reflux will get worse no doubt, as bub gets bigger but hey! I've put up with it all these years, so another won't (hopefully) matter too much.  

The surgery will apparently consist of wrapping part of the stomach around the lower part of the oesophagus to strengthen it. I have to say, I didn't expect it to come to this, but seeing as I've tried most drugs now of which don't work, I believe this is now a last resort. Obviously I'm happy its nothing serious, but I'm sure you also agree that anything invasive as a last resort is a step forward to a better quality of life. I just hope I see an improvement after the treatment.

I would like to take this opportunity in the meantime, to wish you all the best. I feel like people like you deserve the best in life. I would like to keep in contact on this website, if this is Ok with you. So in a years time, when I have the surgery, I will have to keep you updated. Take care!
Avatar universal
Hi, I am so glad that you have found answerss for your situation.  Even if you do have to put off treatment for a while.  Did your doctor tell you that you can take calcium and magnesium anti-acids?  Those might be helpful for the time being.  

Yes, I do agree about the surgery.  My doctor said that same thing when I asked her about the options.  It is invasive and a last resort.  I pray that it will be successful for you.  Hpefully the motility drugs will work for you.  When life is difficult and meds aren't working, and a surgery can fix it.  Go for it!!  Oh, I think the surgery is called a Nissan Fundu-----  something or other.  LOL...  I can't remember.  A friend lovingly calls her procedure Nissan.

I wish you the best with your pregnancy.  I pray that you bond with the little one soon.  

It would be fine for you to contact me within the medhel site.

Take care and God bless.
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