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Shortness of breath after eating

I am a 26 year old male, and for the past year I have had trouble breathing after I eat a meal. The trouble generally starts 1 hour after I eat.

I have had cardiac workups and also had an upper endoscopy showing minor symptoms of gerd. I was placed on protonix and have had no relief from my symptoms.  My internal med doctor can't determine the connection between eating and the shortness of breath. It gets so bad that after I eat and walk around that my heart pounds hard and fast and pvc's also occur.  There also seems to be some pressure or feeling that the food is backing up back into my throat.  My doctor said that the backup would have to occur immediately and that it wouldn't be causing the shortness of breath.  I am looking for the next place to turn.  I'm trying at this point to get into to see a pulmonologist, as this was recommended by the Lung Line.  Thank you for your help.
12 Responses
248663 tn?1198086695
The occurence of shortness of breath,  with eating is not uncommon in persons with COPD with or without GERD.  With this, there are measurable increases in ventilation that would be sensed by a person as shortness of breath.

Shortness of breath one hour after eating, in a young person however,  is most unusual.  But, studies have shown that esophageal acid stimuli can initiate reflexes that result in abnormalities of heart rhythm and, in a study of 27  persons with hiatal hernia (presumably ruled-out by your endoscopic exam; if not, your doctor may want to order a barium swallow),  7 experienced after-eating shortness of breath and one, palpitation.  All of this confirms the not-unusual association between eating and shortness of breath.

It would be important to determine if either your lungs or your heart ('my heart pounds hard and fast and pvc's also occur') is functioning abnormally at the time you experience shortness of breath.  This could best be accomplished by continuous monitoring of your heart rate and rhythm, your ventilation and arterial blood gases (ABG's) during and after a meal.  Esophageal pH probe monitoring at that time, might also be informative in assessing a relationship between reflux, your symptoms and cardiac or lung function changes.

This problem may not be resolvable without careful observations, by your doctors, during a symptomatic period.  Finally, if the shortness of breath is not associated with heart or lung dysfunction,  hyperventilation might be a consideration and diagnosable by the ABG determinations.
Avatar universal
There is a very good chance you have glutamate intolerance and should seek help from a qualified dietician. Msg or monosodium glutamate gives me these symtoms which were determined after a strict elimination diet. Did you know that it is in nearly all store bought  and comercially packaged food (not just chinese food). for example 'malt extract' or 'milk solids' listed in the food labeling can contain some msg. 'Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein' is another. My doctor and i battled for three years with this but we have solved it now.
you have to be patient with the elimnation though because if i have it by mistake i sometimes dont get the symptom for up to 36 hours after, and they can last up to 4 days. Please dont overlook this as a cause of your condition.
Avatar universal
sorry, wow i just read your message again. I had everything you mentioned. I got put on nexium for gerd and it didnt do a thing. I also had the trouble swallowing. I would really recommend that you investigate msg intolerance. I had my thyroid and every thing else under the sun checked and found to be normal. You really sound like me three years ago. I hope i can save you from going through what i did. MSG is a toxin and therefore allergy tests are irrelavant. Please ask for  a referal to see a dietician and do a strict elimination test.
Avatar universal
Daviddownunder, can you please shoot me an email at mrichmond@tedeschi-ins.com, I have a couple questions for you.
Avatar universal
Is there any reason why this forum cannot be used for your questions. I am happy to help. But the political nature of the subject we are discussing is sensitive. The food industry would go into a tail spin if the truth became more readily known. You see, you have only one of the many conditions caused by the excitotoxin 621.  You must try the diet. There is no other way of fully proving your intolerance. I repeat - I am happy to help.
Avatar universal
I actually did quite a bit of research on the MSG subject yesterday and I do have to say everything seems to fit.  I've found several websites and ordered a cookbook to help with the diet.  I figure its worth a shot to see if it works, if not, at least I'll be eating much healthier.  My main question is how long did it take for your symptoms to go away?  Also, what did you do to try to avoid foods with MSG, any cookbooks you can recommend?
Avatar universal
Thankyou for giving my advice some consideration. Be aware that there is a lot of msg out there. here are some of the traps and tips.
go to msgmyth.com there are hundreds of poeple there who have this health issue.
Be aware that there is not to much recognition of this situation because this would rely on an admission by food companies that msg is not harmless. A pharmaceutical remedy is therefore not on the agender at all because of the same reason. And also the fact that there is no acknowledged medical diagnosis pathway other than the farcical chinese restaurant syndrome, doctors are not taught to recognise the far and wide reaching health issues it causes. (cfs, ibs included).
So here you go:

study food intolerance and how it works there is a good chance that you might  be intolerant to other food chemicals like amines.

dont trust food labels that say "NO ADDED MSG" these labels should really be "NO MSG' but they cant be because they contain msg.
GO to truthinlabeling.org. there are many names for flavor enhancers that you should be aware of like 'yeast extract' or 'vegetable protein'.

I react to apples that are unpealed because they are sprayed with waxy stuff to make them look good. this stuff contains msg too.

watch fragrances and after shaves.

ALL take out food has a very very high chance of containing msg - NOT JUST CHINESE FOOD.

You will become more sensitive while you are drying out.
you will get withdrawal symtoms like twitching muscles.

you will start to sleep better.

you will get less heart burn. and it will go away

you will get more energy.

go to msgmyth.com - introduce yourself to the people there and draw from their experience .

Avatar universal
I'm curious if either of you ever wake up in the middle of the night with difficulty breathing or have had voice hoarseness/loss?  For years I've been told I have asthma; however, my doctor started questioning my diagnosis or wondering if I have an additional issue when I explained I have more difficulty breathing after eating.  I am definitely going to check into the msg issue!  Thanks for sharing your info.
Avatar universal
Another condition you may want to check out is Vocal Cord Dysfunction, which is generally associated with GERD and/or postnasal drip from sinus congestion.  Both irritate the throat and vocal cords, which cause the vocal cords to become hypersensitive and partially close when inhaling.  If you are eating something you are sensitive to (MSG or whatever) it may result in irritating these structures thus causing your to have trouble getting a deep breath after eating and may may also cause you to feel like you have tightness in your throat.  There is a test called spirometry that measures the volume of air on inhalation and expiration and if you are having symptoms when you perform this test, it will show a restriction during the inhalation portion of the test.  This can also happen if you inhale other irritants such as smoke, chemical fumes, cold air and exercise.  
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A related discussion, what is excitotoxin 621 was started.
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A related discussion, shortness of breath after eating was started.
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