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Five years before correct Diagnosis.


It all began during the summer of 1992. After suffering years with gastritis and not knowing what gastritis actually was, I was stricken with a sudden feeling of throat irritation and impending doom. I was taken to the closest emergency room where they felt I had acute Epiglottitis and was life flighted to the Presbyterian University Hospital of Pittsburgh. Now for a person at the young old age of 30 this was pretty dramatic. I was evaluated then released after undergoing several tests. One including a fiber optic exam. The final diagnosis was sinusitis along with gastritis. I was placed on antibiotics and Tagamet and released. This was the beginning of a long and frustrating road to recovery. I continued to have throat irritation along with shortness of breath. I was seen by a Pulmonologist who diagnosed me with mod/severe asthma. With my history of allergies and having had a grandfather who suffered with asthma, this seemed plausible. However, pulmonary functions tests were within normal range. I did undergo a barium test (upper GI) to evaluate the gastritis which was inconclusive at the time. Over the 2-3 yrs I had seen several doctors for the same recurring complaint (shortness of breath and a feeling of something stuck in my throat). I went to an ear nose and throat doctor who stated I needed endoscopic nasal surgery for my polyps and felt this could be causing some of the throat tightness. I then proceeded with the surgery. Another 1-2yrs passed with the same symptoms. I was treated several times with Prednisone and put on several daily inhalers for asthma. The doctors then informed me that I had asthma and would need these medicines to control my symptoms and must learn to live with it!!! I was following all the instructions given by my docs, checking peak flows daily (which always stayed in the normal ranges)and was becoming more depressed and frustrated.

The year now was 1996 and I had just bought a computer for my children. I had an Internet service (aol) and started searching for answers. I started joining in weekly chats and corresponding with several people from the asthma support group. I learned that (which I always thought) this wasn’t typical of true asthma. I then learned about a Hospital in Denver Colorado, National Jewish, which specialized in asthma. October of 1996 I was evaluated and underwent extensive tests which showed I had severe gastric reflux disease and very, very mild asthma. They performed a 24 hour probe which confirmed the reflux. I was then started on Prilosec and told to take this for 3 months. If my symptoms did not improve I should be evaluated by a Gastroenterologist. After being on the Prilosec and modifying my diet, I felt somewhat better, but not completely. I then saw a Gastroenterologist and had the battery of tests which confirmed I had severe reflux disease and Barrett's Esophagus from long term reflux. I learned that the asthma symptoms were coming from the reflux. At this time my medications were changed. I was given Prevacid which helped considerably, but did not get rid of the symptoms completely. The long and short of my story is to make sure you find a doctor who is thorough and persistent in searching for a solution. I had the Nissen Fundoplication surgery this fall (Oct 1997) and am presently off of all medications. I am now on a regular diet and no longer suffer from the shortness of breath and throat irritations. I am just upset that this wasn’t properly diagnosed back in 1992.

Well that's my story and if it prevents anyone from going down the same path then I am glad I took the time to write it. I would just like to conclude that my reflux symptoms weren't heartburn, like in the past, but included shortness of breath, throat tightness and nausea.

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