I had an appointment with my GP (family doctor) this morning, following on from my recent hospital appointment – I have been having problems with my mouth and throat. I suffer from a dry mouth especially at night, and this is probably partly due to my M.E. and partly due to nasal congestion – I have to spend some time every night clearing my nasal passages with Sterimar (an aerosol saline solution). Also, I had a throat infection back in February and since then I have not been able to throw off a chronic irritating cough, the production of mucus and a constant feeling of a lump of catarrh at the back of my throat which I am unable to clear.
My hubby has been telling me lately that I am making a lot of noise while asleep – not exactly snoring but a sound as if I am struggling to get enough breath.
I mentioned the lump in my throat to the hospital doctor but she couldn’t find anything and only recommended continuing with the saline spray to clear my nose and prevent mouth breathing, which should help the dry mouth. She ruled out Sjorgren’s Syndrome.
The GP was very helpful, and agreed it didn’t sound like obstructive sleep apnoea which my hubby suffers from – she asked if he could hear me stopping breathing altogether when asleep, which he couldn’t, and I don’t suffer from the same daytime sleepiness which featured so strongly in his condition before he started with the CPAP breathing mask.
She asked if I suffered from acid reflux, and when I said yes – I get bouts of this and according to my GP where we used to live, this is probably caused by my M.E. and is the result of the sphincter at the top of my stomach not closing properly. The GP today said all my symptoms were characteristic of reflux – the acid contents of the stomach can cause inflammation and irritation at the top of the oesophagus and give rise to a feeling of swelling and a chronic cough. She has prescribed Omeprazole, a slow-release medication which reduces the acid concentration in the stomach, for the next four weeks, and we have to see how it goes. If it works properly, it should prevent the reflux and give my throat a chance to recover. If the symptoms persist, she will refer me to an ear, nose and throat specialist who will take a proper look at my throat, and take it from there, with any treatment based on what they find.
I also mentioned my swollen ankles, and she confirmed what my old GP said, that I should keep my legs elevated as much as possible, but obviously I can’t be on the recliner all day as there are other things to do when I’m well enough! She said that my lack of mobility is the main cause, because walking exercises the calf muscles and keeps the blood flowing, and without it, blood plasma can leak out from the blood vessels and pool in the tissues, causing the oedema and discomfort. She said that it was most unlikely that my left bundle branch block (chronic heart condition) would have any effect – since being less mobile this condition has been completely asymptomatic and I tend to forget all about it. She said being female was against me, and also the heat – both of which exacerbate problems with swollen ankles. She said support stockings might help but I said they would be terribly hot – I wore my travel socks when we drove up to our holiday venue, which helped, but I did get very hot! She was reluctant to put me on diuretics because they would make me pee more, and could cause more M.E.-type symptoms, and would not be good for long-term use in my case. She ordered a blood test for anaemia, which is common in people with ulcerative colitis because of continuous low-level loss of blood, and which can cause ankle oedema. I asked about those circulation booster machines, and she said it certainly might help, and would do no harm. Looking them up on the Internet, they are pretty expensive, so I am now watching one on Ebay and hope the price doesn’t rise too high!
So now I am waiting for the result of the haemoglobin test, and for the end of the four-week period on the new medication, and we will see what happens. I am very pleased with our new doctors’ surgery – my new GP is extremely efficient, really listens, is friendly, and takes all these various niggles seriously. Untreated, reflux can increase one’s risk of developing throat cancer so it should not be ignored. I am happy that I can hope to feel a lot better soon, because something is being done about it.
Today I weighed myself for the first time for ages and was absolutely horrified! I have never been so heavy. I knew I’d put on a lot recently, and going on holiday and having lots of meals out, and starting each day with a full English breakfast and delicious home made scones probably hasn’t helped, but it’s given me the impetus to try and do something about it, so starting tomorrow, I am going on the Fast Diet (intermittent 5:2 fast where two days per week you consume a maximum of 500 calories, and eat normally the rest of the time) – I know several people on this diet and the results have been dramatic. Losing some weight should improve my health all round, I think.