Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Heart Palpitations and Intestinal Problems

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 15 Replies
  • Posted By: MasterEloraDannan
  • September 4, 2008
  • 10:32 PM

I am a 20-year-old female, and my problems go all the way back to April. I had three days of nausea and BM problems, which my doctor identified as stomach flu. A week later they returned for another three days, and my doctor assured me that it was simply a relapse prompted by menstrual cramping. I accepted this explanation, and I'm still not sure that it has anything to do with my current problems. In the beginning of May, I volunteered for a paid drug testing procedure by a well-known company called Covance. My mother had done one of their tests with no problems, so I figured it was safe. We were testing a vaccine for anthrax. The day after they administered the drug, I was hit with nausea during my bus ride to school. One of the other women in my group had the same problem at the same time, so I was pretty sure it was a side effect of the drug. Almost every single day after that, I would have nausea on a regular schedule, between 11am and 3pm. I never once vomited, but I have always been a little emetophobic (fear of throwing up in public) and needed to take the bus during those hours (there is a 15-30 minute stretch with no bus stops, so I couldn't get off if I needed to) which probably just made things worse. I tried taking dramamine and pepto bismal, but it had small effect and knocked me out during school and work. I then started with ginger candies, and then sugared ginger, which helped (the Covance doctor said he simply thought my digestive system wasn't moving during those hours, hence the nausea and why the ginger helped). As the drug wore off, the nausea happened less frequently, and stopped completely around the time the drug was supposed to be out of my system, around the end of May. Two weeks of the Bus, airplane trips, two birthdays and two graduations, and I felt fine and busy. Then as I was starting work for the summer in June, I started feeling sick on the bus. Although my stomach was only twisting slightly, I also had lightheadedness and light vertigo, blood-loss tingling in my limbs, shaking, and heart palpitations. Since some of these accompanied regular nausea, I simply thought my stomach was acting up again. After the third time I had to get off the Bus and call for a ride back home, I went to see the doctor at the nearby clinic, who prescribed Reglan for nausea (it keeps your digestive system moving). I took that for two days, and my stomach felt fine: the other symptoms stayed. On the third day (Saturday), since I was getting a ride to work, I didn't take the Reglan. Around 11:30am I started getting lightheaded and dizzy. Around 12pm, heart palpitations started and didn't stop. Along with the palpitations, lightheadedness and vertigo, there was blood-loss tingling and shaking in my limbs, my jaw and skull felt tight and ache-y, I was getting a feverish heat flash, and a bitter taste was flooding my mouth; this lasted for a good hour and a half. The clinics were closed on Saturdays, but luckily my doctor was nearby and drove me to the hospital. Most of my symptoms were gone by the time we got there, and the echo, ekg, and x-ray showed nothing except the heart murmur I've had since I was a kid (which shouldn't affect me at all, according to the doctors). After keeping me for overnight observation, they told me I was having "regular irregularity": constant small palpitations, and my heart occasionally skipped beats. My orders were no caffeine, no stress, and to go see a cardiologist. Three weeks later I did the stress test, and despite a small hole near the top of my heart (which also shouldn't be affecting me), the problem wasn't my heart itself. So I was told to "keep to my regular schedule, and try to ignore it; and you can drink caffeine again, but try to keep it light". I decided that after vacation I would check my stomach, and if nothing was wrong I would assume I was having anxiety attacks. I went on summer vacation during July to mid-August, had one or two medium palpitations and several small ones: I simply lied down and waited for them to stop. Around mid-August, I started losing my appetite and getting discomfort in my stomach: I could only eat so much, and I could get bloated after eating nothing for hours. Last week I went to see my childhood doctor, who again said I'm probably just having anxiety attacks from stress, and just to try and ignore my heart palpitations. After hearing my stomach problem, and deciding that it wasn't lactose intolerence (but she didn't rule out possible gluten intolerence), she gave me a website about irritable bowel syndrome, told me to get more sleep, some light exercise, and follow the diet, and to stop drinking coke. I wasn't convinced, but I did stop staying up so late for homework and started taking the stairs more often, but I have yet to stop drinking coke or look up the diet. I began taking my leftover Reglan when I had bloating, and that helped. Last night I had another heavy palpitation attack along with stomach twisting: I took a Reglan and got off the bus, and the Reglan returned my stomach to normal and my palpitations stopped in time for the next bus. This morning, I had a bowl of cereal and a diet coke (which I drank slowly). Around 10:30, I began getting the exact same symptoms that sent me to the hospital: palpations (hard ones rather than fast), lightheadedness and vertigo (like you're on the verge of passing out) and light pressure in my skull, a feverish heat flash that lasted several minutes, blood-loss tingling in my limbs, pronounced shaking in my limbs, a tightness in my jaw, but my pulse was only 81 beats per minute. Luckily I was still at home and able to lie down; had I not been taking it easy today, this would have hit me on the bus, or the school, and probably would have been worse. I started feeling better around noon.

If anyone actually managed to get to the end of this message, you agree that this has gone on way too long. I can ignore light to medium palpitations; with these other symptoms it's impossible. I am a young female at a perfectly healthy weight; I should not be experiencing heart problems. Is this just an anxiety attack, as my doctor says? Could it be linked to the drug testing, although it happened weeks after the drug was gone from my system? I've looked up cures from meditating to yoga to magnesium; would any of those help? Has anyone else ever had something like this happen to them? If anyone has any advice or comments, please leave a post, because I am sick of being sick.

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15 Replies:

  • Your "drug test" is called a clinical trial, and these trials are *not* harmless! You need to be evaluated very carefully by an infectious disease specialist.
    aquila 1,263 Replies
    • September 5, 2008
    • 04:12 PM
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  • I live in a place where they test much more thoroughly for infectious diseases than they do in other places, so I considered myself pretty safe in that regard. And there was a 3-4 week period after the test where I felt perfectly fine. There were taking blood and urine samples all throughout the trial, but they sent them off somewhere else to be tested. They tested both again in the hospital, but nothing showed up. Is there a more complete test that I should do? Do my symptoms match any disease that you know of?
    MasterEloraDannan 2 Replies
    • September 10, 2008
    • 04:43 AM
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  • Two more symptoms that I forgot to mention, although I'm not sure if they're related. When I am having these attacks, and afterwards, it seems like my bowel movement increases. The day after the one that sent me to the hospital, I remember urinating 5-7 times between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. I had drank two small pitchers of water slowly, but even with that, it still seemed excessive considering the amount. (I was using "the hat", too, so I knew how much was there). Even now, after a noticeable attack, I often need to use the bathroom.Also, I'm beginning to get vertigo more often. My first (painful) bout with vertigo was the summer before last, and since then it happens rarely. I've had it three times in the past week, although on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say a 3 or a 4. So not harsh, but enough to make me noticably dizzy.
    MasterEloraDannan 2 Replies
    • September 10, 2008
    • 06:38 PM
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  • Well-I hope you are feeling better soon.I am a nurse and your symptoms, as crazy as they may seem, sound definitely like you are suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. Your symptoms are very common for panic attacks. I also do clinical research and the fact that you were in that trial does not convince me that the anthrax (or maybe even a placebo) vaccine caused this. Plus if I remember correctly, you had some of these feelings back in April-before the vaccine????I would recommend some anti-anxiety medications. Please check with your family doctor or a psychiatrist.Good luck.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 11, 2008
    • 02:54 AM
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  • I can relate to some of your symptoms. I never did any drug tests, but my situation has been coming on for a couple of years and is finally getting to the point where I can barely tolerate it. I get heart palps after I eat. It doesn't matter if I eat alot or a little, or what I eat. Sometimes it happens even if I drink something. Coffee doesn't seem to bother me. But now I am waking up with it. I find that if I have a bowel movement, the symptoms will subside until I eat again. I have been on anxiety pills, 3 different levels, and I am now on a Beta Blocker medication. I have tried low fat diets, no caffeine, I barely drink pop, and I joined a 2x a week excercise class. So far nothing has helped. I am a busy person, but do not consider myself a stressed person or high anxiety. My symptoms are real. I'm going to give the Beta Blocker another week and then go back to my doctor.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 16, 2009
    • 09:30 PM
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  • Hello' Your symptom's are very familiar to me......Maybe you need a proper assesment from your Doctor for Anxiety....changing your diet due to IBS will also help......i cant help but notice that you are still drinking your diet coke....i am thinking that this is agravating symptom's of vertigo,lightheadedness and will also agravate IBS.....if you do have an Anxiety disorder....the diet coke with stimulate the nerves therefore will encourage an attack.....were you Anxious about the medical trial???? I would suggest giving up the coke and seek further detailed medical evaluation....Goodluck xxxxx
    Sassyladyx 50 Replies
    • January 16, 2009
    • 11:44 PM
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  • It sounds as if the palpitations are really bothering you.Did you do a Holter monitor with the cardiologist(24-hr. EKG)?
    richard wayne2b 1,232 Replies
    • January 17, 2009
    • 01:27 PM
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  • Try researching postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or dysautonomia...I was misdiagnosed for 15 years with anxiety / depression before the Tilt Table Test gave the right diagnosis.Good LuckPamela
    pamelasmc 82 Replies
    • January 17, 2009
    • 03:30 PM
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  • POTS would be a consideration if your Sx occur when you assume an upright position.
    richard wayne2b 1,232 Replies
    • January 17, 2009
    • 03:40 PM
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  • My history over the last year is quite similar. I've seen several gastroenterologists (GIs), a cardiologist, an allergist, hospital stays, etc. After all of this time, my doctor finally ran a test for H Pylori, which, she determined, has caused many of the symptoms. A bacterial infection of this sort can reek havoc on the system, and unfortunately, it is often undetected because they rather do a more involved colonoscopy on a person (I had that too, along with MRIs, cat scans, sonograms, etc) than run the simple h pylori test. I've written much more about the saga on my blog here:http://amyking.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/im-so-happy-i-have-h-pylori/Good luck -- don't let them write it off as "anxiety", esp if you've never been an anxious person before now. That's the easy way to "diagnose" symptoms one hasn't figured out the root cause of. Amy
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 25, 2009
    • 08:33 AM
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  • I'm a 47 year old male who's experienced exactly the same symptoms as you describe:Three years ago I woke up at 3am thinking I was having a heart attack. My heart was pounding, I was dizzy, sweaty, my limbs tingling. I got out of bed and several things happened at once... I both burped and passed gas, causing the palpitations to lesson considerably. I got extremely lightheaded causing me to sit down rather than fall down. I realized somehow that this had been going on for hours and took comfort in the fact that you don't have a massive heart attack that goes on for hours... which lessened the immediate panic I was feeling. After a few minutes I had the strong urge to go to the bathroom and, having done so and finding the palpitations pretty much gone I went back to bed.Nothing else occurred along these lines for about a year.Last year in August and September it came back, only this time it occurred towards evening, usually on a weekend. I also lost 30lbs in several weeks for no apparent reason. While I liked the weight loss it scared me so I went to my Doctor and before I even finished telling him my symptoms he was saying "Acid Reflux". He put me on Prilosec and I have to admit it's amazing as far as Acid Reflux is concerned. Prilosec, while making me a little spacey (blood pressure?), totally eliminated any sort of indigestion I had (which I didn't think was bad to begin with) but it didn't do one thing for the palpitations.I'll say at this point that he also told me that I needed to lose weight (I do, I'm pushing 270), exercise more, eat more fiber, limit alcohol and caffeine (I don't really drink but I mainlined caffeine all my life), you know... the usual. I was a moose, very fit and active up until 2000 when I took a desk job and started becoming a desk/couch potato. I've actually hit 299lbs in the last few years and am somewhat ashamed of how out of shape I've gotten.But back to palpitations and intestinal distress: In October, for four Sundays in a row, I had the palpitations come on around 4pm each time. They were extremely severe at times. The last time my sister was there and she said I turned white, shaky, sweaty, and it scared her so much she took me to the Emergency Care Center nearby. (yes, I hate Doctors and Hospitals so much I'll probably die young from a hangnail. Typical American Male syndrome).They gave me an aspirin, an IV of saline, hooked me up to an EKG and shuttled me to the Chest Pain Center at a local hospital. They took blood, chest XRays, Ultrasound of all organs, and watched me on the EKG from 5pm until almost midnight. I had no palpitations until almost 11pm. At that time the IV ran out and the aspirin wore off and I had several small palpitations. It was interesting to see them on the EKG monitor.Then Doogie Howser came in... he was all of 20 I swear, very arrogant and condescending, and he told me it was Acid Reflux. He said my esophagus spasmed and that I should be on prescription medicine rather than plain old Prilosec like my Doctor had me on. He put me on Pepcid, 20mg twice a day for 30 days, told me to go back to my Doctor to continue the prescription, and that I should have a Nuclear Stress Test for my heart.My Doctor said fine, continue the Pepcid, lose weight, yadda yadda.The Nuclear Stress Test, while interesting, showed that I have the heart of a lion. The Doctor there actually told me it was great to see such a healthy heart there as it's not the norm for them. I think I set a record for them on the treadmill as they had to really jack it up to get me to 180 bpm. (told you, I used to be a moose...) :)I later had a scope down the throat, which found nothing. I have not had a colonoscopy but will in the next few years as a matter of course, and am thinking about doing so sooner just to be safe.Anyway I took the Pepcid and at three weeks had the worst palpitations ever, without a lick of any sort of indigestion. They come on whenever, and usually only rest makes it go away. It can last ten minutes or three days, varying in intensity between mildly annoying and totally debilitating. In short it seems to me that Doctors and tests will only rule things out and tell you what it ISN'T, so it's up to you to figure out what it IS. You need to experiment with yourself to see things like:I found that caffeine amplifies them. (and have totally kicked caffeine to boot)I found that food types and times don't affect them. I can eat or not eat, makes no difference when or what.I found that rest minimizes them, often completely.I found constipation amplifies them, although this varies. Phillips Stool Softener stopped them once by unstopping me, but subsequent use shows this only works when they're present during bad constipation. I found often I get 'preshocks', like single heart stutters, and that they're often followed by a strong need to go to the bathroom. During these times I'm 'flushing out' both liquids and solids and seem to eliminate much more than I've taken in lately.I found I often have backaches around them, but tests on my Gall Bladder show no problems and my back is a disaster area after ten years at a desk.I found I often have hay fever around them, but hay fever medicine doesn't affect them.I found I had fairly rapid intestinal transit, taking only about 12 to 14 hours to pass solids. Not totally sure what to make of this.I found that fiber doesn't affect them, but has so many other benefits that it's now a part of my life.I had the flu during palpitations once and found Alka Seltzer Flu made them virtually go away. The prime ingredient is 1000mg of aspirin, and I doubt the antihistamine or cough suppressant did anything... so the next time they came on I tried plain old aspirin. 1300mg or more makes them stop in minutes. :) Strangely enough I found Tylenol doesn't have the same affect. So far it's only plain old Aspirin that works.Once I found that out, and suppressed the palpitations, I discovered that while they're occurring my lower intestinal area is squirming and contracting. It's subtle and I couldn't feel it while my heart was pounding, but it was very obvious once I got the palpitations muffled.That takes me to IBS or what my parents called "Spastic Colon", which no Medical person has mentioned to me but is all over the Internet. Since aspirin seems to be the cure, I tried another salicylate, good old Pepto Bismol. I've found that one dose quiets everything down for days. No signs of palpitations or any intestinal distress.In the meantime I'm dedicated to losing the weight. I'm getting more exercise and have started doing some light weight training and lots and lots of walking.I'm planning on getting an H.Pylori test, Hydrogen Breath Test for SIBO, and that Gall Bladder test that finds issues with apparently healthy Gall Bladders. I also plan to get back to somewhere around 220lb.After all of this I can only urge you to take control of your symptoms. Stop caffeine and see what affect it has. Keep a log, write it down, and be systematic in adding/removing things from your life to see what affect it has.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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  • your problem seems to me very much similar to me...i still have not yet succeded completely but still i have an improvement......my mail id is kiransankarpati@ymail.comif you need further information mail me.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 27, 2009
    • 06:28 PM
    • 0
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  • Hello' Your symptom's are very familiar to me......Maybe you need a proper assesment from your Doctor for Anxiety....changing your diet due to IBS will also help......i cant help but notice that you are still drinking your diet coke....i am thinking that this is agravating symptom's of vertigo,lightheadedness and will also agravate IBS.....if you do have an Anxiety disorder....the diet coke with stimulate the nerves therefore will encourage an attack.....were you Anxious about the medical trial???? I would suggest giving up the coke and seek further detailed medical evaluation....Goodluck xxxxxHi there, In addition to the good points you've made here, aspartame has been implicated as a cause of panic attacks, and is found in diet soda and SO many artificially sweetened products. I believe that all chemical sweeteners can pose health risks.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • hey, all this sounds so familiar to me. I started getting the same stomach symptoms a couple of years ago, I started getting anxiety attacks because of it too. Doctor put me on Propanolol to stop the panic attacks, but everything seems to get lumped onto the one thing... you cant have anything else wrong with you if you suffer from anxiety, like you have flu, ah it's just anxiety.When I get panicky I do need the toilet more, and that part is related becuase it's connected to your stomach contracting when your anxious. But my stomach is so messed up at the moment, I feel nuaseous after eating, Im getting pains around my belly button, my stools are loose and my **s feels like it's been abused. Im going to Doctor again tommorow but I 90% sure I'll get the 'anxeity' brush off
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 7, 2011
    • 01:27 AM
    • 1
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  • I had a lot of the. Symptoms you've just described and I have been recently diagnosed with a H. Pylar infection in my stomach. After taking Meds for about one week now my heart palpitations are pretty much gone and I am ecstatic! I pray this info is beneficial to you. Relieved of palpitations after 2-3 years.
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
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