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Can the feeling of retching and gagging related to Anxiety or is due to alcohol?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2012
Answered : 3194 Questions
Hello. For the past 29 months I have been experiencing dry heaving/retching/gagging with no apparent pattern or cause. I can experience dozens of retching episodes over the course of the day and they are incredibly debilitating. I rarely have a day free from it. They have got worse in the last 10 months in particular. Despite this I have no pain in any part of my body and I have never vomited as a result of this problem. I am an incredibly anxious person and always have been, I drink a lot of alcohol every evening as this for some bizarre reason completely stops the urge to dry heave/retch/gag, it also eliminates the horrible anxious symptoms that accompany the retching. I.E. Crying, feeling of impending doom, fear that death is imminent. Sometimes the retching has been so bad and persistent that I have almost driven to A&E. I went to my GP in September and I told him about this, he was baffled and couldn't think of a possible cause. I was sent for lots of blood tests including; Anti-TTG, Bone Profile, Full Blood Count, IgA, Lipids, Renal Function, Thyroid Function. All of these came back completely normal. The only one that was out of range was my Glucose Fasting result, it measured 7.9mmol which would indicate diabetes. I had a repeat test and this time it had dropped to 6.7mmol. I am currently waiting to have an OGTT to see if I have diabetes. The retching is getting worse, it is making me agoraphobic as I am terrified of going far from home and becoming overwhelmed with this disgusting affliction. I have lost my job and my Nan has died in the last 3 months as well. In your experience what do you think this could be? I believe it must either be 1. A Gastrointestinal problem like Acid Reflux or Peptic Ulcers, etc. 2. An alcohol problem like withdrawal symptoms. 3. Acute Generalised Anxiety Disorder and maybe moderate depression. If any doctor out there can relate to this I would be most grateful if you could reply with any advice or tips. Regards XXXXX
Posted Fri, 3 Jan 2014 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Shafi Ullah Khan 1 hour later
Brief Answer: Alcohol+psych evaluation+ gastroenterologist Detailed Answer: Hello there XXXXX! Thank you for asking. My name is Dr. S Khan and i would like to answer your query and will make sure you are satisfied. Mr XXXXX age of 25 is too young to be that alcoholic and psychiatric. I want you to know for sure that you suspected diagnosis for this retching has been pointed by you very well. It is a combination of all three suspicions. All worsened by excessive alcohol abuse with superseded anxiety as gut is the system which works only when state of rest and digest is prevailing and anxiety apprehends that. As all your work up has come clean as age of 25 is too young to present with such derangements but if you didn't modify now you will end up with pandora's box and then it will be impossible to manage. Your diabetes profile is also the victim of this alcohol. so modify lifestyle and diet and you wont have to worry about it any more. Now the Issue of this retching so i want you to know that you need a gastroenterologist, your GP has worked up every thing but there is no mentioning of any gastric profiles like Pancreatic profile, or endoscopy, 24 hour ph monitoring of Gastro esophageal sphincters. Seek the help of a good gastroenterologist and let them choose the plan for you. this retching needs avoidance of alcohol and signing up to alcoholic anonymous programms with a psychologicala and behavioural therapies as you need them the most. Right now simple proton pump inhibitors, some prokinetic like proclorperazines, Some dopaminergic agents like domperidones, a good balanced diet and a constant strict monitoring for electrolytes is all you need. Remember you have bigger crocodiles in your pond and retching is an innocuous fish you are paranoid of. Consider my advice. Do as directed and wait for the results, my collar will be here to grab if my advice didn't work. Good luck and take some very good care of yourself. If you have any more queries for me kindly ask them, i would love to answer, other wise i request you to close the discussion and rate the answer as per your experience. Regards Dr. S Khan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Can the feeling of retching and gagging related to Anxiety or is due to alcohol? 1 hour later
Sometimes the retching feels very violent, is it likely to be life threatening? Does alcohol make acid reflux worse? If so then why does it help me to relax? Seeing as my GP has sent me for an OGTT is it likely that I could possibly have Gastroparesis?
Answered by Dr. Shafi Ullah Khan 2 hours later
Brief Answer: Say no to booze. One stop solution for all issues Detailed Answer: hello again! I want you to know that alcohol gives you false happiness called euphoria by messing with brain centres and thus leads to addiction. it is life threatening as there are risks of gastro intestinal tears and bleeding tendencies like XXXXXXX weiss tears. And yes your doctor is right. Gastroparesis is the broad term for all these complications i am talking about and the sole culprit is alcohol.whether it is reflux or any other issue you have all points to alcohol so sign up to alcohol. say no to it and be a man, you can do it. Life is too short to be wasted like this over worthless things. Enjoy the true colours and find the inner peace. It is not in booze. Get a real and healthy life. May the odds be ever in your favour. Kindly don't forget to close the discussion Regards Dr. S Khan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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