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History of frequent heartburn. Having severe pain below rib cage during period. Taking antacid. Thoughts?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2004
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Every month when I get my period, I am woken up about 4 times a night with severe, stabbing pain in my upper stomach, right below the center of my rib cage. The only thing that helps with the pain is taking an antacid, but the pain seems to return again a few hours later. I do not experience this pain at all while I am awake. I do not eat for at least 4 hours before I go to bed and only drink water. This has been happening to me almost every month for about 2 years now. I though it might have had to do with my weight, but I have since lost 30 lbs and it doesn't seem to help. I am 26 years old and have had a history of frequent heartburn. But this pain is nothing like I have felt before. As I said before, this only happens during the 4 or 5 days a month that I have my period.
Posted Tue, 16 Apr 2013 in Menstruation and Miscarriage
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 4 hours later

Menstrual period is a stage of stress for every woman. Some respond mild while others badly. During this period there are a few hormones that majorly affect the physiological process of the woman especially serotonin, progesterone.

Your complains are typical of a heart burn. It along with bloating are studied to be aggravated, as a part of the premenstrual syndrome and during menstruation. Your history of symptoms decreasing with simple antacids points towards acid burn. I suggest you to continue taking this as they are safe drugs. Since the reasons for premenstural syndrome and physiology that happens in a woman is not completely understood, no definite prevention tips are gathered in the studies.

However you should avoid tomato, citrus fruits, chocolate, dairy products to reduce the symptoms. Avoiding food for more than 4 hours while awake can secrete more acids and aggravate the problem. Instead reduce it by 2 hours.

Let me know if you have tried any of these already.
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