Airline Pilot Forums

Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.

View Full Version : Heartburn/acid reflux

02-28-2017, 04:54 PM

I am in my low 40s and have had hearburn nearly my whole life. Over the last 10 years it has gotten worse. It is to the point where I am taking about 10 - 15 Tums a day. I need to strategically keep Tums everywhere so I always have some nearby, like my car, next to my bed, in my flight bad, etc. It is getting to the point where I am thinking of telling my doctor about it but I am afraid to due to what it could do to my First Class Medical. There isn't much online about this other than the AME has to approve the medication. Also, I already am taking medication for high chloresteral.

Is this something that could impact my first class medical, or something that is pretty common and no big deal. I am about to apply for the Regionals in a few months and am worried that if I bring this problem to my doctor and he puts me on medication, it may jeopardize my medical.

02-28-2017, 05:08 PM
Your first class medical should be your least concern. Esophageal cancer is lethal.

See your doctor immediately, see a gastroenterologist about an upper endoscopy ASAP.

Scary? Absolutely. My father had difficulty swallowing a bite of steak one February, and he was gone in May. What we wouldn't give to go back and have him visit the doctor instead of popping antacid and "walking off" the heartburn.

Good luck.


02-28-2017, 05:31 PM
What Tony C said times 100.

DO NOT LET THIS GO. See a doctor ASAP.

I had issues, saw a GI doc, they did a scope, it was gastritis and esophagitis.

Was put on Nexium for a while, then put on an OTC med as required.

No issue at all with FAA. You will have a much harder time getting a medical with cancer (or dead.)

This will KILL you if you do not do something to stop the damage.

02-28-2017, 05:43 PM
Thanks for the advice. You guys are probably right, I let this go on too long. I am due for my yearly checkup with my doc in a couple weeks, I'll bring it up then. I am just worried because I just sacrificed a lot to fly as a second career and don't want to see it all go up in flames.

02-28-2017, 05:50 PM
Apparently I failed to scare enough. Like navigatro said, you can't get a First Class Medical when you're pushing up daisies.

If I could go back knowing what I know now, there would be no waiting a couple weeks. I would have my dad at the GI doc in the morning.



02-28-2017, 06:12 PM
Throat cancer took out my cousin and I got scoped. Don't wait.

02-28-2017, 06:27 PM
Wow, I thought heartburn was more common than I thought. I already have my physical scheduled in a couple weeks and will bring it up then. Nothing has changed in regards to this condition over the past few years.

02-28-2017, 06:37 PM
If you keep this up you'll get strictures (scarring) in your esophagus due to acid damage. This leads to food getting stuck (dysphagia), possible choking, Heimlich maneuver possibly breaking a rib. Long term leads to Barrett's esophagus, with a high probability of highly fatal esophageal cancer.

Treatment with proton pump inhibitors (prilosec, etc.) is simple and effective.

My next Class I medical was no big deal. I detailed the visit to the GI doc and that the treatment was working. No big deal. Been on PPIs for over 10 years with no issues.

But waiting for you is a big deal. You shouldn't even wait a "couple of weeks." Call him/her tomorrow, tell them what's going on and get a consult to see a GI doc. The relief is amazing and you'll start to reverse whatever damage you might have suffered so far.

TonyC and navigatro are right. Take care of this NOW.

PM me if you have questions.

02-28-2017, 06:51 PM
Great advice guys... I flew with a captain who survived throats cancer and regained his medical after many years on SL... his list of symptoms freaked me out! I made an appointment the next week to get mine scoped because I had problem with a bite of steak on a flight going down easily. Thankfully everything was cleared and the doc said it's not abnormal to get a lazy throat sphincter (yes, you have one up there) near your voice box when you get in your upper 40s... if you eat and take a drink in close timing it jacks up your sphincter. Lesson learned... (1) don't eat and immediately wash it down unless it's a beer; and (2) don't wait to get your throats checked if you have reflux or problems swallowing food... acid reflux leads to some bad juju.

03-04-2017, 01:44 AM
Could be gall bladder attack. Not to be taken lightly. See doctor ASAP. Gall bladder removal will not cause you to lose your medical.

03-13-2017, 03:56 PM
I am due for my yearly checkup with my doc in a couple weeks, I'll bring it up then.

How'd it go?


03-14-2017, 08:13 PM
Well I have experience in this area. I too have had heartburn all my life in my teens I had heartburn so bad the only relief I could get was baking soda and water to put the fire out. I then had bleeding ulcers in my esophagus almost bled to death. I was diagnosed with Barretts Esophagus at age 18 and I required an endoscopy every 2 years with biopsy ( now every 3 years) I am now 53 so far no cancer. Now I am required to take a proton pump inhibitor (omeprazole) per the gastroenterologist. However, I personally do not because I have a close friend who took it for years and is now in kidney failure so I take my chances without it. You can help by not taking alcohol or caffeine and limit carbs. But by all means get to a gastroenterologist ASAP and get a scope done and see where you are at. If you have had chronic heartburn or GERD for as long as you say I have no doubt you have Barretts and that is a pre cancerous condition. Get it checked out and then worry about the medical.

03-14-2017, 08:52 PM
... I had heartburn so bad the only relief I could get was baking soda and water to put the fire out.

My dad didn't have the problem that early in life, but baking soda was his treatment of choice. It was a lot more manly than Alka-Seltzer or Tums, not to mention much cheaper.

Baking soda boxes don't have medical warning notices.

It is to the point where I am taking about 10 - 15 Tums a day.

The Tums bottle says,

When using this product

Do not take more than 15 tablets in 24 hours
Do not use the maximum dosage for more than 2 weeks

On their website (I wish it was on the bottle, too), Tums says,

Talk to a healthcare professional if:

You experience heartburn or acid reflux more than once a week

You still suffer from heartburn even after taking over-the-counter or prescription heartburn medications

Your heartburn symptoms become more severe over time

Your heartburn symptoms start lasting longer or become more frequent

You experience severe hoarseness or wheezing

Swallowing food or pills becomes difficult or painful

When there are so many opportunities to diagnose and treat the problem, it's just plain stupid to "man up and gut it out." There's nothing manly about having half your esophagus and a third of your stomach removed and what's left sewn together to form a tube in its place. There's nothing macho about suffocating as the cancer spreads from your stomach to your liver and your lungs and they fill with fluid.

Stubbornness can result in a death penalty.



03-26-2017, 05:43 PM
How'd it go?


I saw the doc (actually Nurse Practitioner at the VA) and she put me on some type of medication, not sure what it is as I haven't received it in the mail, and has me going in to get my esophagus x-rayd this week.

On top of this I just went to the Emergency room the other night due to a Kidney Stone which I am about to make a post about. I think my overuse of Tums led to this (stone was most likely composed of calcium). So looks like everything is hitting me at once. Good times.

03-26-2017, 05:57 PM
You don't need an X-ray, you need an endoscope.

Another VA horror story in the making. :rolleyes:


05-31-2017, 08:12 PM
I have a similar problem (same symptoms), and am told that my lower esophageal sphincter (LES) has "disconnected" from my diaphram (the LES is located IN the esophagus, and in-line with the diaphram), preventing the valve from being totally effective. I have a surgical consult in August to discuss reattachment. Can't wait to get rid of this reflux!

Interesting discussion for an airline pilot forum...

11-27-2017, 05:39 PM
Just a quick update on this. I went to the Doc and she put me Omeprazole and they also did some weird x-rays on my Esophagus where I had to drink this disgusting fluid and swallow every time they took a shot. Thankfully there was no damage and the medication cleared the heart burn right up.

As far as my FAA First Class Medical, I listed it on as a new medication and wasn't even asked about it. All this was a big non issue, don't know why I waited to long.

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1