Heartburn after liver transplant: How do I get relief?

Posted by craigmorris @craigmorris, Jul 28, 2021

Greetings. New to the group. I had a liver transplant 6 weeks ago. I am home now, and in recovery. I have been struggling with heartburn when I eat. It doesn't seem to matter what the food is. I am taking both Pepcid and Omeprezole along with my other meds. Would love any information or experience others have had. Thanks.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Transplants group.

@craigmorris, Greetings to you, and Congratulations on your liver transplant! I want to extend a virtual handshake to welcome you to Mayo Connect.
I also was prescribed Omeprezole after my liver and kidney transplant in 2009. I believe that it is a routine medication for us as we adjust to the new meds and to prevent acid reflux that can occur.
Craig, my first though upon reading your post is to make sure that you are in communication with your transplant team about your struggle with heartburn. Each of us reacts differently to meds and they might have some suggestions to help you. As a newly transplant patient, there is a tendency to 'not want to bother' our coordinator. Trust me, they are there to help us continue our recovery and new life. I transplanted at Mayo, and so I have a nurse coordinator and I use the patient portal to to communicate.
I don't remember many details, but, I learned something after my transplant that surprised me: no gall bladder. Yes, gall bladder was removed. At my 4 month check-up, I was instructed on healthy eating and the nutritionist stressed a heart healthy diet w/o fatty foods, fried foods etc. Of particular note is that my husband had his gall bladder removed several years ago. He had to avoid eating rich fatty food, and lying down too soon after eating.

I wonder if your heartburn is brought on by the food or food preparation. Do you eat many fast foods, or fried foods?

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@rosemarya

@craigmorris, Greetings to you, and Congratulations on your liver transplant! I want to extend a virtual handshake to welcome you to Mayo Connect.
I also was prescribed Omeprezole after my liver and kidney transplant in 2009. I believe that it is a routine medication for us as we adjust to the new meds and to prevent acid reflux that can occur.
Craig, my first though upon reading your post is to make sure that you are in communication with your transplant team about your struggle with heartburn. Each of us reacts differently to meds and they might have some suggestions to help you. As a newly transplant patient, there is a tendency to 'not want to bother' our coordinator. Trust me, they are there to help us continue our recovery and new life. I transplanted at Mayo, and so I have a nurse coordinator and I use the patient portal to to communicate.
I don't remember many details, but, I learned something after my transplant that surprised me: no gall bladder. Yes, gall bladder was removed. At my 4 month check-up, I was instructed on healthy eating and the nutritionist stressed a heart healthy diet w/o fatty foods, fried foods etc. Of particular note is that my husband had his gall bladder removed several years ago. He had to avoid eating rich fatty food, and lying down too soon after eating.

I wonder if your heartburn is brought on by the food or food preparation. Do you eat many fast foods, or fried foods?

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Thank you for the quick response and kind words of support. I appreciate them. I have been in contact with my team at Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts. They have made some prescription changes, so far without the desired result, so we continue to work on. My diet is pretty healthy. We avoid fried foods and fatty food, we never eat fast food, as a general rule. I have found no common ground triggers for the heartburn within my diet. Will continue to work on this, and hope that it may be a symptom that goes away.

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@craigmorris

Thank you for the quick response and kind words of support. I appreciate them. I have been in contact with my team at Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts. They have made some prescription changes, so far without the desired result, so we continue to work on. My diet is pretty healthy. We avoid fried foods and fatty food, we never eat fast food, as a general rule. I have found no common ground triggers for the heartburn within my diet. Will continue to work on this, and hope that it may be a symptom that goes away.

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/hi Craig, I'd like to add my welcome and to invite a few more fellow liver transplant recipients to this discussion like @btwest6 @jackie421blfdgurl @athenalee @gaylea1 @karmamamma @silverwoman and more. They may have additional tips to offer about heartburn and acid reflux post transplant.

You may also be interested in this discussion:
– Liver transplant support group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/liver-support-group/

I know some people find it helpful to raise the head legs slightly so that you're not lying flat. Have you tried that?

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@craigmorris I had trouble eating and digesting food for a long time (still do) post transplant. To help with acid in my stomach I have been taking Lansoprazole as prescribed by my doctors on the transplant team. I find it to be very effective. Maybe you can ask them about this medication?

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@colleenyoung

/hi Craig, I'd like to add my welcome and to invite a few more fellow liver transplant recipients to this discussion like @btwest6 @jackie421blfdgurl @athenalee @gaylea1 @karmamamma @silverwoman and more. They may have additional tips to offer about heartburn and acid reflux post transplant.

You may also be interested in this discussion:
– Liver transplant support group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/liver-support-group/

I know some people find it helpful to raise the head legs slightly so that you're not lying flat. Have you tried that?

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Hi, Craig. Congratulations on your new liver. I've had minimal trouble with acid stomach since my transplant. My team has suggested Tums and that usually does it for me. The elevation of the head of the bed is a great suggestion. I also have been told that sleeping on the left side is helpful with acid reflux because of the position of the stomach's openings while supine. The only other thing that comes to mind is that some foods just produce an acid stomach; tomatoes do it for me; so, I avoid them in volume. Sorry, I've nothing else to offer.

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@gaylea1

@craigmorris I had trouble eating and digesting food for a long time (still do) post transplant. To help with acid in my stomach I have been taking Lansoprazole as prescribed by my doctors on the transplant team. I find it to be very effective. Maybe you can ask them about this medication?

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Thank you. I will.

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Hello and congratulations on your transplant. I am almost one year out of my liver transplant. Prior to my transplant I had issues with varices, so was on Protonix (Pantoprazole) as a precaution for acid reflux. I remained on it following my transplant and was able to discontinue it two months ago. Fortunately, I’ve not had any issues with stomach distress or acid reflux.

I’m sorry you’re having such issues. With all of the medications we need to take, I think many people do experience stomach distress, heartburn, etc. If you haven’t already, perhaps talk with your doctor about possible other heartburn medications that might be better suited for your body. I’d also recommend speaking with your team nutritionist about your diet and potential changes that may reduce heartburn.

As others have mentioned, I too had my gallbladder removed. So, between that, keeping my liver protected, and the effects of out medications, I eat little in the way of fried foods. I also have eliminated all refined sugar, white flour, and processed foods from my diet.

Best wishes for a rapid solution!

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@silverwoman

Hi, Craig. Congratulations on your new liver. I've had minimal trouble with acid stomach since my transplant. My team has suggested Tums and that usually does it for me. The elevation of the head of the bed is a great suggestion. I also have been told that sleeping on the left side is helpful with acid reflux because of the position of the stomach's openings while supine. The only other thing that comes to mind is that some foods just produce an acid stomach; tomatoes do it for me; so, I avoid them in volume. Sorry, I've nothing else to offer.

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thank you. I find that my heartburn hits the minute I start to eat so lying a certain way doesn’t seem to make much difference. I’ve been told not to take Tums because of interactions with some of the meds that I’m on so instead I’ve been taking Pepcid and Prilosec with variable results.

I have found that eating is more slowly can help but sometimes it doesn’t seem to make any difference at all and foods that were not a trigger earlier may be a trigger in a current meal instead. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme nor reason to it. Thanks for the response. C

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@athenalee

Hello and congratulations on your transplant. I am almost one year out of my liver transplant. Prior to my transplant I had issues with varices, so was on Protonix (Pantoprazole) as a precaution for acid reflux. I remained on it following my transplant and was able to discontinue it two months ago. Fortunately, I’ve not had any issues with stomach distress or acid reflux.

I’m sorry you’re having such issues. With all of the medications we need to take, I think many people do experience stomach distress, heartburn, etc. If you haven’t already, perhaps talk with your doctor about possible other heartburn medications that might be better suited for your body. I’d also recommend speaking with your team nutritionist about your diet and potential changes that may reduce heartburn.

As others have mentioned, I too had my gallbladder removed. So, between that, keeping my liver protected, and the effects of out medications, I eat little in the way of fried foods. I also have eliminated all refined sugar, white flour, and processed foods from my diet.

Best wishes for a rapid solution!

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thank you. C

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@craigmorris, I'm dropping in here and wondering if you have an update. I sure hope that you are feeling better and have found relief from the heartburn that you have described. Have you and the doctors found a cause and a treatment? Is your liver transplant or your medications involved?

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@craigmorris, Congratulations on your liver transplant. I had kidney transplant four months ago. One of the issues I have until now is heartburn. I was advised to avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks and spicy foods and eat small amount of foods at a time. I also take a walk and avoid lying position after each meal, but didn’t seem to help. I have been taking Protonix prescribed by my nephrologist. It worked, but hopefully I can get off this pill to shorten my list if medications.

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@leahdrose – I have recently noticed occasional heartburn. And you just reminder me about caffeine and carbonated drinks. Thank you for solving my puzzle!
I am 12 yrs post transplant and had forgotten about that. Over the summer I had been having more carbonated beverages than I usually do, probably because I’ve been shopping for someone and buying the multiple packages for the special pricing. Now I know why the occasional heartburn appeared. Easy to eliminate it from my menu and see if it is the cause for the occasional discomfort.

After my transplant I was prescribed meds to prevent heartburn due to my immune meds, too.

Has your doctor indicated whether you will need to taper off the med? Or has he said whether the heartburn could reappear?

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