General Question

Facade's avatar

At what point should someone go to the doctor for this type of issue?

Asked by Facade (22881points) May 30th, 2012

I’m having pain in my torso area, namely where my kidneys and stomach are. I’ll explain…
I went to a party for Memorial Day, and I drank more than I usually do. I normally don’t drink much at all– maybe a glass of wine every now and then. Sunday night and into Monday morning I estimate that I had about 12 ounces of white wine. That shouldn’t be an issue, but I also made myself a mixed drink. It was cranberry juice, ginger ale, and Ciroc (vodka—I don’t even drink vodka! Don’t know what I was thinking). The weird thing is that I only put maybe an ounce of vodka in the drink, and I only took two small sips of it. I immediately felt pain in my stomach after swallowing, and I left the drink alone. I didn’t have water or anything else for a few hours after that, even though I should have.
I said I don’t drink much or often, and it’s because I’ve always been a “lightweight,” although alcohol hasn’t always affected me in this way.
On Monday, I woke up feeling drunk and horrible (after two cups of wine and a couple sips of heavily diluted vodka), and I had a small amount of pain in my stomach and back. I ignored it that day thinking it would go away. Yesterday, I had the pain in my torso all day, and it intensified throughout the day. Today, the pain is worse and more widespread. It isn’t unbearable, but I am concerned.
I’m trying to avoid going to the doctor because I cannot afford to pay what my insurance won’t cover, but what y’all think I should do?

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23 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I would call the doctor and ask. Explain that you don’t have insurance and does this sound like something that needs to be seen right away, or might it go away.

Since I have insurance, I don’t have to worry. I’d just call and make an emergency appointment. Frankly, if what you describe were happening to me, I’d have called already. It’s been what, three days already? And it’s getting worse? And in that area of kidneys or apendicitis or who knows what? I’d be freaked and I wouldn’t care about the money any more. I’d call the doctor. We may even be in emergency room territory. I wouldn’t be surprised if the doctor tells you to head on over to the hospital.

Whatever, good luck. This sounds very unpleasant. I hope it turns out to be easy to fix.

jrpowell's avatar

Most places have a ask-a-nurse type service. I would call them. It is certainly beyond hoping it is okay territory.

Facade's avatar

@wundayatta I’ll take that as you sounding concerned… I haven’t seen a doctor yet because it wasn’t this bad before, and other people who have experienced this from alcohol said they felt fine in two or three days.

I should mention that the pain and tightness subsides when I’m chugging water, but return almost immediately when I haven’t had water in a few minutes; it’s weird. I guess I’m not as concerned as I should be because I deal with pain every day, and this is one more thing… thanks for your responses so far.

wundayatta's avatar

@Facade I have never had that kind of reaction from alcohol. I drank quite a bit on one or two occasions back in the day.

I have had some discomfort in my kidneys the next morning after drinking moderate amounts. But that always went away after I relieved myself in the morning.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Check with your insurance carrier. Many of them have an 800# that can be used for advice in a situation like this. An agent may recommend that you skip seeing your regular doctor and go directly to a specialist in their network. They can also advise you on what costs will and will not be approved.

I wish you a speedy recovery. Please keep us posted. We adore you.

Facade's avatar

Going to the doctor now

Facade's avatar

So, as I suspected, going to the doctor was fruitless. The idiot doctor told me that I have viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) after completely ignoring what I was telling him concerning my symptoms. He gave me an antacid to take every morning for seven days while my virus runs its course. I’m in tears because I know I do not have the stomach flu, and I don’t know what to do now other than research for myself to see what could be wrong.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for going to the doctor’s and reporting back. Here is what I would do at this point. Take the antacid for the next couple of days to see if it brings about any change. Keep a journal of the pain, including how often, when, if food or drink helps or hinders. Also, how much sleep you are getting should be logged.

Unless the doctor was able to run some test and get the results back that quickly, you are better off going with what your body is telling you. If it doesn’t get any better in the next couple of days, call the insurance company and ask for their advice. They may go ahead and refer you to a specialist.

Facade's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Yea, I’m going to keep an eye on myself and see if I need to see another doctor. Thanks, I’ll keep you guys updated.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My heart goes out to you for your health situation right now. While it may turn out to be nothing serious, the worst part is just not knowing what is causing it.

I started having stomach pains during my senior year of high school. No tests were run that I recall, and the doctor told me to take an antacid and drink more milk. He attributed it to stress about graduating and heading off to college. It was not true. I couldn’t wait and had no fear about it.

It finally subsided after about six months. For all I know, it might have been an ulcer, which the medical field now knows is caused by a bacterial infection, and while antacids can mask the pain, it also takes an antibiotic to clear it up effectively.

You might want to do some research on diabetes. I know virtually nothing about it, as no immediate family members have it. But…a close friend was diagnosed when he was in his 30’s and started to experience some health problems. One of the triggers for him was having more than one glass of wine.

You might also want to look into finding a doctor that practices Holistic medicine. Both my niece and her SO recently graduated from medical school in this field. It’s quite fascinating, and I think it would suit your current medical needs as well as your personality.

Facade's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Oh, I’m very into holistic medicine! I plan on treating this issue with nutrition.. I did an amatuer diagnosis, and I think @wundayatta was right when he mentioned pancreatitis. The symptoms fit, and it can be exacerbated by overindulging in alcohol. For me, two glasses of wine is too much. I even experienced an increase in pain after stupidly using Listerine earlier! I also have a hunch that my kidneys may already be affected, so I’m going to do some self-treatment similar to what they’d do at the hospital tonight and see how I feel tomorrow. I truly cannot afford to go to the hospital; I just finished paying off a bill from last year, so I’m going to see if I can help myself first.

blueberry_kid's avatar

I would just call and ask a doctor anyway. What’ve you got to lose? Better safe than sorry.

hearkat's avatar

@Facade: I was also thinking it could be the pancreas. I hope you have a good result with your home-remedies, and you may want to avoid alcohol altogether – even switch mouthwash – to avoid causing inflammation.

wundayatta's avatar

I did not mention pancreatitis. I think you thought of that yourself.

ETpro's avatar

@Facade I really don’t think, based on what you described doing, that it was the alcohol. That was too little an amount to instantaneously trigger such a profound and long-lasting reaction. My guess is the doc may be right, or something else is going on. Remember, correlation is not equal to causation. Sometimes things happen at the same time, but are entirely coincidental. If it doesn’t start responding to the antacid treatments then try to localize the pain and see what organ/s it might relate to. With that clearly in mind, call and seek further advice. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Facade's avatar

@wundayatta Oh, you said appendicitis. My mistake
@ETpro That’s what the doctor sad, but neither of you seem to understand that alcohol always causes me physical pain, just not this much because I normally have one small glass of wine at a time. I highly doubt this is random or associated with the stomach flu. I have localized my symptoms, and the doctor decided to hear what he wanted to hear. I believe my pancreas and kidneys have been affected by extinuating circumstances I haven’t mentioned here because it’d be way to much to type. Let’s just say I really shouldn’t have had that much alcohol; my body can’t handle that in its current state. So it wasn’t just the alcohol, but it definitely did it’s job of poisoning my body even further.
@hearkat Thank you. I’m basically doing what they’d do at the hospital, plus utilizing antioxidant and nutrient-rich foods to counteract the alcohol. I’m also going to be eating minimal, yet frequent innocuous meals. I’m going to try to sweat this out as well. Regarding the alcohol, I am going to give it up completely for at lest a few months. That was probably my second time drinking vodka, but I have wine a couple times a month. I definitely don’t need alcohol in my life at all, so giving it up will be no problem.

cazzie's avatar

If alcohol is causing that much trouble for you, you must have an underlying issue. Are there any other foods, that have no alcohol in them, that give you trouble? Are you diabetic? Have you been treated for gall stones? Have you EVER had your liver enzymes tested? Have you ever drunk grape juice straight and it gave you a really bad stomach ache?

When you kidneys hurt, it feels more like a back ache than in the front side. Gall stone pains are usually quite localised under the right side of the ribcage.

Hot tea made from grinding/shredding up fresh ginger, steeping it in a cup and sweetened a bit if you like, first thing in the morning, can help clean out the digestion.

There can be a multitude of problems causing your body to react poorly to the ingestion of alcohol, including a myriad of auto-immune diseases. If there are no other symptoms, don’t drink alcohol. If there are symptoms, see a doctor at a university hospital that doesn’t need to take your money.

Facade's avatar

@cazzie Thanks, I was thinking about this last night as well. I think I screwed up my pancreas for about a decade by not eating right– I’d get to extreme hunger before I’d eat. I don’t do it as badly now, but my acupuncturist gave me a grave warning during my first visit with her because she could see my body was sick. That said, I think you’re right; alcohol shouldn’t affect me this way, but I’ve never been good at processing it. Some enzyme tests seem to be a good idea…
Concerning my symptoms, I have pain in my back near my spine (pancreas), on both sides of my back (kidneys), and a bit in the front. There’s also some nausea, which I’m able to minimize through herbal remedy ;)
I am better today praise God. I plan on only ingesting water (also in the form of herbal teas, and diluted fruit juices), light soups that are nutrient dense and include a veggie protein, veggies/fruits, maybe some whole grain bread, my supplements, and aloe vera which is surprisingly beneficial for calming inflammation and healing tissues. No dairy, no red meat, no processed sugars or foods; all this in small portions for at least a week to let my pancreas and body rest and heal. As long as I’m not in pain, I’ll rely on my diet and see a doctor about some enzyme tests in the near future. I’m going to go to the ER if I feel pain again because pancreatitis can be fatal, especially when other organs are involved.

Facade's avatar

Update: I caved and went to the ER yesterday. After some tests, it turns out I have gastritis. Looking back, I’ve had this for quite a while– about two years. It was just exacerbated by the circumstances surrounding the alcohol. The doctor gave me two medications to take, and I have them on reserve. I’m going to go the natural route for treatment for a couple days and see if there is improvement before taking the medications.

cazzie's avatar

Have you tried any probiotic yoghurts? What do they think caused the gastritis? Do you take aspirin or ibuprofen or tylenol frequently? Do you skip meals and just drink coffee sometimes?

Facade's avatar

@cazzie I’ve been “skipping meals” since I was a kid, but I’ve been trying to get that on track for a while. So that, coupled with extreme stress means that I really shouldn’t drink alcohol unless I’ve had a full meal. And even then, it’s like Why drink at all? I guess this is the motivation I needed to really get my shit together (i.e. start eating and living like a regular, healthy person).
Oh, you asked about probiotics… The funny thing is that I have a pretty extensive collection of knowledge on how to be optimally healthy, but putting it into practice has proven very difficult for me. But like I said, now I have to. On a happy note: I’m pretty much back to my regular weight (which is still not where I want to be) after losing the five pounds I’d gained!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

What an outrage that so many Americans fear to seek medical attention when they feel ill.

Fortunately, in England and Canada, sick people just go see the doctor without fearing the financial consequences.

Do what makes sense to you. If you feel sick and you are in pain, you need to be seem by a doctor, even if that means going to the county hospital.

Facade's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence It is an outrage. A person’s health shouldn’t depend on how much money they have, but in America, money rules everything.

To update everyone, I’ve been utilizing nature’s medicine (aloe vera, coconut water, alkalizing foods) since Friday, and I already feel substantially better. This issue has actually prompted me to adopt a plant-based diet (since I can’t eat “normally” right now), so I’m thankful something good could come out of it.

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