Good News, It’s not the Gluten, it’s the Advil.

A bottle of 50 200mg Advil caplets

I have believed for over a year that I am gluten sensitive. Turns out I’m not.

Apparently if you are popping Advil like it’s candy and your doctor asks you what medications you are taking, it’s probably a good idea to tell him.  It’s especially a good idea to mention that if you happen to be, oh I don’t know, in the emergency room of a local hospital at say 3 in the morning.

“It would have helped if you’d told me you’ve been taking Advil. No wonder your gut is messed up.”

yeah yeah yeah.

I wouldn’t be popping Advil if my ankle didn’t hurt so badly and I didn’t think it was relevant.

Doctors hate me. Have I told you that recently?

I’m the knight in Monty Python, “It’s only a flesh wound. Come here and let me bite your knee caps.”

I hate going to the doctors and they hate seeing me half dead. I’m a classic tough it out kind of gal. Fortunately, I’m married to a man who wouldn’t be caught dead in the doctor’s office himself but truly does not mind taking me. Sadist.

I woke up with stomach pains a few weeks back and tried to walk it off when my husband woke up. I was trying to be quiet about it and not be a problem.  I’m pretty sure  my grabbing the foot of the bed and crouching like a lion every time the pain hit was less than subtle and a mild cause for concern. When the admitting nurse asked me to rate my pain I gave her a four.

Husband interjects at this point: “Four?! She’s doubled over, dropped over, can’t walk, can’t breathe and says her organs feel like they are going to fall out. I’m thinking it’s higher than a four.”

Hello morphine.

They took blood, injected dye that made me feel like I’d wet the bed (lovely) even though I hadn’t, and scanned everything. The best they can come up with is inflamed cilia. No kidney stones, blockages, appendicitis, pancreatitis or hepatitis, just inflammation. I was ready to say “see, I don’t need to be here.” when the chest pains hit.

That made me cry. Those hurt words than the stomach pain.

I’ve got to tell you, nothing makes an ER staff jump higher than chest pains, shortness of breath and vomiting. Suddenly, I am the most popular person on the ward, not counting knife wound guy. They wired me for sound faster than you can blink an eye and lo, my heart rate and oxygen levels were perfect.

This is why I hate going to the doctors — I feel stupid when they can’t find anything. Once they realized I wasn’t actually dying, they gave me this pretty purple drink that tastes horrid, numbs everything, and the chest pains stop just like that.

Anxiety attack?


Esophageal spasm.

Those aren’t nice, just sayin.

Once everything is calming down, my husband sweetly whispers in my ear, “Honey, I know you are a girl and everything, but can you please just fart so we can go home?”

I’m not sure if it’s the joke, the lack of sleep or the morphine, but I laughed for the first time all night.

I’m ready to be sent home when I find out that chest pains get you a golden ticket to stay for observation. I’d already had the full gambit of heart tests in September, I really did not want more but I didn’t win that argument.

Once admitted into my comfy room I send hubs home to sleep. I wanted to sleep, but like I said, chest pains make you more popular than a double D bra cup does in high school. Every time I drifted off to dream land someone came in to ask questions, draw blood or wire me to another machine.

It wasn’t until I met the nurse practitioner that we found the culprit. Advil overdose.

My NP noticed my right ankle was swollen larger than a baseball and she thought I had some water retention thing. Once I explained that I’d shattered my ankle as a kid and it swells and hurts at night when I’m active and that I pop Advil PM to help me sleep, she knew exactly what was wrong.

How long have you been taking Advil PM?

On and off for about three years.

Doctors hate me.

Possible side effects of Advil:

All medicines can cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Constipation; diarrhea; dizziness; gas; headache; heartburn; nausea; stomach pain or upset.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; trouble breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloody or black, tarry stools; change in the amount of urine produced; chest pain; confusion; dark urine; depression; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; mental or mood changes; numbness of an arm or leg; one-sided weakness; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; severe headache or dizziness; severe or persistent stomach pain or nausea; severe vomiting; shortness of breath; stiff neck; sudden or unexplained weight gain; swelling of hands, legs, or feet; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual joint or muscle pain; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision or speech changes; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

See also:Advil side effects (in more detail)

OOPS. No more Ibuprofen for me. I’m now eating Greek Yogurt and Kefir daily as well as taking Vitamin D to heal my gut. All this time I thought I’d developed a Gluten issue and it was my advil habit. It turns out they did find something wrong. They also gave me a flu shot, which I thought was nice until I saw the bill. $285.00 for a shot I could have gotten at Walgreens for $25.00. The shock alone was almost enough to bring on the chest pains again.

As far as the chest pains – yes, I’ve been checked out by a cardiologist. My cholesterol is 165ish, I have zero blockages in my arteries, I passed the stress test with flying colors, my lungs look wonderful and aside from a slight heart murmur and a small dose of Lisinopril for blood pressure, I am in better cardiovascular health than my physically fit husband. Yes this kills him.


Side Note: I shattered my ankle when I was eight. I’ve had surgery to correct it when I was younger and now it’s beyond repair according to my present doctors. I’ve been to two specialists, both agree I can either get a metal brace or have it fused. I refuse to do either and I’m hoping that losing weight will relieve the daily pain. Everything I’ve tried so far (walking, running, Zumba, aerobics)  just makes the pain worse so now I’m riding a bike.
Cycling does not put pressure on my ankle, I can ride for miles with no ill effects – other than falling off repeatedly, and no more Ibuprofen.


2 thoughts on “Good News, It’s not the Gluten, it’s the Advil.

  1. There are some unorthodox means of dealing with that kind of localized pain and inflammation without the “gut” side effects. I will get the info to you via email. And yes, you must ALWAYS tell the doctors EVERYTHING you take when it comes to herbs, OTC and prescriptions.


    • That would be awesome thank you. The Advil habit is a hit or miss – don’t do it every day there fore… yeah yeah yeah.. My primary told me to cut it out. Advil does nasty things to your stomach. I didn’t realize that.


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