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Shortness of breath after eating in pregnancy. Cause?

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I am 9 weeks pregnant and have twice experienced shortness of breath. Typically right after eating a large meal, or eating too fast and then trying to walk it off. When I went to the ER, they checked me out for everything. My blood work showed slight anemia. The EKG and heart ultrasound looked good. It was inconclusive.
Yesterday I had another episode of being unable to breath after eating Ethiopian food. I later felt an odd sensation in my chest. Perhaps heartburn? I've never had it in my life, so I don't know what it feels like. Last time it was Mexican tacos. I'm Mexican and regularly eat lots of spicy food. Love Indian and Thai food. More spice the better. But the heartburn has never existed for me before this pregnancy, unless its something else. What worries me is that I also developed left arm pain during the supposed 'heartburn' episode/chest discomfort. I took 5 Rollaids and Tylenol, and within an hour, both sensations disappeared and I could finally go to sleep. On another occasion I also had terrible left arm pain, but with no other symptoms, at around 6 weeks pregnancy. This is my first pregnancy, and I am extremely bloated, to the point that I am already wearing maternity clothes. I would love some advice on how to handle this. My first ob/gyn visit is not until a week from today. Should I be concerned?
Thank you

Category: Cardiologist

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Category: Cardiologist
 18 Doctors Online

Thanks for posting your query at
Your symptoms are quite classic of pregnancy heartburn.
There are various points that clinch this diagnosis -
1. Relation of your symptoms to meals, particularly spicy ones.
2. Relief with Antacids.
3. Normal cardiac workup.
I am very sure this is gastritis, irritation of the lining of the stomach due to spicy food.
And yes, this does not happen normally.
But during pregnancy, your hormones will change the way your body reacts to spicy food.
The irritation is heightened during pregnancy.
You can avoid this by simple measures -
1. Avoid spicy food, if you are a spice lover, it will be difficult, but yes, you need to avoid it, atleast for the first 14 weeks, then you can see if you can slowly tolerate more spice.
Try using natural taste substitutes - lime, thyme, oregano etc, instead of pure chili.
2. Avoid eating meals for atleast 2 hours prior to bedtime.
3. Space out your food - have 5 - 6 small meals instead of 2 - 3 big ones.
4. Drink a lot of water.
5. Have a glass of chilled milk before bedtime.
Inspite of these measures, if symptoms persist, you would need to consult a gastroenterologist.
But in my mind, with avoidance of spice, the symptoms will disappear.
All the best
Please feel free to discuss further.

Patient replied :

thank you for your thorough answer.

Dr. Vivek Mahajan
Category: Cardiologist
Fellowship: DM, Cardiology, PGIMER, 2013
Residency: MD, Internal Medicine, AIIMS, 2007
Internship: King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, 2003 
Medical School: MBBS, Seth G.S. Medical College, 2002
Dr. Vivek Mahajan and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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