More than 60 million people in the US suffer from Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD at least once per month, many experiencing it daily. Over half of pregnant women experience Acid Reflux regularly during the last trimester.
Acid Reflux is one of the most misdiagnosed ailments. The majority of patients are prescribed medications to treat excess stomach acid. In 99% of cases, low stomach acid is the underlying cause of acid reflux and GERD. This misdiagnosis likely happens because the symptoms for low stomach acid and excess stomach acid are the same.
Do you suffer from Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD? I am a long-time sufferer of first heartburn and then, later on, full-fledged Acid Reflux and GERD.
The first time I experienced heartburn I was about 14 years old. I’d been eating Cheetos and drinking Coke. I had consumed these many times before without consequence, but this time it caused a burning sensation in my upper chest and throat. It wouldn’t be the last time.
My mother gave me an antacid tablet, and it went away; for a while. I started getting it every few months. My parents assumed it was a genetic thing, “Everyone in the family has it!”, “You have a hiatal hernia,” I was told.
So I suffered from it for years, eating antacid tablets by the handful, right through my twenties. I carried them with me everywhere I went.
Later on, in my mid-thirties and forties, I started waking up in the night with acid being expelled by my stomach into the back of my throat. A few times it went down into my lungs as well. It’s severely damaged my teeth and most likely my esophagus and very possibly my lungs.
In my fifties, I had full on Dysphagia, mostly in the early part of the day. I had issues with some foods over others - eating eggs and toast always triggered it, eating meat did sometimes.
My teeth are ruined, pieces chip away just from flossing my teeth, the teeth themselves are ground down to half their original size because they are softened by all the acid. My dentist says it looks like I have been chewing on Coke bottles.
I have recently altered my lifestyle, stopped taking so-called Acid Reflux medication, antacids or any type of acid reducing medication, added a few supplements to increase hydrochloric acid and improve my digestion, and consciously improved my posture.
I have experienced acid reflux once in the last 5 years; I used to experience it at least once a week for over 30 years. I feel that I have cured my GERD.
When did you first get heartburn and do you know what caused it. Do you know what causes it now?
The terms heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD are often used interchangeably; what’s the difference?
Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, is a painful burning sensation in the middle, upper chest (your esophagus). Heartburn is a symptom. Heartburn is the primary symptom of Acid Reflux and GERD. Mild, infrequent heartburn is probably nothing to worry about. It can be avoided by doing what I explain below.
Acid Reflux is a chronic condition where your stomach contents come back up into the esophagus resulting in either symptoms or complications.
GERD is a chronic, more severe form of Acid Reflux. If you have Acid Reflux more than twice per week or if your esophagus appears swollen, you have GERD. You should be checked by a doctor, as GERD can lead to complications including esophagitis, esophageal strictures, and Barrett's esophagus.
This is another type of acid reflux that causes respiratory issues. Also referred to as extraesophageal reflux disease (EERD). Unlike GERD, LPR rarely produces heartburn symptoms so is sometimes called "Silent Reflux".
If you have acid reflux you are probably very aware of most of the symptoms. There may be a few listed below that you experience but didn't realize they were associated with acid reflux.
Below is a list of the primary causes of acid reflux. They are listed in order of most likely causes but you may also have more than one from the list. I hope you won't be surprised that "Too much stomach acid," is not on the list.
Without one or more of the main causes none of these will cause a problem on their own.
There will be foods or drinks not on these lists that may affect you and no one else. There will be foods and drinks on this list that may never bother you.
I have a big problem with dry roasted peanuts. I love these things, but the powder or dust that they are coated with irritates my esophagus causing my LES to relax or not properly close. If I have a coke and a few handfuls of these dry roasted nuts within a few hours of going to sleep, I can almost guarantee that I will be woken an hour or so into my sleep with severe acid reflux.
Keep a Food Diary
Write down everything you eat and make a note of how you feel after. This will allow you to determine which foods cause you to have acid reflux symptoms. Include the time you ate, approximately how much you ate, and the time the symptom occurred.
While these factors do not cause acid reflux they do contribute heavily if you already have acid reflux or GERD:
If you have Acid Reflux symptoms more than twice per week, it is time to visit your doctor. Heartburn is the key indicator in diagnosing Acid Reflux disease, especially if lifestyle changes, antacids, or acid-blocking medications help reduce these symptoms.
If your symptoms are severe or frequent, your doctor will order tests to confirm a diagnosis and check for other problems. You may need one or more of the following tests:
If left unchecked there are numerous health issues associated with long-term Acid Reflux and GERD.
An estimated 60 million people take Acid Reflux medication daily. That’s based on prescribed medications – there is no estimating how much OTC medications are consumed. It was thought for many years that these medications were relatively safe.
Acid Reflux medication is usually only meant to be taken for two to eight weeks. This is stated on the packaging.
When taken for only two to eight weeks they are probably safe, but most patients are on them for the rest of their lives when they never needed to be on them in the first place. They should never be prescribed in most cases.
There are three types of Acid Reflux medication: Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s), H-2 Blockers, and antacid tablets. They all inhibit or reduce stomach acid. These medications work by suppressing or reducing the production of stomach acid. As stated above, having too much stomach acid is not the cause of Acid Reflux disease.
PPI’s and H-2 Blockers were intended for people suffering from an inflamed esophagus or stomach ulcers by reducing stomach acid for two to eight weeks giving these problems a chance to heal. They were not intended to combat Acid Reflux or be taken long term. See side effects of long term use in the next section.
Insufficient stomach acid is the primary cause, and by taking these medications, stomach acid is reduced even further resulting in many issues. Most of the side effects of these medications are caused by having insufficient stomach acid.
The risks increase the longer these medications are used. Some people are taking them more than once per day increasing the risks even further.
Note: Some of these findings could be because generally, people with Acid Reflux disease are in less than perfect health so these diseases could be pre-existing. To compensate for this, the researchers now compare people on PPI’s to people on H2 Blockers. Over a five-year period, 15 percent of PPI users were diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, versus 11 percent of those on H2-blockers.
Do not stop taking your medication without discussing with your doctor. Quitting these medications cold-turkey cause "acid rebound affect" - this will be the most sever acid reflux you have ever endured.
You will find that the most effective way you can manage your Acid Reflux symptoms is to avoid eating foods or consuming beverages that trigger the symptoms and to make some changes in your current lifestyle. Getting off the medication and using supplements to increase stomach acid production will resolve your acid reflux issues long term.
I'll repeat this in case you missed it above: Do not stop taking your medication without discussing with your doctor. Quitting these medications cold-turkey cause "Acid Rebound Effect" - this will be the most severe acid reflux you have ever endured.
Implementing any of these small changes could add up to drastic reduction of your acid reflux symptoms. Try implementing one or two of these every few weeks:
You should seek medical advice if you start having heartburn more than once or twice per week or if the burning sensation gets more severe and you experience other symptoms of Acid Reflux.
If your doctor wants to put you on antacids or proton pump inhibitors, you must question him as to why. In most cases, doctors do not test for low stomach acid which is the primary cause in 99% of people. Here is a link to a self-test you can perform at home.
In fact, most doctors test for Acid Reflux by prescribing Acid Reflux medications and only when the symptoms continue will they conduct real tests. Just because Acid Reflux medication relieves the Acid Reflux symptoms does not mean it is the best course of action. Acid Reflux is caused by low stomach acid, a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and an unhealthy lifestyle.
The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Please consult your doctor.
The information contained here does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are solely the views of the author.
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