Nothing like a slow burn in the middle of your chest or the back of your throat to wake you up at night in a panic! Or at least in a lot of pain. The most common cause for this experience is gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD.
About 60% of American adults will have some symptoms of reflux or heartburn in a year’s time, and more and more children are developing them, too. Silent reflux is another very common diagnosis, even when you don’t have classic “acid indigestion” symptoms.
Why is it so common? Many of us have gut bacteria imbalances lower down in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from too much stress, too many antibiotics, or food intolerances that have upstream effects creating reflux, gas, bloating, or abnormal stools. Or perhaps your anatomy gets in the way of normal downward muscular action of the esophagus so that your food doesn’t drop down into the stomach normally. Many medications can also predispose to reflux, as can sleep apnea.
When we take an acid blocker such as “the purple pill” or Prilosec, we get relief from that terrible burning sensation, but it only makes matters worse in the long run.
We are learning more and more about the long-term side effects of these medications, which includes diarrhea, pneumonia, muscle spasms, osteoporosis, and more concerning cancer and dementia. Once started on these medications, people often continue them for years because they don’t know how to solve their underlying imbalance to eliminate the reflux and the need for medication.
Here are 5 Tips for Avoiding Reflux:
- Don’t eat a meal within two hours of going to bed, so that the stomach is empty when you lie down.
- Dairy products cause reflux, or can make it much worse.
- A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a little water at the end of your meal may nip reflux in the bud if too little stomach acid is the cause of your reflux.
- If apple cider vinegar makes your reflux worse, try a ½ tsp of baking soda in a little water instead; if this brings relief, then you may have a problem with too much acid.
- Simple modifications such as elevating the head of your bed and lying on your left side can help.
Live in our neighborhood? Come join our community talk, “Get to the Root of your Reflux” and find out more about common causes GERD, how to figure out what might be your specific trigger(s), and how you can solve the problem by getting to the root cause. Dr. Gereau and Elizabeth Greig will be talking about symptoms in both children and adults and there will be time for answers to your questions. Sign up here.
Meet Dr. Gereau: Sezelle Gereau, MD, is an integrative ENT/Allergist with more than 20 years of experience. She uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as sleep apnea, headaches, allergies and chronic sinusitis. Learn more about Dr. Gereau’s practice.
Meet Elizabeth Greig, FNP: In her dual role as our Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner and a teacher in our Mind.Body.Spirit programs at Blum Center for Health, Elizabeth Greig, MSN, FNP, helps treat and heal patients with complex chronic health conditions. Whether she’s treating a medical condition or leading a class in meditation, Elizabeth helps people understand that when it comes to healing, it’s more about nourishing life, than it is about battling illness. Learn more about Elizabeth’s practice.