Acid Reflux disease, also known as heartburn or GERD

Acid reflux, also familiar to many of you as severe heartburn and to the medical community as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), stems from the fact that I have suffered from it for almost all of my adult life.

My interest in acid reflux disease

For the first few years, I had no idea what it was, only that my stomach and esophagus would burn something awful for hours after eating. In those days, the only acid reflux treatments that were offered were things like Tums and Mylanta which didn’t really help me and seldom relieved my symptoms. It never occurred to me, or my doctor, to try changing what I ate.

Eventually, I found a doctor who began prescribing medications and I started to educate myself about the condition primarily from articles that would occasionally appear in magazines and newspapers. Okay, so here’s how old I am. This was all before there was such a thing as the World Wide Web i.e. the internet, Google, WebMD, Wikipedia, etc. There was no way to do the kind of research we take for granted today where a few clicks can bring up massive amounts of information on just about anything.

Some medical talk

It’s probably a good idea to provide just a little medical information about the condition. The definition of acid reflux is when stomach acid gets pushed up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food and drink from your mouth to your stomach. Although it is normal and harmless for this to happen as burps and belches and it usually has no serious symptoms. But when it happens too frequently it burns the inside of the esophagus then you have a serious problem. It is estimated that 15-20% of all adults have some form of acid reflux or GERD.

Heartburn is the most common form of acid reflux, a painful, burning feeling in the chest or throat. About 20%-40% of people diagnosed with heartburn have the more serious form known as GERD. One of the ways this happens is that the diaphragm, a muscle located above your stomach doesn’t strengthen as it is supposed to and thus doesn’t close the sphincter muscle properly and allows the stomach acids to back up into esophagus. Ouch!

What can cause acid reflux?

If you research the literature, you will find many theories to go along with many remedies. Studies show, among other things:

  • Being overweight puts pressure on the diaphragm which causes it to not function properly which is one reason pregnant women suffer from the condition.
  • Some scientists suggest that undigested carbs remaining in the stomach too long cause too much bacterial growth and thus bloating and gassiness.
  • Alcohol. Some studies show that drinking wine and beer increases reflux symptoms by increasing stomach acid and relaxing the lower sphincter thus impairing its ability to clear out the acid.
  • Eating too fast, eating certain foods. Eating a large meal and then lying down.
  • smoking
  • Certain drugs. Such as:
    • Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and aspirin
    • Blood pressure drugs called calcium channel blockers
    • Antihistamines for allergies
    • Sedatives, including benzodiazepine
    • Certain antibiotics, including tetracycline
    • Oral osteoporosis drugs
    • Opioids
  • Stress and anxiety also appear to play a role but exactly why and how is another subject of studies and discussion.

There are a variety foods which typically cause acid reflux. Here are just a few:

  • Citrus bothers some people but not others
  • Bananas. These affect everyone differently and for me they were one of my most avoided foods. For others, they are recommended as a cure. Go figure.
  • Coffee
  • french fries and other deep-fried foods. (sorry fired chicken lovers)
  • potato chips
  • butter
  • whole milk. It took me years to finally be convinced that milk, cheese, ice cream were causing me distress
  • pizza

There many others that the experts recommend staying away from and for most people it is a trial and error process. Most the things we really love, comfort foods, are some the worst ones to eat. No more hot pastrami and cheese with Russian dressing and cole slaw. That one is a real killer!

Some Treatments for acid reflux disease

There are a variety of ways to treat acid reflux disease, everyone reacts differently. First of all, if you are having a serious problem you may need to consider life-style changes having to do with what you eat, how much eat, when you eat and even how you sleep. As you can see from the above list, it’s really all about food.

Most people start off with various over the counter antacids which can be effective at least for a while. These include Mylanta, Rolaids and Tums. My experience has been that one thing works great for a while and then stops working and I had to find something else. Here are the typical drugs that are usually prescribed:

  • Foaming agents (Gaviscon) coat your stomach to prevent reflux. This is over the counter and I’ve been using it for years either before I eat or afterwards when I would start to feel the reflux starting. It usually works within an hour or so. It is pill that you chew up and swallow, very chalky and doesn’t taste that good but you get used to it
  • H2 blockers (Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) decrease acid production. These are three over the counter meds most people use and they are available in generic form for a lot less money
  • Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Nexium) also reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. These are the prescription meds for when it really gets bad.

There are also natural remedies that work well for some:

  1. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar boosts the immune system, aids digestion, and decreases the number of bad gut bacteria that cause acid reflux disease.
  2. Fennel Seeds.
  3. Aloe Vera. This is my favorite and I will be providing more information
    Aloe based product
    This will help your acid reflux

    about this one in a future post

  4. Ginger.
  5. Peppermint.

Conclusion

I’ll conclude this post by pointing out that acid reflux disease, also known as heartburn and GERD is a serious condition which afflicts millions of people. If left alone it can create serious problems in the throat, esophagus and stomach. The pain is usually such that not many of us can ignore it and seek some sort of treatment.

Please leave me your comments or questions by clicking on the “comments” link on the left side at the beginning of the article.  I will be sure to get back to you.

 

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18 thoughts on “Acid Reflux disease, also known as heartburn or GERD”

  1. Hi Joe – thanks for sharing this useful post. I have suffered from acid reflux for many years now, aggravated by drinking wine unfortunately! I don’t think most people realise just what an impact it can have on everyday life, and don’t take it seriously. I tried natural remedies but they had little effect. I now take a daily proton pump inhibitor (Omeprazole) which works wonders. All the best, Diane

  2. I can see why being overweight can cause some acid reflux issues. I am currently dealing with it at the moment. 

    I am wondering if drinking soda or a lot of carbonated drinks is another contributing factor to acid reflux? Also, I heard drinking 1 glass of wine was good for overall health. Should it be avoided until acid reflux symptoms are gone?

    1. That did not come up in any of my research and I never had a problems from them. Here the link to a product that have been using this past year with great results. It is available at Amazon and other places. I hope to make this my first affiliate product as I really believe in it

  3. Thank you for interesting article on Acid Reflux,

    I had never thought to look so in depth as to cause of Acid Reflux/heartburn and instead just reached out for nearest bottle of Gaviscon to assist me. Thinking about it though, most of the symptoms listed are what cause my Acid Reflux and do you believe that my significantly cutting down my intake of many of these foods would assist just as much as taking some alternative herbal remedies.

    1. Once I began to understand the condition, the first thing I did was change my diet and gradually eliminate most of what is on that list. This past year I found the Aloe based product which has worked incredibly well and now I am eating almost anything. LINK But since I’ve been of things like fried food and pizza for so long I still avoid them

  4. Thanks for sharing this great post about acid influx or heartburns and remedies. I know so well that aloe vera works well as a natural remedy for heatrburn but I’m coming across ginger and peppermint being a remedy for the very first time and I’m amazed. Are there no side effects to using ginger and peppermint to subside acid influx? Or Ginger is a perfect H2 blocker.

  5. You mentioned that undigested carbs are a potential cause of GERD. There are a lot of popular diets that are lower in carbs, like Paleo, Keto, and Atkins. Does a low carb diet help in the long term to reduce instances of heartburn? 

    You talked about a lot of potential treatment options too – modern pharmaceuticals, lifestyle change, and natural remedies. I know my first reaction is just to reach for the tums when I get heartburn. To someone who is getting heartburn for the first time, would you recommend trying natural remedies or something else first? 

    1. I went on the Zone Diet a number of years ago which is a balanced diet of carbs, protein and fat. The author teaches you about the different kind of carbs and differentiates between good and bad carbs. Too much to go into here but you look for the book “The Zone Diet”. When I followed it strictly I lost weight and pretty much ended my acid reflux.

      Here is the LINK to my favorite natural product. Instead of Tums, if they are not working great, try Gaviscon.

  6. Oh my goodness, l never thought that a simple heartburn could be a serious thing and actually its a disease. I sometimes suffer from heartburn, and it can happen whether my stomach is full or empty. 

    So my question is, do l need to seek medical advice about it? it really comes and go, like I could go a week without, then it comes back.

    Very Informative post. 

    1. I would think not until becomes chronic. Meanwhile check out this LINK for a product I’m hoping to my first affiliate market when I get to that lesson in the training

  7. The other day ny daughter was having bad acid reflux after eating too much. I quickly searched for remedies online. I found this article which helps me understand how and why. And gave me practical solutions to remedy such situations. I gave her peppermint tea. She felt better after about half an hour. Thanks for sharing. This is very helpful.

  8. Hi Joe,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this useful information. It was really helpful. The very moment I saw the title of your article, I was curious to read and know what you’re going to talk about. To be frank, I have suffered from Acid Reflux several years in my adulthood.

    And as you rightly said, I experience this especially after eating. I often experience heart burn when I eat heavy food. It seems though that now it has reduced, unlike first. I really didn’t know what it is all about until I did some research on the internet and discovered that it is actually acid that comes up from the stomach into the chest or esophagus to cause that heart burn.

    Thanks a lot for the practical steps you listed that can help reduce it. You also mentioned that, undigested curbs in the stomach can produce a lot of bacterial that can cause that. Other even claim that, acid reflux is associated with bad breath or halitosis. What do you think about that? Do you know anything about that?

    I will be glad to know.

    Stephen.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. No, I don’t about the bad breath but it will interesting to research it and if I a connection I’ll put it my next post

  9. Well I never knew that heartburn is referred to as acid reflux thank you for teaching me this. My mother really suffers from this kind of ailment which makes her be very choosy on what she eats. Most foods end up causing so much heart burn that she has to be on medication after a meal. Apart from the natural treatment, is the other treatment you have indicated available over the counter or you need a doctor’s prescription to get it.

    1. Thanks for writing. I think I indicated which ones are over the counter. But here is a LINK to a great product that I have been using with great success. I’m planning on using it as my first affiliate market as soon as I get to that point my training

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