When it comes to chronic heartburn, what you don't know could hurt you and even kill you.
Millions of Americans suffer from GERD, a chronic digestive disease that happens when stomach acid flows back into your food pipe.
A lot of people know the condition causes heartburn, but there's a lot more to it.
It can strike suddenly.
"Chest pain and I got to the place where I almost thought I was having a heart attack," says Wayne Vanek who suffers from acid reflux.
Chronic heartburn, known as GERD, affects more than 21 million Americans, but there are a lot of myths out there. The first: it's not serious. Doctor James Rosser says it can actually develop into a deadly disease.
"It can lead to the fastest growing cancer in America: esophageal cancer," explains Doctor Rosser.
Another myth: heartburn is the only sign. In fact a dry cough, sinus problems, and even asthma are also symptoms.
"Up to sixty percent of the patients in this country with asthma are theorized to be caused by acid reflux," Rosser says.
You might believe medicine will take care of it, but Doctor Rosser says the truth is drugs alone cure less than half of patients.
Some think diet doesn't make a difference when dealing with GERD, but they're wrong!
Soy milk, manuka honey, chamomile tea, bananas, and oatmeal can reduce symptoms.
But stay away from chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, and canned foods.
"Canned foods are terrible, and you know why?” asks Rosser. “Because in order to extend the shelf life, they have a lot of acid in the canned foods."
The last myth: GERD only affects adults. Kids, even babies can have reflux, but Doctor Rosser says no matter what your age there's help!
"You don't have to settle being miserable,” he explains. “That would be my take-away."
Doctor Rosser says many people are also unaware of the side effects of common heartburn medications.
Some can cause pneumonia, diarrhea, bone fractures and are even associated with a dangerous infection known as C-DIFF.
He says, for some patients, surgery may be a safer and better option.
"GERD" NERD! 5 ACID REFLUX MYTHS
BACKGROUND: One in ten Americans experiences heartburn symptoms at least once a week. Heartburn is a painful burning feeling in the chest or throat. It happens when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD. Recent studies show that GERD in infants and children is more common than previously recognized and may produce recurrent vomiting, coughing, and other respiratory problems. (SOURCE: www.webmd.com)
COMMON HEARTBURN TRIGGERS: The specific triggers for heartburn differ from person to person. A number of foods and drinks can cause heartburn; some common triggers are:
* Alcohol, particularly red wine
* Black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods
* Citrus fruits and products, such as oranges and orange juice
* Coffee and caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda
HEARTBURN IS NOT A HEART CONDITION: Heartburn is caused by acidic fluid from the stomach washing up into the esophagus, or the swallowing tube. It is not caused by a heart condition. The discomfort of heartburn is often a burning sensation directly beneath the breastbone, causing some people to immediately think it's related to the heart, although it is not. The discomfort is often accompanied by burping, or symptoms of bloating or gas. Sometimes an acid taste occurs in the mouth. These symptoms are not indicative of or consistent with a heart condition. (SOURCE: www.prilosecotc.com)
HEARTBURN REMEDIES MYTHS AND TRUTHS: There is a lot of misleading information out there on how to properly treat heartburn, such as drinking cream or milk. Doctors do not recommend drinking milk to reduce heartburn, as it has been proven that milk temporarily reduces the symptoms only to later increase acid production by the stomach, which causes more heartburn. Doctors recommend making lifestyle changes to treat heartburn, such as:
* Avoiding foods and beverages that can weaken the LES is recommended. These foods include chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, coffee, and alcoholic beverages.
* Eating meals at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime may lessen reflux by allowing the acid in the stomach to decrease and the stomach to empty partially.
* Elevating the head of the bed on 6-inch blocks or sleeping on a specially designed wedge reduces heartburn by allowing gravity to minimize reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. Do not use pillows to prop yourself up which only increases pressure on the stomach.
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"GERD" NERD! 5 ACID REFLUX MYTHS
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