Heartburn and Acid
Reflux a Common Condition and Treatment
According to the National Institutes of Health the incidence of a deadly
form of esophagus cancer is on the rise. The primary cause of this
cancer is gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). About 90 percent
of those that develop this cancer called adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
will be dead within five years and there are very few treatments for it.
It is important to learn the warning signs of GERD. Reflux occurs when
the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and the
stomach contents leak back in to the esophagus.
When the food leaks from the stomach and touches the lining of the
esophagus you may feel a burning sensation in the chest or throat. This
is called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the
mouth and this is called acid indigestion.
Occasional heartburn is common and this does not mean you have GERD.
GERD is commonly found in infants, children and pregnant woman but can
be experience by anyone. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week
may be considered GERD and should be treated.
GERD can occur in some people without them knowing it. Some people may
experience pain in the chest, or a hoarseness in the morning or trouble
swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat or
like you are choking. You may feel like your throat is tight. GERD can
also cause a dry cough and bad breath.
There are specialist (Internist or gastroenterologist) that can help
with GERD symptoms. You should see on of these doctors if you have a
concern. The treatment will depend on the severity and he / she may
prescribe a medication.
There are some lifestyle changes that will help. If you smoke you
should stop. Do not drink alcohol. Personally, I have heartburn after
drinking coffee. You should also lose weight and eat smaller meals.
Wearing loose fitting clothes can help alleviate the symptoms. Also
avoid lying down within three hours after a meal, and raise the head of
your bed. This will help keep the acids from traveling into the
esophagus. Use some wood under the bedposts or just add an extra
There are over the counter products than can help. You may want to try
some antacids like Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids,
and Riopan. Foaming agents such as Gaviscon work by covering the
stomach contents with a foam. The foaming agents help those without
damage to the esophagus.
Tagament HB (cimetiding), Pepcid AC (famotidine), Axid AR (nizatidine)
and Zantac 75 (ranitidine) help by impeding acid production. These drugs
are available in prescription strength and are also available in lower
dosages over the counter. These H2 blockers, as they are referred to
as, are effective in about half of the GERD cases. They are effective
at bedtime and in combination with proton pump inhibitors.
Proton pump inhibitors include Prilosec (omeprazole), Previcid (lansoprazole),
Protonix (pantoprazole), Aciphex (rabeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole).
These are available by prescription. According to the National
Institutes of Health they can relieve symptoms in just about everyone
There are some
drugs that will help strengthen the sphincter muscle that separates the
stomach from the esophagus. This group of drugs called prokinetics
include Urencholine (bethanechol) and Reglan (metoclopramide). They
also help empty the stomach quicker but have frequent side effects.
for other ailments a combination of drugs may be best. Talk to your
doctor about what is best for you. A combination of antacids and H2
blockers may be the ticket. The antacids will work to neutralize the
acid in the stomach while the H2 blockers will help stop the
production. By the time the antacids stop working the H2 blockers will
If you experience
frequent heartburn talk to your doctor. Treat the heartburn before
serious conditions arise.
By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Books on Dieting
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