It’s that feeling of a volcano erupting in your upper abdomen, spilling lava into your chest, sometimes rumbling all the way up into your throat and– yuck– into your mouth.
Lava is not too harsh an image to describe gastroesophageal reflux disease, better known by names like GERD, acid reflux, and chronic, really aggravating heartburn. But if you don’t like the lava image, then imagine your stomach as a whale swimming around your belly. Every so often it spouts acid straight up toward your nose.
If you have ever been awakened in the middle of the night by the sensation that partially digested food and acid from your stomach needs to make an urgent escape along the same path your meal went down, then you know GERD.
Anybody can experience a one-time or an occasional acidy burp. Just get a side of spicy buffalo wings with your pepperoni pizza and wash it down with a glistening, sweaty mug of beer, then go take a nap. That won’t be an experiment you will enjoy very much.
Acid reflux is often one of the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy, which we all know is a treatable and normally a temporary medical condition.
GERD becomes a more serious health issue when it becomes a chronic condition. It may be a sign of a poor diet or a complication from carrying too much weight. Some doctors connect GERD to hiatal hernias, which occur when a little bit of the stomach penetrates the diaphragm and enters the chest cavity.
Regardless of the cause, reflux occurs when the ring of muscle that serves as a doorway to the stomach weakens, allowing digestive juices and stomach contents to climb up the esophagus. GERD is always unpleasant. At its worst, people mistake the sensation with a heart attack. Usually, the feeling passes on its own after a few hours. Antacids can speed the recovery.
Usually, GERD responds to lifestyle changes. Eliminating certain foods can help. Coffee, soda, chocolate, tomatoes, onions, citrus and fatty foods commonly trigger the acid uprush. If you can’t abandon these foods, then at least aim for moderation. Then, work on dropping some pounds. Also, avoid going to bed with a full stomach. Eating within two or three hours of bedtime is a no-no.
And quit smoking. Cigarette smoking contributes to GERD. Plus, it’s disgusting.
There are prescription medicines– histamine blockers, proton pump inhibitors and promotility agents– which will ease the burn and treat the reflux. However, each prescription comes with its own list of side effects which, in some cases, aren’t much better than GERD.
Before turning to a prescription, it makes sense to make the aforementioned lifestyle changes. You can support those lifestyle changes with one of our supplements. Research shows raw cabbage can help restore normal function to your gastrointestinal tract. However, the words “raw cabbage juice” may make you want to throw up a little bit in your mouth. Gastrazyme, a supplement from Biotics Research, works on the same principal as cabbage juice, but only requires you to swallow a small, non-objectionable little pill.
Acid Block from RX Vitamins uses alginic acid and sodium alginate to create a little foamy cushion that holds your stomach contents down where they belong, in your stomach. T4 to T8 Bil has an odd name, but the supplement from Enzyme Formulations Inc, contains a list of ingredients with a long history of use for digestion issues including: turmeric, fennel, lecithin, cinnamon, ginger and taurine.
Beating GERD is a snap, when you are willing to make the right changes and the right choices. The good news: improvement in digestive health will improve your overall feelings of healthiness and vitality on a daily basis. Remember, if your stomach isn’t happy, you won’t be happy either.