Holiday Heartburn

With the last minute of rush of Christmas shopping, the seat-burning traffic jams in the city, and the round of Christmas parties and late night binges, it is not surprising to find many people stressed out from the so-called holidays. One common complaint is heartburn, which, as one patient describes, is “like having a giant fireball struck in your throat.”

This condition is one of the many signs of gastroesophalgeal reflux disease (GERD), a common ailment felt by millions of people daily. In the US alone, it is estimated that over 100 million adults monthly and at least 25 millions daily are afflicted.

“Gastroesophageal reflux” is derive from a Latin term meaning “stomach to esophagus flowing backwards.” The stomach contains many digestive enzymes and acids. If these flow back into the throat and voice box, a person will experience discomforts like chest pains, indigestion, hoarseness, and sore throat, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, and coughing.

How would you know if you’re suffering from GERD, since its symptoms are similar to those of other ailments? Cardiovascular ailments, for one, have similar symptoms as heartburn. Among those who are more liable to develop the symptoms are women in the first trimester of pregnancy, late night eaters, obese people, tea and coffee drinkers, smokers and alcohol drinkers, those with collagen vascular disease, people over 60 and those with stressful lifestyles. Don’t these cover a majority of people?

The general publics are solution antacids and other prescription drugs, which are more in demand this season. In fact, you may have notice a lot of antacid advertisements, but the problem with taking these antacids and prescription drugs is that they do not really cure the ailment. Once you stop taking them, the symptoms persist. Aren’t we advertised to see a doctor when this kind of condition arises?

Even if you do have a variety of antacid brands to choose from, and regardless of what the drug companies may put forward about you’re “need” to stick to your products, hold on to your hard-earned money. Don’t rush toward to your local drugstore to get some. GERD is not a hi-tech disease. It is highly treatable by more conservative, non-drug

methods. According to medical literatures, 90% to 95% of GERD victims have been treated without medication.

A stressful life is experienced by those working in and out of the house. Sometimes, it

is non-stop work from the moment a person opens his eyes to the time he goes back to sleep. Although stress is not a direct cause of acid reflux, it nevertheless contributes to the problem. Acid in the stomach are increased with stress. High-fat foods, late night eating, strong coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol are the grids of a stressful lifestyle.

What is wrong with eating late at night? First of all, you’re fueling up a vehicle (body)

which is about to go to the garage (sleep). This may not be such an accurate analogy   because fuel just stays in the vehicle while the body continues its metabolism process even while at sleep. Lying down after eating at night disrupts the body’s normal acid handling mechanism. With the body lying horizontally, the esophagus makes the acid reflux easier to reach the upper throat. Swallowing and saliva production is reduced at night, which further adds to the problem. Hence, the acid reflux is neither swallowed nor neutralized as effectively while sleeping.

To check and treat GERD, stay away from offensive foods and habits. Have a program correcting your dietary habits and adopt an exercise to promote weight loss and reduce stress. You can also tilt your bed to facilitate the pull of gravity so acids won’t reflux to your throat. This done by raising the head of the bed to four to six inches, having a strong support for the legs of the bed, or having firm pillows by your head. Over 90% of those who have done these simple techniques have been effectively treated. Again, if symptoms persist, go see a more aggressive therapy.

Take it easy with the feasting and partying this Christmas. Happy Holidays!!!

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