Acid reflux does not discriminate.Old or young, lean or overweight, many people suffer from this potentially serious and annoying condition. Of course, most people have experienced a little reflux from time to time but when it becomes chronic, if not treated properly, the acid can start to erode your esophagus which in turn, can put you at risk for esophageal cancer.
It may appear that medication that reduces or totally blocks acid production in the stomach (known as PPI’s) is the answer to curing GERD but the fact is that shutting off acid production is only a temporary, surface solution. Indeed, the FDA does not even approve the use of acid blockers for more than 8 weeks! But we all know people that have been told by their doctor that they had to stay on it forever.
Besides the fact that PPI’s have not been tested for long term use, consider that acid in the stomach is very much needed to break down food, particularly protein. It’s also needed for proper absorption of many nutrients including calcium and vitamin B12. Indeed, we now know that in many cases, the stomach is actually not producing enough acid and what is really causing the reflux is that the esophageal sphincter (which is a valve that keeps the contents of the stomach from going back up into the esophagus) has become loose and is not shutting tight. If the sphincter is not shutting properly, whatever little acid the stomach is producing is refluxing back up in the throat causing the heartburn symptoms.
Ultimately, we have to ask the question WHY is this happening?, and not just simply be concerned with how to kill a symptom which is not only bad medicine but it’s really malpractice considering all the damage you can do to your body by permanently blocking acid production.
There are many possible causes of GERD but the top three root causes that I see in my practice include: food sensitivity (not to be confused with food allergy), infection,especially yeast overgrowth that can produce gases that prevent the sphincter from shutting properly, and lack of fiber in the diet! Indeed, food sensitivity is so common that EVERY person with GERD should have a food sensitivity panel run to rule it out. However, there are other things a person can do to help improve overall digestion including eating MUCH smaller but more frequent meals, avoiding caffeine, citrus and peppermint and here’s a big one: managing stress! Stress is a trigger that when coupled with any of the factors just mentioned can really cause tremendous reflux! Lastly another common cause of GERD is a hiatal hernia. This is a condition in which part of the stomach sticks upward into the chest, through an opening in the diaphragm. In turn, the pressure of the hiatel hernia could cause the esophageal sphincter to not shut properly thus leading to the reflux of stomach acid.
If you are suffering from GERD or Barett’s esophagitis and have been told that your only option is lifelong acid blockers, it’s time to rethink that and give us a call at 517-290-6041 and get to the bottom of it once and for all!