Heartburn Treatments In Chico: A Different View

New research suggests that anti-acids may be doing some people a lot of harm

Are antacids doing more harm than good?

Nearly 100 million Americans suffer from heartburn every month. Those afflicted with heartburn often describe their symptoms as a searing or burning sensation in the upper stomach and under the breastbone, or as an acid taste in the mouth. In recent years, the medical community has named this condition Gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD for short. GERD can lead to sleep disorders, chronic cough, asthma, and even deadly esophageal cancer. 

Heartburn Cure, Stomach Gas, Gerd

Experts think that environmental and lifestyle factors are the main causes of GERD. Obesity, poor dietary habits, smoking, alcohol consumption, and use of drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen all seem to be causes of GERD. Long term use of aspirin and gerd almost always occur together. When we have heartburn, the contents of our stomach irritate the lining of the upper stomach and the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the mouth with the stomach. One serious side effect of aspirin, ibuprofen, and many other common drugs is that they damage the stomach’s protective lining. Damage to the stomach’s protective lining makes us more sensitive to our own stomach acid. 

Usually the GERD symptoms are treated with drugs that either neutralize acid, or block acid production. There has been an explosion in the use of these drugs over the last decade.  One category of the drugs used to treat the heartburn symptoms is proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, and Protonix brands. Proton pump inhibitors are the second largest group of prescription drugs. More than 93 million prescriptions for these drugs were written in 2004 alone.

Recent research suggests that acid-reducing drugs may actually be contributing to the rise in cancer of the esophagus. Cancer of the esophagus, a very difficult cancer to treat, is now the fastest growing cancer. While Antacids can relieve the GERD symptoms, researchers think that they may be setting the stage for other complications such as bile or alkaline reflux also known as NERD. Bile, an alkaline substance in gastric juices can eventually create more damage than acid. Alkaline substances actually do more damage to the body than acids! A familiar but deadly (if swallowed) alkaline household product is Drano. Among the other complications that patients have told me occur when taking acid blocking medications are heartburn headache fatigue bloating and bowel problems.

Treating the symptoms of heartburn or GERD with drugs usually does not get to the cause of the problem, which are environmental and lifestyle factors. Alternative treatments for GERD, Addressing the underlying causes of GERD, such as poor dietary habits, weight, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption can be the safest and most cost effective way to beat your heartburn and improve your overall health. 

Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, Internal Health Specialist, Founder of the Digestion Relief Center, in Chico California specializes in effective, natural relief for IBS, food sensitivities and digestive problems. Learn more at www.digestionreliefcenter.com.

Published in the Paradise Post "Health & Fitness" January 2006. 

2006, © Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC. All Rights Reserved.

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