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Reflux, Heartburn. GERD 
Acid-Reflex shown when esophagus muscle opens

Heartburn is basically a condition where gastric juices back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation which radiates upward.  It is usually part of a larger group of symptoms called 
"dyspepsis" or indigestion.

Your esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.  Normally, a muscle at the end of your esophagus closes after food is delivered into the stomach.  Reflux happens when this muscle does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it.  

When the acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus - some people experience it in a severe and frequent manner - you may feel a burning in the chest or throat, nausea, upper abdominal pain (usually after meals) flatulence and belching (gas), abdominal distension after eating, a sense of fullness after eating.  Sometimes, you can taste stomach fluid in the back of the mouth.  This is what is referred to as acid indigestion.

If you have these symptoms more than twice a week, it is called GERD. GERD is can be accompanied by hoarseness or wheezing, painful or difficult swallowing, vomiting, dramatic weight loss, with  increased severity of symptoms over time.  

This is due to the undigested food and stomach acid continually irritating the lining of the esophagus.   Unlike the stomach, the lining of the esophagus does not have a protective lining and is not designed to withstand the caustic effect of the acid. 

One of the reasons that this muscle weakens is due to a hiatal hernia.

Dietary Changes:

A number of things can contribute to esophagus irritation. 

  • Overeating  (too much food in the stomach pushes against the top of the stomach)
  • Overweight
  • Stress (and eating when upset)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Chocolate, peppermint
  • Eating too rapidly
  • Spicy foods
  • Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, some blood pressure medications, and any medication that relaxes the muscles as it will relax the esophagus muscle as well.
  • Drugs that irritate the GI (gastrointestinal) lining. (to check the side effects of drugs you may be taking check at www.drugs.com 
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Sugar
  • Smoking
  • Lying down after eating
  • Inadequate chewing
  • Swallowing large amounts of air when eating
  • Coffee, tea or other caffeine-containing beverages.
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Insufficient water intake
  • Tomato-based foods and citrus, raw onions, garlic, black pepper, vinegar. 
  • Ulcers
  • Food allergies
  • Poor food combining
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Enzyme deficiencies

Standard medical treatment is antacids as it is felt that this is created by excess stomach acid. 

Any of the drugs taken for reflux neutralize, reduce, suppress, or inhibit stomach acid production.  should not be taken for a extended time.   

It is true that heartburn and GERD are more often caused by deficiency or lack of stomach acid then by too much of it.  

Signs and Symptoms of GERD:

  • A Sense of fullness after eating
  • Acne
  • Bloating, belching, burning and flatulence immediately after meals
  • Chronic Candida infections
  • Chronic intestinal parasites or abnormal flora
  • Dilated blood vessels in the cheeks and nose.
  • Indigestion, diarrhea or constipation
  • Iron deficiency
  • Itching around the rectum
  • Multiple food allergies
  • Nausea after taking supplements
  • Undigested food in the stool
  • Upper digestive tract gassiness
  • Weak, peeling and cracked fingernails. 

Taking drugs for heartburn or GERD? 

Do you know that:

Did you know that drugs like Nexium, Tagamet, Omeprazole, Prevacid, Prilosec OTC, Zantac, Reglan, and more are only supposed to be used for 2 weeks maximum? 

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