What is Acid Reflux?
Did you know that the digestive tract is one continuous pathway starting at the mouth and ending at the lower part of the bowel (i.e. the anus)? The digestive process begins when food enters the mouth. When a person begins to chew food, digestive enzymes in the saliva break the food down before it is swallowed. The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. The stomach contains harsh enzymes and gastric acid that further break down food so it can be absorbed by the body.
Acid Reflex occurs when liquid from the stomach regurgitates into the esophagus. This liquid may contain stomach acids and bile. In some cases, the regurgitated stomach liquid can cause inflammation, irritation, and damage to the esophagus.
What causes it? It is unknown exactly what causes acid reflex. Several factors, including hiatal hernias (when the stomach pushes up through a hole in the diaphragm muscle), abnormally weak contractions of the lower esophageal sphincter (the smooth muscle found at the end of the esophagus), and abnormal emptying of the stomach after a meal, have been associated with it.
It is extremely important not to ignore symptoms of acid reflux. Long term irritation to the lining of the esophagus can lead to a condition called Barrett's Esophagus. About 10-15% of people with chronic reflux develop this pre-cancerous condition which can lead to the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma - a serious, potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus.
What are my treatment options?
Antacid medication is typically prescribed for the relief of heartburn pain. The more common ones include Dexilant, Nexium and Prevacid, which are all called PPI's (proton pump inhibitors).
The problem when using these as the solo treatment for heart burn, is that they have many side effects and longterm consequences. These are a result of decreased absorption of important nutrients such as iron and calcium leading to an increased risk of hip, wrist, and spine fractures. Use of some antacid medications may also increase the risk of pneumonia. Pepcid AC, in those with impaired kidney function can affect the central nervous system and may result in anxiety, depression, insomnia or drowsiness, and mental disturbances.
Natural alternative or complimentary options:
Interestingly, many peole who take antacids actually need supplements that will help to increase the amount of acid their stomach produces. As a result, these types of medications often make the symptoms worse. Various digestive tests can assess whether or not this is the case for you.
For those who require more then just nutritional changes and do not want to take medication, should investigate their natural treatment options. These include food allergy testing, acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicine, meal planning and stress management counceling. These treatments are offered by the holistic nutritionist and naturopathic doctors at Kleinburg Integrative Health. Stress management counceling is offered by the clinic psychotherapist and clinical psychologist.
If you are looking for effective treatments for acid reflux and live in or near Vaughan, come visit us at KIH clinic. We are located in Kleinburg (Vaughan), Ontario, right in the heart of the Kleinburg village. Fill out the form to the right of this page and we will get right back to you promptly with up-to-date, accurate and useful information on the next best steps in the treatment of your condition/concern.
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