Heartburn Myths And Facts Are Running Rampant
Myth:Over-the-counter products don’t really have any effect on acid reflux.
Fact: Today’s wide variety of acid reflux products are extremely effective in the day-to-day battle of occasional acid reflux. In fact, the past decade has seen an explosion of growth in this area, and many new medications and preparations have been introduced to the market. Many products which were once available only by prescription have subsequently been determined to be safe for non-prescription use. These include H-2 acid blockers, like Pepcid and Tagamet, and the newer and more powerful proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium. These products work by binding with the cells lining the stomach, preventing acid from being produced and released by the stomach. In addition, antacids can be very effective in alleviating pain and burning once symptoms have begun. Remember that these products, although available over the counter, are still medicines, and need to be taken as indicated on the package. In addition, because different antacids contain different acid neutralizers, certain antacids may not be advisable for individuals with high blood pressure or kidney stones. Ask for pharmacist for recommendations, and also seek advice about possible interactions with any other medications you may be taking.
Myth: A glass of milk is a good home remedy to help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.
Fact: Although milk had for years been touted as a good home cure for the pain and burning of acid reflux, in fact it actually causes symptoms to become exacerbated soon after drinking it. A glass of milk – especially cold milk – may seem to soothe the symptoms initially, but because milk products cause an increase in the production of stomach acid, your symptoms can actually become worse within 20 to 30 minutes of milk consumption.
Myth: A drink of wine, beer, or another alcoholic beverage before bed is a great way to reduce stress and relieve nighttime acid reflux.
Fact: Alcohol contains carbohydrates, and can actually increase the production of stomach acid. Most individuals should avoid alcohol whenever possible, and especially before bed, when the prone position assumed during sleep can increase the likelihood of acid reflux.
Myth: A bedtime snack will help soothe my stomach and allow me to sleep better through the night.
Fact: Foods need to be digested, and digestion causes the stomach to produce acid. Lying down allows acid to press against the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that normally keeps food and stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs. When pressure is placed on the valve, it can weaken and open slightly, allowing acid to reflux. For this reason, it’s best to avoid any food within the two-hour period before going to bed.
Myth: Mints before bed are a calming way to relax before sleep.
Fact: While the swankiest hotel chains include mints in their turn-down services, in fact a mint before bed is not a good idea for those who suffer from acid reflux. Mint is a known cause of acid reflux in most individuals who are prone to the condition; and if your mint is covered in chocolate, that’s another contributing factor for acid reflux. Mints eaten before bed are particularly problematic, since acid reflux is also more likely to occur when you’re lying down. Generally, mints should be avoided by men and women who suffer from acid reflux, and all food should be avoided within two hours of bedtime.
Myth: Everyone suffers from acid reflux at some point in time; it’s nothing serious.
Fact: While it’s true millions of men and women suffer from heartburn every day, and most acid reflux is related to dietary factors, in some individuals acid reflux can be a symptom of a more serious, underlying condition, such as a peptic ulcer, hiatal hernia, or even tumor. Moreover, chronic acid reflux can cause respiratory problems, such as bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia. And, when the lower esophagus is repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, you may develop a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that involves abnormal changes to the lining of the esophagus and involves a significantly increased risk of cancer.