reflux disease (GERD) is caused when the valve
between the esophagus does not close properly
and stomach acids push and irritate the delicate
lining of the esophagus. The most common
symptom of GERD is heartburn.
people have heartburn it should not be confused
with GERD. Although Buffer pH+ will help with
occasional heartburn attack, GERD is a chronic
and serious problem.
GERD is most
commonly caused when you esophageal sphincter
does not close properly. This little flap is
opens when you swallow and then closes. When it
becomes week or too relaxed, it doesn't close
properly and doesn't stop stomach acids from
going to the wrong place. It is
proven that certain foods may cause this tiny
muscle not to relax. Foods on this list
include chocolate, onions, peppermint, coffee,
high-sugar foods, and possibly high-fat foods.
Other foods like oranges and pizza don't relax
this muscle but they do further the problem if
the esophagus is already inflamed.
So now that we gave
you the formal definition. Here's are the
clinical terms broken out in common terms:
reflux, gastroespohageal reflux, esophagitis.....all
these terms are enough to make anybody's head
spin. So let's start by breaking some of this
down into plain English.
What is heartburn? The term "heartburn" can
mean different things to different people, but
it most commonly refers to the symptoms of acid
reflux or gastroespohageal reflux. Some people
will also use words like dyspeptic or
indigestion, although those are more generally
used to describe bloating, fullness, belching or
feeling like you need to belch, or nausea.
Heartburn is...well, basically, it's pain. It's
your esophagus crying foul. Heartburn is
generally described as a burning, tight, or
uncomfortable feeling in the center of the
chest, behind or near the breastbone. It's pain
or discomfort in the esophagus caused by the
lining of the esophagus being irritated when
stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. The
lining of the esophagus isn't designed to deal
with stomach acid so, just like skinning your
knee when you were a kid, the lining gets
irritated and it hurts.
So what's chronic heartburn?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines chronic
as "Lasting for a long period of time or marked
by frequent recurrence". Heartburn is generally
considered chronic if it occurs consistently 2
or more times a week. But even if it's not
occuring that often for you, if it's occuring
repetetively and often enough to bother you,
it's worth consulting your physician.
Esophagitis is the technical term for irritation
and inflammation of the esophagus. Again, it's
a symptom of the problem, or a result of the
problem. The repeated backup of acid into the
esophagus causes the irritation and
inflammation. And if left untreated, it can
eventually lead to bleeding or ulcers in the
esophagus and other problems.
Acid Reflux/Gastroesophageal Reflux
Ahh, now here we go. This is the what's keeping
you up nights. This is what makes you wish you
had stock in antacids. This is what makes you
look longingly at the local pizzeria as you
drive by. You may have also heard acid reflux
disease or gastroesphageal reflux disease (gerd),
but we'll get to those in a minute. For the
moment, let's leave the disease part off the
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux are
pretty much the same thing. Technically, one
(acid reflux) refers to what is happening (acid
is backing up into the esophagus) and the other
(gastroesophageal reflux) refers to the system
and organ being affected (the esophagus, part of
the gastrointestinal system, is being irritated
by the reflux of acid into it). Phew, okay, now
that we got the technicalities out of the way,
what IS it? (We're going to use the term acid
reflux for the rest of this discussion because,
hey, let's face it, it's shorter to type.) To
understand what it is, let's start with a little
basic biology. And I mean just a little, so
hang in there. We all know that you eat by
putting food in your mouth. And we know that
that food then goes on to your stomach where all
sorts of interesting chemical reactions go on
and then the 'food' goes on to other parts of
the body. For the purposes of this discussion
we're not going any further than the stomach.
Okay, so, you put food in your mouth and it ends
up in your stomach. And how does it get to your
stomach class? It travels down this nifty
connecting tube called your esophagus. On a
basic level, that's all your esophagus is, a
road between your mouth and your stomach. (Yes,
there are muscles and things involved and blah
blah, we're trying to keep this simple). Now,
and here's the important part, the esophagus was
designed to be primarily a one way street. The
food is supposed to go down and stay there.
Sure, there are mechanisms for 'emergencies' to
allow traffic to go the other way, but that's
not supposed to happen on a regular basis. At
the bottom of the tube (esophagus) there's a
flap (the lower esophageal flap or lef) that's
supposed to keep things that are in the stomach
from getting up into the esophagus. And this
little bugger is a big part of your problem.
Basically, for folks who suffer from acid
reflux, the flap isn't working properly and it's
allowing acid to backup into the esophagus. And
that irritates the esophagus and the esophagus
creates pain to let you know it's irritated and
you end up doing the frantic antacid dance.
It's the flap's fault.
Who broke my flap and how do I fix it?
Well, um, basically, it's likely that you broke
it. Hey, hey, don't shoot the messenger. But
seriously, there are certain physical problems.
like hiatal hernia, that can cause or contribute
to an acid reflux problem. But for most folks
who suffer with this it's something that
developed over time.
So, what can you do to help fix it? The first
thing to remember is that this is likely a
problem that's been developing for awhile, so
don't expect to fix it overnight. But don't be
discouraged. For most people, it can be
improved or cleared up. One of the keys to
getting better is to stop the irritation. As
long as the irritation continues, the pain will
continue along with the likelihood of damage.
So the first step is to prevent the reflux so
that the irritation can heal. Now, one of the
reasons that many people have difficulty in
treating their reflux is that the
recommendations they've been presented with seem
unreasonable or too difficult to implement.
This is where we
come in. As a long time reflux suffer, since I
started this all natural homeopathic acid reflux
medicine, I've been heartburn free and my reflux
has healed. No nasty acid blockers, not nasty
probes and surgeries. Just a few capsules a day
and off I go.