Got Milk? How to Treat Acid Reflux
What do you think of when faced with an attack of acid reflux? Aï¿½Do you grab the Tums, guzzle some milk or pop a pill? Aï¿½You may actually be doing more harm than good. Aï¿½That doesn’t mean you have to suffer, but you should educate yourself as to what will work in your situation and what might not.
Reaching for the antacid bottle may not help you under all conditions, and overuse of them could cause some serious problems. Aï¿½Antacids have one purpose; they neutralize the acid currently in your stomach. Aï¿½That doesn’t stop it from doing damage to your esophagus while you’re waiting for it to work. Aï¿½At best, it should be a temporary solution while you choose a more comprehensive treatment.
You’re on the right track if you head for the dairy department, but you will have to choose with some care. Aï¿½Whole milk and dairy products made with it will actually make the acid worse. Aï¿½Low fat, or even better, fat free products can be used successfully.
In some cases, a medication designed to prevent the formation of excess stomach acid may be beneficial. Aï¿½However, if you can find another method it would be healthier. Aï¿½The FDA has recently stated that taking these medications could weaken your bones and lead to unnecessary fractures.
So, what should you do about this problem? Aï¿½After all, it is known to do some serious damage to your esophagus and your lungs. Aï¿½
First, you should know a little bit about this part of your digestive tract. Aï¿½There is a small flap, called a sphincter, that separates your stomach from the esophagus. Aï¿½When you swallow, it opens enough to let the food or drink pass in, then it closes tightly so that nothing comes back out. Aï¿½If, for some reason, this flap doesn’t close or it gaps, then both food and acid can get out and start doing damage.
The reason the acid doesn’t damage your stomach (most of the time) is that it has a special lining. Aï¿½The same is not true of the esophagus. Aï¿½Every time acid comes out, it causes physical burns to the delicate tissue that can lead to scarring and eventually cause cancer to develop.
Many things can cause this flap not to close properly. Aï¿½Overeating is one. Aï¿½When the stomach is too full, it has to go somewhere. Aï¿½Being overweight is another possible cause. Aï¿½Laying down to soon after a meal may allow the problem to develop. Aï¿½Even what you choose to eat or drink plays a role. Aï¿½It may be a good idea to check with your doctor to find out your individual cause, as it could decide exactly how it’s treated.
Watching what you eat and when you eat it is one way to prevent the problem. Aï¿½Your doctor will give you a list of trigger foods to avoid, but basically they will be in the following categories: High fat, highly processed, high sugar and alcohol are problems. Aï¿½Caffeine, mint and citrus products could also be a trigger.
There are a few herbs that could be beneficial while you are learning to control acid reflux with your diet. Aï¿½Licorice and marshmallow root can both coat your whole digestive tract, easing the pain and preventing more burns. Aï¿½Licorice is best, but it has more side effects and interactions than marshmallow. Aï¿½Diabetics should stick to DGL, a product that has the sugar in the root removed. Aï¿½If you have high blood pressure, you’ll need to avoid it altogether.
When you see your doctor for this problem, make sure you mention any other medical conditions you may have. Aï¿½Give the doctor a complete list of all medications and supplements. Aï¿½This will help prevent side effects and herb/drug interactions such as the one I mentioned with licorice.