Heartburn Calgary

What can I do about my Acid Reflux?

What can I do about my Acid Reflux?

 

Acid Reflux, also known commonly as Heartburn, or GERD: Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, is a condition I see often in my NW Calgary Naturopathic Medicine practice.
This is a condition that can come and go, or stay for periods of time, or stay permanently, but if it is something that is recurrent then it must be addressed to minimize the risk of cancer of the esophagus and many other digestive symptoms.

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn is experienced when stomach acid washes back up from the stomach into the esophagus and into the throat. There is a sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach which should close after food enters the stomach. However, certain things can cause this sphincter to open or not full close fully and this is when acid can come back up the esophagus.

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

The symptoms can vary with each patient, but can include a burning sensation in the chest, chest pain, abdominal bloating, burping, regurgitation of food, nausea, or a discomfort in the throat which can include a lump sensation in the throat (this of course can be caused by many other things) or a need to clear the throat. Sometimes there are no symptoms of heartburn. Your dentist may look at the back of your teeth and realize the enamel is being worn by acid.

How can I prevent heartburn?

There are several things you can do to avoid heartburn:
  1. Don’t eat your food fast, and ensure you chew your food thoroughly
  2. Eat smaller meals to ensure you aren’t overeating and are not overwhelming your digestive capacity
  3. Don’t skip meals. When you go too long without eating, your stomach makes less stomach acid, so it takes longer to digest your meal and you can feel bloated. Then what small amounts of acid are there can wash up the esophagus.
  4. Decrease your water intake with meals. Stop drinking water 30 minutes before a meal, and don’t drink a lot of water till at least an hour after your meal. A few sips of water with your meal or to take your supplements is fine, but too much water will dilute your stomach acid and again slow down your digestion.
  5. Allow your body to enter a parasympathetic state before eating. We are all busy and rushing, and in that sympathetic state your stomach is not secreting acid to digest, because it is keeping blood flow for your eyes and arms and legs. Sit down, take 5 big, deep belly breaths, feel yourself calm down, and then start eating. If you cannot destress, eat a lighter meal.
  6. Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. This will ensure your food is fully digested before bedtime so you can lie down and not experience reflux
  7. If you have time, and weather permits, take a walk after dinner. This will help your digestion.
  8. After you eat a big meal, avoid bending over or lying down. Even sitting for long periods after eating can slow your digestion (so as stated above, go for a walk!)
  9. If you do have to eat a meal less than 3 hours before bedtime, eat a lighter meal, lower in fat
  10. Avoid potential trigger foods (these vary between individuals) such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate, tomato, citrus, and spicy food

What happens if I do experience heartburn at night? What can I do in the moment?

There’s a few things you can do to help decrease your symptoms:
  1. Sleep with your upper body inclined, either with 2 or 3 pillows or with a wedge under your pillow
  2. If you must sleep flat, sleep on your left side instead of your right side
  3. Talk to me about specific supplements we can use to treat your reflux

What else can be done to help with heartburn if the above measures aren’t enough?

 

  1. Acupuncture – this can address heart burn directly, but can also address stress and other contributing factors to your heartburn
  2. Bowen Therapy – this could be helpful to relax your muscles and potentially help with hiatal hernia
  3. Food sensitivity testing – this can help us determine if certain foods are causing your heartburn
  4. Supplements to support digestion and healing of the lining of the stomach and esophagus
  5. We can rule out high or low stomach acid (yes, low stomach acid can cause heartburn, because the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus closes when it detects stomach acid. If it is not detected, the sphincter will stay open and what acid is there will come up the esophagus)
  6. Your MD can rule out H.Pylori via a stool test and treat you if it’s positive.
I hope this helps give you lots of information about this common and uncomfortable symptom, as well as some tools to help manage it. Do not hesitate to contact me to book an appointment  if you are still experiencing heartburn even after incorporating these measures, because there are a lot of options to treat it: you do not have to suffer!
Naturopathic Vitality Clinic
205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T3B4Z1
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