heart with face breathing fire

Rethinking heartburn, GERD, night coughing, or acid reflux by Dr. Shawna Eischens

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Call it heartburn, GERD, night coughing, or acid reflux, but likely it is a painful annoyance. The good news is you don’t have to live with this issue, AND you don’t have to take medication for life!

The stomach is designed to be an acidic environment to facilitate the break down of food. This acidic pH can be altered by factors such as an overgrowth of H. pylori bacteria, stress, and food sensitivities. Since acid is required for proper digestion, it’s not the acid that’s the problem, but the lack of tone at the junction of the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter) that allows even small amounts of acid to sneak back up into the esophagus.
How does this esophageal sphincter function decrease? Ironically LOW stomach acid can prevent the body’s natural response to close the sphincter when food is introduced into the stomach. Overeating, hiatal hernias, certain drugs, and alcohol, coffee, or food sensitivities may all contribute to a decrease of tone as well.
PPI’s or proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec and Prevacid are well known drugs that block acid production of the stomach. If you’re dealing with the reflux of acid, shutting down the acid production may sound promising until you step back and look at the overall digestive process.
Low stomach acid and low esophageal sphincter tone may contribute to heartburn as acid is allowed to travel back up into the esophagus. Proton pump inhibitors simply decrease the body’s natural and beneficial acid production, which in turn affects overall digestion and calcium and B12 absorption, leading to various issues including osteoporosis.
Our bodies are designed to be in balance and function optimally by listening to and addressing areas of dysfunction. Addressing the cause of reflux symptoms varies, but may be as simple as a hiatal hernia adjustment (pulling the stomach back down from migrating up through the diaphragm), increasing stomach acid and enzymes if needed, killing off h pylori overgrowth, avoiding food sensitivities or healing the gut in various ways.
You don’t have to settle for living with reflux. Dr. Eischens can guide you towards healing to eliminate symptoms while improving digestion and overall health.

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