Acid Reflux is a Lingering Problem


Heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) are all essentially the same thing.  There are digestive fluids leaking from the stomach back into the esophagus causing pain, swelling and irritation that damage the mucus lining of the esophagus.

According to Google Health and WebMD the symptoms are as follows:

Feeling that food may be left trapped behind the breastbone; Heartburn or Chest Pain (under the breastbone) that is increased by bending, stooping, lying down, or eating, more likely or worse at night & relieved by antacids; Nausea after eating; Cough or wheezing; Difficulty swallowing; Hiccups; Hoarseness or change in voice; Regurgitation of food and Sore throat.

The first treatment that is often recommended is a change in diet.  Less spicy foods, lower salt, avoiding acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits as well as avoiding caffeinated and carbonated drinks and chocolate.  I know I’m thinking “Wow, no chocolate?  What’s the point of living?”

Besides recommendations of diet change there are also lifestyle changes that the Mayo Clinic offers;

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Don’t lie down after a meal. Wait at least two to three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed.
  • Elevate the head of your bed. An elevation of about six to nine inches puts gravity to work for you. Placing wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed at the head end. If it’s not possible to elevate your bed, you can insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly.

There are many medications sold over the counter for acid reflux that include antacids, suspensions like Pepto & Caraphate, H2 receptor blockers like Zantac are all sold over the counter.  Your MD may suggest protein pump inhibitors is your problem frequent and prescribe something like Prilosec or Nexium.  None of these really cure the problem but will temporarily alleviate the symptoms.

From a chiropractic perspective, the problem is not too much acid but a dysfunction of the stomach and cardiac sphincter (the “gate” between the stomach and the esophagus).  There can be a subluxation that disrupts the function of the nerve that supplies the diaphragm or the esophagus.  Correction of this subluxation will restore the nerve function to normal and reduce or eliminate the acid reflux.

The last thing I want to leave you with is an exercise to try if the problem is that you have a hiatal hernia causing your acid reflux.  A hiatal hernia is when the top portion of the stomach pushes through the hole in the diaphragm where the esophagus normally comes through.  I found this through a patient of mine that showed me an article from Dr. David Williams (thank you Eliot).  Below is the exercise to perform and it is so simple you’ll be amazed at how well it can work.

So here is the exercise:  You must drink about a glass of either room temperature or slightly warm water when      you get out of bed first thing in the morning (No coffee, no tea, no juice, no cold water—just warm water).  While standing, bring your arms straight out from your sides and bend your elbows so your hands are touching your chest. Then stand up on your toes as high as possible and drop. You should get a pretty good jolt. Drop down like this 10 times in a row. Then, while standing with your arms up, pant short quick breaths for about 15 seconds.  That’s it.

The warm water acts like a weight in the stomach. Being warm, it doesn’t cause the stomach to cramp. Instead, it relaxes it. Spreading your arms stretches the diaphragm and opens up that hole in the back. Dropping down on your heels jerks the stomach out of the hole and the panting tightens up the diaphragm muscle to close the hole.  If you have a hiatal hernia, you need to do this exercise every day—not just until everything feels normal. It will also strengthen the area, and make the hiatal hernia less likely to come back.

Please let me know what you think about this article.  I would love to hear about your experiences.

Vilkelis Chiropractic
200 West 57th Street, Suite 1010 New YorkNY10019 USA 
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