Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cure Acid Reflux In a Day

The use of medications to treat acid reflux and heartburn, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), has become commonplace in our society.  As stated over at the Healthy Skeptic drug companies make more than $7 billion a year selling medications to treat these symptoms.  I'm going to talk about my history of GERD and the simple change I made that cured it.

When I was younger, I used to get acid reflux from time to time.  I didn't know what it was or why it was happening at the time.  I never watched or cared what I ate and I never gained an ounce so it seemed to not matter.  One instance that comes to mind was the days of the "carb-ups" the night before the big game.  I remember how I felt even more hungry a couple hours after eating a ton of pasta.  Well at that time, I was mistaking hunger for acid reflux.  This went on throughout my days in high school but it wasn't until I became an adult that I knew what it was that was causing this excess hunger.

In my 20s, whenever I'd have problems with acid, I never thought much of it.  Popping a Rolaids or a Tums would make the symptoms eventually subside.  Some days I'd eat 2-3 Tums in a sitting if the acid was particularly severe.  There were some rough nights here and there where I'd wake up with a bad burning sensation and have acid come up my throat and run to the restroom for what could have ensued.  It was extremely uncomfortable.  Never really gave it much thought though as I continued eating anything in sight and not really connecting the dots.  Looking back on it I remember pizzas, tomato sauces, pop-tarts, french fries and any variety of fast food would trigger the acid.

Around the time that I turned 30, I began to develop a persistent cough.  Days lead to weeks and weeks into months with this cough until I finally convinced my lazy self to do something about it.  So I went to the doctor and they were alarmed by the description I gave them. So a scope of my throat was scheduled with another doctor.  They said it could be anything, including cancer, but they aren't sure until they take a closer look..  Of course it isn't ever comfortable to hear the "C" word so it made me a little nervous.

So the day of my scope came.  The doctor went up my nose and down my throat.  Within seconds he said I have slight damage to my esophagus due to acid reflux.  At that same appointment he wrote a script for Nexium and told me to stay on it for a period of 6 months.  He said he sees it all the time and I'll be better in no time.  I thanked him and began the regimen.   After a couple of weeks, the coughing began to subside and my acid was neutralized.  I went on to take it for an additional 6 months after a follow visit where the doctor wrote up another script without batting an eyelash.  I also told him at the time about some sleep problems I was having and he wrote a script for Ambien without hesitation (that's a story for another day).  During these 6 months I put on an additional 20 pounds of fat.  Almost as if Nexium gave me a free pass to eat whatever I wanted to because it wouldn't effect my stomach.  Nexium was very pricey and on the advice of others I dropped down to over the counter solutions like Pepsid and Prilosec.  These seemed to work as I continued my habits of haphazard eating.

I finally told myself enough is enough and decided to consider what it was that caused what turned into an addiction to antacid medications. I came across an article stating how individuals have success with their GERD problems when on a paleo diet.  Also around this time I met Chuck P. who turned me on to this lifestyle as well for many other reasons.  It's always nice to know someone that can speak from experience on the success of things.  So I began to give it a try.  I observed an instant change in my acid reflux.  Prior to starting, I always kept a bottle of generic Tums by my bedside.  I noticed one day that it was practically full and I realized that something was happening.  Paleo diet habits were allowing me to no longer depend on these antacids.  I no longer am a slave to these medications I can proudly say.  My stomach and wallet thank me too.

Nowadays there are times I do go off the reservation.  I'll go to Dairy Queen with the family or a cookout and eat whatever.  The acid comes back almost right away.  It will extend into the following day where I go back to my Paleo habits.  By mid-day my symptoms are pretty much gone.

I now look at acid reflux as your body's way of telling you "don't eat that".  It just doesn't seem right for a person to even have acid reflux if you think about it.  Popping an antacid is just covering up something your body is telling you not to do.



Chuck said...

So the drugs were a temporary relief to the problem but a diet change was a permanent solution. I wonder why the doctors didn't recommend a diet change from day one?

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