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Acid Reflux through the Ages

Reflux Surgery Wasn’t Always an OptionYou can contact your GERD surgeon about reflux surgery now, but what used to be done for reflux relief?

Acid reflux has been a problem for centuries, and there haven’t always been the technologically advanced cures and comprehensive medical treatments that we have today. What would Fred Flintstone have done if he had a bout of heartburn? There was no GERD surgeon offering reflux surgery in Bedrock. What about back in the first century, when cases of heartburn were first being documented?

The Romans started struggling with heartburn during the first century. Pliny the Edler, a famous naturalist of the Roman Era, used “coral powder” to treat heartburn, a type of calcium carbonate that is still used in certain heartburn medications today. Of course, this early medication didn’t offer much relief from the burning pain that was affecting the health of people across the world at this time.

The Greeks took a shot at curing heartburn in the second century and came up with a term for the ailment while writing about its symptoms. Galen, the famed Greek physician, called heartburn “kardialgia,” which means heart pain.

Successful treatment for heartburn wasn’t an option until several decades ago.

As time went on and civilizations continued developing into city-bound cultures, more and more people started experiencing heartburn. Until recently, there wasn’t much more to do about the pain than there was during the first and second century.

Herbal remedies, dietary tricks and lifestyle adjustments have been recommended for hundreds of years, but often to no avail. As you might know from firsthand experience, small adjustments and dietary supplements aren’t always enough to ease the burn. Once the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is damaged, you are in need of specialized medical care to keep stomach acid in its place.

Luckily, you don’t have to cope with the same lack of treatment methods that our ancestors faced. Natural treatments that were used in the past are still around, and often function as great complementary treatments for acid reflux relief. They are not, however, as powerful or useful as reflux surgery, and you shouldn’t try any natural remedy without first discussing the treatment with your GERD surgeon.

People had to make lots of assumptions about how to treat their heartburn in the past, but you don’t need to do that. Be thankful that you live when and where you do. In Dallas and Ft. Worth you have plenty of options for comprehensive heartburn treatment, so there is no reason to suffer through your heartburn any longer.

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Fiber Power for GERD

Ask your GERD surgeon about the benefits of eating a high fiber diet for heartburn relief.

Reflux Surgery and a Healthy Diet for Heartburn Relief

Before undergoing reflux surgery, many GERD sufferers look left and right for dietary options that will help lessen the severity of their heartburn. Unfortunately, most people with frequent heartburn have a longer list of items that worsen their heartburn than they do knowledge of dietary ingredients that might help relieve their pain.

Your GERD surgeon can help you craft a diet that is beneficial for your heartburn symptoms, and you shouldn’t add to or alter that diet unless you’ve discussed the changes with your GERD surgeon first. However, if your diet doesn’t involve eating fiber, then you might want to ask your GERD surgeon if fiber would be a healthy addition to your GERD diet.

What is fiber?

Fiber is also known as roughage. These are the threads or filaments in food that aren’t digestible by gastrointestinal enzymes. When we consume fiber, it pushes through our digestive system without breaking down, absorbing water as it goes and making bowel movements easier.

Fiber is touted as a beneficial dietary supplement for weight loss, diabetes, cancer and even heart disease, but that isn’t all. As fiber moves through the digestive tract without breaking down, it reduces acid production and helps push foods through the digestive tract, reducing the chances of acid reflux occurring later on.

Fiber can be found in many different foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Unfortunately, some of the greatest food sources of fiber are also highly acidic, making them troublesome for those who suffer from frequent acid reflux and heartburn.

GERD sufferers can find fiber from the following dietary sources:

  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Multigrain breads
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peaches

Since eating a high-fiber diet rich in whole grains is also respected as beneficial for weight loss, you might find that following a diet filled with the items above can help alleviate your heartburn by reducing the pressure of excess weight on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Eating a diet high in fiber isn’t going to repair damage that’s already occurred to the LES or esophagus and won’t completely cure gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, when combined with medical tactics and reflux surgery, eating a high fiber diet can be quite beneficial.

Have you found that following a high fiber diet has helped with your heartburn? Share your thoughts, experiences and recipes in a comment below!

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Brewing Relief with Reflux Surgery

As we talk about reflux surgery, try sitting down with a cup of green tea for added heartburn relief.

Brewing Relief with Reflux Surgery

When you are looking for heartburn relief, the last place you might think to look is in a pot of piping hot water, but add to that water a few decaffeinated green tea leaves and you might be surprised. While coffee, soda and even milk are all known to exacerbate heartburn symptoms, decaffeinated green tea can do just the opposite.

Green tea is a low-calorie beverage that has been touted for centuries as a stress reducer. The antioxidants in green tea are respected for aiding with skin care, preventing health disorders and even helping with weight loss. Now, you can add heartburn and acid reflux relief to that list of green tea’s benefits.

As your GERD surgeon will tell you, simple changes like adding tea to your diet aren’t going to give the same effect as reflux surgery. However, small lifestyle changes like drinking more tea can sometimes be helpful to alleviate heartburn, especially when these changes complement more comprehensive treatment.

How does tea help with acid reflux?

There are a few different theories behind why green tea specifically is useful for preventing and reducing heartburn and acid reflux. To start, drinking green tea generally means you are not drinking something else that could be worsening your reflux problem. By simply introducing green tea to your diet, you can cut out other items, which can make a big impact on your heartburn frequency. Of course, you wouldn’t need to drink green tea for this benefit. Switching to water would also be a great way to reduce your consumption of soda, coffee and other problematic drinks.

Green tea has a high concentration of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. This is an amino acid that interacts with the nervous system and is proven to help alleviate heartburn. Green tea has also been recognized as a digestive aid. Many people find that drinking a cup of green tea after dinner helps prevent acid reflux thanks to the high concentration of the antioxidant polyphenol, which is said to make digestion easier.

However, it should be noted that it could be the act of drinking green tea and refraining from further food consumption that helps with reflux relief, not just the properties of the tea.

There are plenty of varieties of green tea, making it likely that there is one for just about everyone. If you’ve never tried green tea before, look for boxes of tea in the coffee aisle at your grocery store. You can usually purchase a variety pack that will give you the chance to try a few blends of green tea before committing to one flavor.

Before you make any changes to your diet plan, it is always smart to talk with your GERD surgeon. Green tea isn’t a remedy for heartburn, so it won’t replace medical treatment of reflux surgery. However, if you are looking for more dietary changes that will help relieve heartburn, then you might benefit from sipping on a cup of green tea.

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Trick Your Acid Reflux or Treat It!

Reflux Surgery To Avoid Heartburn this HalloweenAfter getting reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth, you can look forward to enjoying simple treats again—isn’t that a great trick?

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it will be thousands of children and young-at-heart adults dressed up in their best costumes and knocking on your door for a scrumptious treat.

Before you get reflux surgery, you might dread this fun-filled holiday. For many families, Halloween is what kick starts the holiday season. It starts with bite-sized chocolate bars and ends with tin after tin of sugar cookies. The rest of this year might prove stressful as the excess food, chocolate and fatty treats exacerbate heartburn–and it all starts with one night in October.

Don’t spend another Halloween hiding from the candy bowl! Ask your GERD surgeon about reflux surgery options that will help you finally overcome your heartburn.

Even after reflux surgery, chocolaty treats aren’t the healthiest foods to indulge in. A few small bites of chocolate in moderation are often okay, but those bite-sized goodies can add up quickly. As you well know, eating too much can spell heartburn if you aren’t careful—excess weight on the abdomen adds pressure to the stomach and can disturb the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) from doing its job correctly.

Chocolate is known as a heartburn trigger food, and unfortunately the reason it often leads to acid reflux is the same reason we crave the treat so much. Chocolate acts as a mild antidepressant. When we are stressed, sad or even feeling bored, chocolate has the ability to perk us up and help us feel better—even if only for a brief moment. This same antidepressant can cause the LES to relax, thus permitting stomach acids to backwash into the esophagus.

For those who already have a damaged LES, just a few bites chocolate can make the difference between an okay evening and night filled with heartburn and acid reflux. In those who have a healthy LES, or have undergone reflux surgery to have their LES repaired, a few bites of chocolate don’t come with such drastic consequences.

If you are awaiting reflux surgery, your GERD surgeon might recommend that you stay away from chocolate to avoid serious heartburn trouble. This Halloween, try filling your house with treats that won’t trouble your heartburn, like gummy bears, Twizzlers and candy corn.

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The Power of Posture: Straighten Out to Beat GERD

Beat GERD with good posture and reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. WorthIf you’ve recently had reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth, you’ve probably struggled with GERD for a long time. Many people suffer from serious GERD symptoms for years before seeking a long-term solution like reflux surgery, choosing instead to find symptomatic relief by correcting poor habits and eliminating potentially problematic foods.

While it’s very true that lifestyle factors like diet, stress, excess weight and the use of alcohol and tobacco can all be huge contributors to GERD, there is one other factor that many reflux sufferers may not consider– their posture. Slouching can put extra pressure on your stomach and keep the esophagus at an improper angle. This lack of a straight path between the stomach and esophagus can cause your esophageal muscles to spasm, blocking in gas and acid and causing coughing, chest pain and all the other unpleasant symptoms of GERD you know so well.

Poor posture may not be the root cause of your GERD—and correcting it should not be viewed as an alternative to treatments like reflux surgery—but keeping a proper posture can help many GERD sufferers reduce their symptoms.

Here’s why bad posture can have such a huge effect on GERD:

  • When you’re sitting slouched, your head, shoulders and chest can weigh heavily on your abdomen. The extra pressure can force stomach contents up into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), while not having a straight esophagus makes it difficult to release gas by burping.
  • When you’re standing slouched, poor posture can cause your esophagus to twist. As gas builds up with no way to be released through the mouth, the pressure in your abdomen will increase, causing reflux symptoms.

Stand Tall, Sit Tall, Beat GERD

If your mother or 3rd grade teacher constantly nagged you to sit up straight, you may be starting to realize what a big favor they were trying to do you. Many of us slouch without realizing it. We spend hours slumped in front of a computer at work only to go home and slouch in front of the TV some more. Whether you’re sitting, standing or sleeping, it’s best to try to stay as straight as possible to create an easy passage between the esophagus and stomach.

Unfortunately, as is evidenced by nagging mothers and 3rd grade teachers everywhere, it isn’t always easy to maintain the proper posture. Even if you set out to stay plank-straight all day, you may inevitably lapse into a lounge when your attention shifts to something else.

Though consulting a physical therapist or chiropractor may help you improve your posture, the most effective way to start sitting straighter is to exercise. By strengthening the muscles that control your posture, you’ll find yourself effortlessly standing and sitting straighter. Just about any exercise from ballroom dancing to sit-ups will help, but remember–to avoid exacerbating symptoms, you should speak with your GERD surgeon before jumping into a new workout.

How else can we improve our posture and beat GERD? Share your tips, experiences and questions with us in the comments below.

 

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The Dairy Dilemma: Quitting Milk for GERD

Beat GERD by quitting dairy or getting reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. WorthThough approximately 20 percent of Americans suffer from GERD, every case is different. What prompts your symptoms might not aggravate someone else’s heartburn. Reflux surgery is a crucial treatment for some GERD sufferers in Dallas & Ft. Worth, but others will benefit from smaller dietary adjustments to start experiencing some symptomatic relief.

If you’re considering reflux surgery, you’ve likely spoken to your GERD surgeon about the many different foods that can prompt an attack, like spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, carbonation, peppermint, etc. But if eliminating those has not helped, you may be overlooking one frequent contributor to GERD, something that often lurks unhindered in many corners of our fridges: dairy.

The Dairy-GERD Connection

Milk and dairy products like cheese give our diets the highest levels of saturated fat, which has long been known to contribute to GERD. Though we’ve been told for time immemorial that drinking milk can help us build strong bones, new evidence has started to make this presumption less accurate—it just so happens that calcium is not nearly as important for your bone health as vitamin D (which you can also get from sunlight) and a good old-fashioned daily exercise routine. Interestingly enough, the rate of fractured bones is actually highest in countries where the most milk is consumed.

Many experts now believe that mankind’s need for milk ends when we are weaned in infancy, citing the spread of lactose intolerance (which affects about 50 million Americans) as an example of an evolutionary shift away from needing animal milk.

If you’ve suffered from chronic heartburn, eliminating or reducing the dairy you consume may be a big help. Unlike the lifelong Tums or PPI habits adopted by many GERD sufferers, quitting dairy is free to try and sometimes results in a quick resolution of reflux symptoms.

Of course, you don’t have to go vegan to experience the help that cutting down on dairy can provide. Simply switching to low or no-fat dairy products can significantly lower the amount of saturated fat you consume, providing a drastic difference in your GERD symptoms. Though you don’t have to avoid meat, you may also find it valuable to stick with the leanest possible cuts, steering clear of fatty proteins like beef.

Though reflux surgery is the only reliable way to rid yourself of chronic GERD, eliminating dairy has helped many reflux sufferers escape the discomfort of their symptoms. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to manage GERD with other dietary adjustments, talk to your GERD surgeon about cutting down on dairy products—the difference you experience may surprise you.

Has cutting down on dairy products or other saturated fats helped you beat GERD in Dallas or Ft. Worth? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

 

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That’s No Allergy

Many people find themselves avoiding foods thanks to a misdiagnosed food allergy, when they could find relief from heartburn and acid reflux with transoral surgery in Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Acid reflux isn't always from a food allergy--you may need transoral surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth

It’s estimated that about 50 percent of self-reported food allergies are incorrect. Food allergies are a complicated business, and they can take a long time to properly diagnose. Unfortunately, people who attribute certain symptoms to a food and begin eliminating foods out of fear of an allergy might be skirting around a greater health concern, like gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Acid reflux, heartburn and general indigestion are common ailments reported among those claiming to be allergic to one food or another. However, these symptoms also can develop as a result of a medical condition, and are not always attributable to a dietary problem. While heartburn and acid reflux often develop among obese individuals and commonly affect people after they eat spicy foods or oversized meals, the symptoms can also affect healthy people when they’ve eaten nothing out of the ordinary. As we discussed in a previous blog post, reflux symptoms can even affect Olympic athletes.

Many people incorrectly attribute their heartburn and acid reflux to food allergies. While it makes sense to avoid foods that incite particularly bad bouts of heartburn, experiencing that type of reaction to those foods isn’t typical of a food allergy.

Common symptoms of a food allergy include:

  • Hives
  • Itchy skin, rash or eczema
  • Swelling around the face or tongue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea, vomiting or nausea
  • Fainting, dizziness or feeling lightheaded

The harm in misdiagnosing a food allergy is that your symptoms could be indicating a larger problem, and your assumption that the issue is a food allergy could be delaying pertinent treatment. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, making dietary adjustments will often help reduce the amount of acid reflux and heartburn you experience. Small lifestyle changes like this, however, will not completely eradicate your symptoms or resolve the issue. When GERD is the problem, the only true solution is reflux surgery to repair the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). No amount of dietary elimination will repair the LES for you.

There are plenty of people who do have legitimate food allergies, but that doesn’t mean your problems are the result of one. If you think you have a food allergy, then see a doctor. There are numerous tests that can determine if the problem you are experiencing is from dietary causes or is the result of something else.

 

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Just Breathe Acid Reflux Away

Breathing exercises can provide relief from acid reflux and heartburn, especially when coupled with transoral surgery in Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Treat heartburn with transoral surgery and a deep breath

Have you ever been told to take a deep breath after a stressful situation? It’s kind of strange advice, isn’t it? After all, were you really going to forget to breathe? Well, when it comes to finding acid reflux relief the question might not be forgetting to breathe as much as how you are breathing.

A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that breathing exercises are beneficial as a complementary treatment to reflux surgery. The focus of this study wasn’t on breathing in the nose and out the mouth, as so many deep breathing exercises are. Instead, participants were asked to focus on their abdomen as they did deep belly-breathing exercises to reduce the prevalence of GERD.

Researchers were interested in how deep breathing exercises might impact the health of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscular valve that prevents stomach acid from entering the esophagus. When the LES is impaired, digestive juices can flow freely into the esophagus, irritating the esophageal lining and causing irritation. Researchers were curious if diaphragmatic contractions during deep breathing exercises could impact or even benefit the LES, thus reducing acid reflux.

It’s Time to Take a Breath

We are all breathing, but sometimes we don’t breathe as deeply or fully as we should. Deep breathing exercises increase your awareness of how you are breathing and will encourage you to take fuller breaths regularly.

To try a deep breathing exercise, lie on your back and gently place your hands on your stomach. As you inhale, feel the air enter your stomach as it expands beneath your hands. Continue inhaling as long as you can and hold your breath briefly before exhaling completely. You might notice your chest moving up and down as you breathe, but do your best to push all of your air into your stomach. This is a form of diaphragmatic breathing, and it is the type of breathing that researchers say can potentially improve your heartburn symptoms.

In the study at Medical University Graz in Austria, a small sample of participants were given hour-long instruction on how to do deep breathing exercises like the one above, and were asked to continue those exercises regularly. After four weeks, those who participated in the breathing exercises experienced a 9.1 percent decrease in the prevalence of their acid reflux, while those who did not do the deep breathing exercises only experienced a 4.7 percent decrease.

Breathing exercises aren’t meant to replace GERD treatments like reflux surgery, but might complement an existing acid reflux treatment program. Those who did the breathing exercises reported an increased quality of life after four weeks, and after nine months of doing the exercises participants reported even further improvement in both their quality of life and health.

You are already breathing! Why not give a deep breathing exercise a try to see if it impacts your GERD symptoms? If you do, let us know how it goes in a comment below!

 

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Going Herbal for Reflux Relief

Use herbal remedies or reflux surgery to resolve heartburn in Dallas & Ft. WorthLong before pharmaceutical companies began patenting medicines and our reflux surgery knowledge progressed to the minimally invasive surgery and transoral surgical techniques we now rely on, people with acid reflux turned to herbal supplements to ease their pain. For thousands of years, herbal supplements were regarded as medicines and were used to treat everything, including the common cold, war wounds and of course heartburn.

As years have passed we’ve come to understand how acid reflux develops, why certain medications work better than others and why reflux surgery is often the only solution for those with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With this knowledge comes insight as to why the herbal supplements of the past aren’t relied upon any more, but the fact that they once were so crucial to medical science gives a lot of people hope that these herbs can bring added relief to their burning esophagus now.

GERD is often caused by a dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve separating the base of the esophagus from the stomach. When the LES works properly, the valve opens to allow swallowed food to pass safely to the stomach, then closes abruptly. When the LES becomes damaged or weakened it might not close correctly, allowing digestive juices from the stomach to backwash out of the valve and irritate the esophagus. When a problem with the LES develops reflux surgery is the only solution, though current means of transoral surgery in Dallas and Ft. Worth make the procedure much less invasive.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an herbal supplement that will correct a dysfunctional LES. However, there is a reason these supplements were used for so many years. Certain herbs and spices have ingredients in them that can calm the stomach, provide mild anti-inflammatory benefits and even ease pain.

Herbal supplements aren’t going to cure your heartburn, but they might enhance your existing treatment plan. Here are a few ‘herbs of old’ with heartburn relief potential:

  • Barberry: This is a shrub with alkaloids that are supposed to boost immune function. Barberry extracts are also said to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Devil’s Claw: This herb is highly respected as a complementary treatment for acid reflux, as it is known to ease the stomach and lessen acidity.
  • Chamomile: A favorite tea for easing common colds and flu, chamomile is also used to treat abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, nausea and heartburn.
  • Aloe Vera: You might use aloe vera to ease sunburn, so maybe it won’t come as a surprise that the herb can sooth heartburn and treat ulcers.

Other common herbs and supplements used to treat acid reflux include bromelain (which is present in pineapples), artichokes and probiotic supplements, like those found in yogurts. Don’t add any of these supplements to your diet without first talking to your GERD surgeon.

 

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Prevent GERD & Get a Raise by Getting Fit

What do your paycheck and GERD have in common? They might both benefit from a bit of exercise.

Prevent GERD in Dallas or Ft. Worth & get a raise by getting fit

Forget pumping iron: you might be pumping for more green. At least, that’s what one study from Cleveland State University found. People who exercise at least three times a week make about 10 percent more than those who are inactive. This was true regardless of other health factors, even BMI, so being in definably “good shape” wasn’t the cause of the salary boost.

Exercise is a tricky business when you have GERD. You know that exercise helps you lose weight, which reduces the amount of pressure on your stomach and lower esophageal sphincter (LES). However, going for a vigorous run or doing an activity like push-ups can sometimes trigger acid reflux. When you are suffering from GERD it is sometimes hard to figure out what your best move is—even when you are mentally prepared to get out and be active.

Surgical techniques like Nissen fundoplication can repair damage to the LES, making it possible for GERD sufferers to work out without the interference of heartburn, but until then there are plenty of ways you can work out without aggravating GERD.

The Cleveland State University study found that the salary benefits of being more active came when participants engaged in moderate activity at least three days out of the week. Numerous studies about exercise-induced heartburn found that moderate activity doesn’t affect GERD as much as vigorous activities like running. That means walking, biking and swimming are all realistic options for people with GERD, even before getting corrective treatment like nissen fundoplication.

But why is there a salary boost connected to exercise levels, you ask? Past studies have linked regular exercise with increased intelligence, as well as a more positive attitude and heightened energy levels—all factors that can increase your performance, productivity and likability in the workplace. Working out regularly can make you feel better, which can make you work better, and that may lead to a boost in your pay check.

If finding relief from heartburn wasn’t enough of a reason to get active and lose weight, then maybe the potential of landing a promotion or getting a better position will be the motivation you need to get moving. On average, the amount of income differentiated between those who worked out regularly and those who were sedentary was only about $80 a week, but that adds up to several thousand dollars every year.

Between the health effects of exercising and losing weight for your heartburn and acid reflux, the mental benefits like improved alertness and clarity of mind, and the apparent financial benefits of working out regularly, you might be hard pressed to find an excuse to skip your next workout.

 

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