With common conditions like heartburn and GERD, it doesn’t take long before Ft. Worth is filled with rumors and old wives’ tales about treatment options and causes. Once enough people are coping with a condition, myths about causes and treatments develop overnight. Know this: once your lower esophageal sphincter becomes dysfunctional, the only successful treatment for GERD is surgical intervention like Nissen fundoplication.
Some myths about heartburn lead people to believe that the pain is no big deal and there is nothing you can do about it, while others lead people to try absurd home remedies that can end up making the pain worse.
Here are a few of the most common heartburn myths we’ve heard from around Dallas and Ft. Worth.
- Heartburn relief is an antacid away: A lot of people believe that no matter how severe or frequent their heartburn is they can find relief through antacids—lots of antacids. This leads people to start popping antacids like Tic Tacs, ultimately introducing the at-first seldom use of medication as a regular part of their diet. If you are experiencing frequent heartburn then you are most likely in need of more comprehensive treatment.
- Heartburn is only caused by a poor diet: While it is true that certain acidic foods aggravate heartburn, chronic heartburn is often a result of a damaged lower esophageal sphincter. If the LES doesn’t close properly then acid is able to escape from the stomach and aggravate the esophageal lining—leading to heartburn and acid reflux.
- Heartburn is annoying, but not medically serious: The occasional bout of heartburn might not be indicative of a more serious concern, but a damaged LES and regular heartburn can cause damage to the esophageal lining. While severe health consequences from heartburn are rare, developing conditions like Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer are not out of the realm of possibility as a result of untreated chronic heartburn and acid reflux.
- The only cure to nighttime heartburn is to sleep sitting up: There are plenty of ways you can manage to get a good night’s sleep with nighttime heartburn, and you don’t need to sit erect all night in order to do so. Putting a few extra pillows under your head at night to keep you slightly elevated often helps, as does slightly lifting the top of your bed. Avoiding large meals at night and after dinner snacks are also generally helpful in avoiding nighttime heartburn.
Approximately 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn, and a large percentage of those people are pursuing treatment with their acid reflux specialist so they don’t need to cope with the irritating symptoms day and night. Treating your heartburn can provide you with a better night’s sleep, the ability to enjoy a healthier diet and a more active lifestyle without the interference of heartburn.