Acid Reflux is a major issue in many countries these days. About 50% of the population of Western countries is affected, with 10-20% suffering symptoms at least once a week. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or GORD is a more severe form of reflux. GORD especially is not a benign condition. Scarring, constriction, ulceration and even cancer of the oesophagus can result. At Advance Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic, Hertford we view the health of your gut as a crucial factor in your overall health and wellbeing. Our acupuncture, dietary and lifestyle recommendations are instrumental in helping patients find symptomatic relief, including with acid reflux and GORD. Your gut health goes to every part of your body, physical, mental and emotional. Get in touch with us today and start to feel the benefits of optimal gut health.
Acid Reflux and GORD: Scourges of Our Times
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid and other stomach contents migrate upward through the sphincter that separates the lower part of the gullet (oesophagus) and the upper part of the stomach. Normally the sphincter should allow food to pass from the gullet to the stomach, but with acid reflux food and stomach acid move in the opposite direction.
Chances are you know someone, perhaps a family member or friend, who at one time or another has experienced the searing sensation behind the breast bone that’s part and parcel of acid reflux and its more severe counterpart gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or GORD. In fact, you may be a frequent sufferer yourself.
None of this is a surprise, given how common gut disorders are nowadays. 50% of the population experience reflux symptoms at some point, some 10-20% experiencing them at least once a week. It’s a veritable epidemic. And, our way of life with it’s stresses and strains and poor dietary habits is no help. We’ll look at how we can put this right a little later on.
What Are The Symptoms of Acid Reflux and GORD?
With acid reflux, you could potentially experience one or more of the following:
- Heartburn or a burning sensation behind the breastbone, which may travel up as far as the throat if more severe.
- Hoarseness and sore throat.
- A feeling of a lump or food stuck in the throat.
- Wheezing and other asthma type symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath.
- Dental pain and symptoms.
- Bad breath.
- IBS type symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating.
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the patient and the specific episode. When especially severe, the condition can produce intense chest pain, leading some sufferers to think they are experiencing a heart attack.
Pregnant women, smokers, heavy drinkers and overweight or obese people are more likely to suffer reflux and heartburn on a regular basis. People with hiatus hernia are also at greater risk of reflux. Finally, certain medications, such as anti-inflammatories, diazepam and calcium channel blockers can also make reflux symptoms worse.
Conventional Medical Assessment and Treatment for Acid Reflux and GORD
If symptoms are milder, a diagnosis of acid reflux or GERD may simply be made on the basis of symptoms alone. More severe symptoms, or those which are unusual or which do not respond to treatment, may necessitate further investigation, for example, gastroscopy.
Stomach acid-suppressing drugs are the mainstay of the conventional treatment approach. These include over-the-counter alkaline liquid medications called antacids. They also include more powerful, prescribed medications. Into this category fall histamine (H2) receptor blockers, such as ranitidine and cimetidine. Proton pump inhibitors or PPI medications such as omeprazole and lansoprasole are also commonly prescribed. All of these drugs can potentially cause problems, especially if taken long term. Let’s discuss why now.
The Causes of Acid Reflux and GORD: Some Recent Ideas
It’s a commonplace remark that excess stomach acid is responsible for causing reflux symptoms. However, most people with reflux when actually tested register low stomach acid. Over 90% of people in fact. Moreover, although stomach acid levels commonly decline with age, the incidence of reflux and GORD actually rise. This would not be expected if excess stomach acid was indeed the culprit in reflux disease.
The underlying issue with reflux appears therefore not to relate to excess stomach acid. Rather, dysfunction of the sphincter linking the oesophagus and stomach appears to be the problem. Even small amounts of acid leaking into the lower part of the oesophagus are going to cause problems.
What might cause the sphincter to fail? One current explanation posits that low stomach acid firstly, allows gut bacteria to overgrow, and secondly, permits improper digestion of food carbohydrates and proteins to take place. Further down the digestive tract this leads to increased production of gas and it’s the additional pressure this creates that causes stomach acid to reflux through the sphincter into the lower part of the oesophagus.
If the above view is correct, use of stomach-acid blocking drugs such as antacids and omeprazole would worsen the condition of low stomach acid, even if symptoms were temporarily reduced. And, it’s important to note that stomach acid performs a variety of vital roles, including protecting against infection and bacterial overgrowth, stimulating breakdown of food proteins and facilitating absorption of key nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, iron, calcium and folate. In fact, studies have shown that PPI medications significantly reduce the absorption of both B12 and zinc. Moreover, there appears to be a definite association between low stomach acid and iron-deficiency anaemia.
Far from curing reflux and GORD, it may be that stomach acid-suppressing medications simply represent a ‘sticking plaster’ solution that temporarily relieves the symptoms of reflux only. Additionally, it may be that the long term problems acid-suppressing drugs may create necessitates an alternative approach.
How Advance Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic, Hertford Can Help Make Mealtimes Pleasant Again
Acid reflux and GORD can be extremely debilitating. Reflux can ruin that meal with friends or that nice evening out. The pain and discomfort can be excruciating.
If you decide to see us at Advance Clinic, Hertford, rest assured there are plenty of ways in which we can help. The following are key to our approach to reflux disease:
- Specific dietary advice – to remove reflux food triggers and optimise your gut function
- Nutritional supplementation, including probiotic and herbal therapy advice
- Relaxation techniques advice – especially useful where stress is a trigger for you
- Lifestyle advice – promoting proper sleep, moderate but effective exercise and mental relaxation, all of which can help reduce the symptoms of heartburn and reflux
We combine therapy in a way which is most likely to be effective in reducing your reflux symptoms.
The approach we adopt at Advance Clinic is also designed promote better overall digestive and gut function. Gut function impacts so many aspects of our lives. For example, 75% of our immune system resides in our gut, helping to keep us healthy and free from disease. Likewise, most of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin we produce is produced in the gut. You can perhaps see why we want to help improve your gut function.
Our acupuncture therapy is there to reinforce our dietary, nutritional and lifestyle advice. It can potentially help your reflux symptoms in the following ways:
- By helping to regulate the movement of food through your digestive tract
- By helping reduce the mental-emotional effects of reflux i.e., anxiety, low mood or stress
Your Hertford acupuncture practitioner is dedicated to helping you feel well again. Why not get in touch and make mealtimes less stressful.
Ready to banish pain and other symptoms? Ready to get active again?
Let us help you experience all round health, all year round! For quality advice and safe, effective treatment,
Call Advance Clinic Now:01992-535970