I don’t know what it feels like to you but it used to be that the holiday season started at Thanksgiving and now it seems they start at Halloween. And, every year around the holidays I get letters on the causes and fixes for heartburn and acid reflux so I figured I would “pre-empt” this season with a discussion we had a few years ago.
You know the signs: you just finished eating and now you’re back on the road. Pretty good meal you had there. But soon you’re feeling a little pressure in your stomach, you burp and suddenly this burning sensation is in your throat and you’re experiencing a little acid taste in your mouth.
You, my friend, have just had a bout with heartburn. It’s not the first time, so you reach for those antacids to help ease the pain. You are not alone. Approximately 65 million people experience heartburn at least once a month and more than 30 to 40 million people experience heartburn on a daily basis. In most cases heartburn is not a serious matter, but regular attacks of heartburn could be a symptom of other health problems.
One of those more serious problems is Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, more commonly known as GERD. When you swallow food, a valve located on bottom of the esophagus opens to allow the food to pass into the stomach. This valve then closes to keep the stomach acids from splashing back up into your throat. Occasionally, for different reasons, this valve does not close quickly enough or tight enough. Thus, acid splashes back up into your throat and you experience acid irritating the lining of the esophagus. Continued irritation of your esophagus could lead to GERD.
Left untreated, GERD can lead to bleeding from the lining of the esophagus, a narrowing of the throat or a pre-cancerous condition known as Barret’s esophagus.
Overeating or being overweight can cause regular heartburn attacks.
But there are other contributing factors. There are foods that can contribute to heartburn, such as chocolate, fried, spicy or fatty foods and donuts. Beverages such as coffee, alcohol or drinks that are carbonated and some medications can cause heartburn.
Let’s not overlook one of the major contributors to heartburn and that is stress. Being under constant stress can really play havoc with your digestive system and lead to constant bouts of heartburn.
Antacids can help you through the occasional heartburn but if you experience heartburn on a regular basis you should see your doctor.
Pay attention to the things that are in your control to eliminate heartburn. Watch your weight; being overweight puts pressure on your stomach. Eat a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats and plenty of water.
Of course, never underestimate the value of exercise. Exercise will help you digest foods, relieve stress and keep your body weight within healthy limits.
Don’t rely on medication to relieve your heartburn if you suffer from it regularly. Get to your doctor before it turns into something that could make you uncomfortable for the rest of your life.
There are certain health topics that come up on a regular basis in phone calls, e-mails and discussions. Heartburn is one of them so we write about them regularly. Heartburn starts out as one of the less serious but very discomforting health issues you can really do something about with just a little common sense. Hopefully, with our regular discussions you will take care of your heartburn before it gets serious.
Remember, Fitness Road is here to help you make informed decisions about your health by providing you with common sense, practical health information, and products and services to help you make wise choices when it comes to nutrition, exercise and overall health.
Next month we are going to give you exercise and nutrition guidance in this column to get you to start planning your New Year’s health plan along with a few incentives to get you “pumped up!”
We can help you feel and look better. Call us at (888) FIT-ROAD or visit the website, www.fitnessroad.com. You are always welcome to visit us at our Wellness Center in Tempe Ariz.
Drive safe, be healthy and God bless you and yours, Mick.
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