What is heartburn? Heartburn happens when biproduct acid from the intestines comes up through the esophagus. This acid is not that strong, but can cause a lot of pain. When stomach acid comes up to the esophagus regularly, it can cause ulcers. The intestines release the lactic acid when the stomach is not acidic enough. Many doctors prescribe antacids for heartburn, as they believe heartburn is caused by too much acid. This is probably the biggest myth.
What are some of the causes of heartburn?
A major cause is the malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. This is the muscular opening at the bottom of the esophagus that separates the stomach from the esophagus. It prevents lactic acid from the intestine and stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. Overweight conditions usually affect the LES, as the excess weight causes an increase in pressure in the abdomen.
Diseases of the esophagus like scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that hardens the skin may cause heartburn. Another disease of the esophagus is Sarcoidosis. This happens when inflammatory lumps occur in the skin, lungs, or lymph nodes.
What does heartburn feel like?
In severe cases it can feel like a heart attack. It can also feel like a very severe pressure behind your sternum, or breastbone. Sometimes a burning sensation can arise at the back of your throat. The acid may cause erosion of the enamel on your teeth. This should be noticed by your dentist and addressed medically by your doctor immediately. In most patients, the worst symptoms appear after eating, especially at night. It is recommended that for acid reflux, patients elevate the head portion of their bed by a few inches. This helps to relieve the issue as a Band-Aid fix. Here’s another myth. If you change the pH to assist the stomach and intestines for proper function, this would not be necessary.
So what about calcium based antacids?
This can actually make the problem worse. Here’s the myth. Although they help to neutralize and even increase alkalinity, once again, it is a Band-Aid fix. The body then tries to correct the low acid issue, and you may feel pain. People then take more antacid, and cause more of an imbalance for the stomach to correct. It becomes an end of cycle. This way it is much harder for the stomach to correct the pH now. Long-term use of antacids can cause gastro- esophageal reflux disorder, or GERD. At this point, the valve that releases the lactic acid from the intestine, Ds mentioned earlier, never closes. This may cause more serious digestive disorders like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
So these are a few common myths about heartburn. The bottom line is, treat it naturally with the body’s function in mind. If you block acid, you can make things worse. Once again, functional medicine makes sense in the case of correcting, not blocking stomach acid. And remember, never ever let this go on for very long. It can turn into very serious diseases that may be fatal.
I help patients regularly by supporting their digestive system and thereby helping to balance the pH. Not by lowering or blocking the acid. This helps them not to have to take drastic measures like medications or elevating their bed to feel better. If you or someone you know is suffering from heartburn, please call my office for a complimentary consultation.
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Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Accurate Care Pain Relief Center
21043 N. Cave Creek Rd. #A9
Phoenix, AZ 85024