5 Affordable Solutions for Acid Reflux Disease
I've had acid reflux (also known as GERD, for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) for about three years. It's painful, constant heartburn that is tough to control. There are a number of reasons why people get it. The most common is gaining weight. In fact, my doctor told me that it doesn't take much of a weight gain to start experiencing the symptoms of GERD.
Permanent heartburn might seem fairly tame in comparison to other health problems out there, but in the long term, GERD can damage your esophageal lining and can make you prone to all kinds of ulcers and even cancer.
In my case, the reason I have GERD is that my stomach sphincters (there are a few of them) stopped holding my stomach closed. Acid that should be spending time hanging around in my stomach backs up into my esophagus, which is extremely painful, because the espophagus has nerve endings that the stomach does not.
There are a number of ways to treat GERD. Here are some of the most affordable.
Lose some weight
A weight-loss of as little as ten pounds can start you on the road to a GERD-free life. Also, don't wear tight pants. I know that sounds extremely lame, but it does make a difference. In fact, this is the most surefire way to actually be cured of GERD.
Change the way you eat
Avoid spicy, sour, and highly acidic foods, including: chocolate, alcohol, coffee, tomatoes, onions, and cigarettes. There's a full list of foods to avoid here. Eat your last meal 3 hours before you go to bed. Don't snack before bedtime.
This might seem counter-intuitive, because mint seems like a very soothing herb. In fact, when I first started to develop acid reflux, everyone I knew kept telling me to drink lots of mint tea. "It's medicinal! It will heal you!". Hell, no, it won't. In fact, mint in all forms (gum, tea, whatever) should be avoided. Although mint does provide some relief to heartburn sufferers initially, it eventually stimulates acid production and makes the symptoms worse in the long run.
Drink some aloe juice
Aloe juice has the consistency of runny snot, but is really an amazing thing. Be warned, it can also function as a laxative, so don't drink too much in one sitting, or you'll be sitting more than you want... aw, you get the idea.
There are lots and lots of medications out there to treat GERD. They are as mild as Tums and as strong as Prilosec. If you are taking an over the counter drug like Prilosec, and you have health insurance, have your doctor prescribe the OTC meds for you. Your insurance should cover most of the cost. A one-month supply of Prilosec can run you between $40 and $70, depending on how much you have to take, but if your doctor prescribes it, you should only have to pay the co-pay. In my case, this amounts to $5.
There are more drastic ways to deal with GERD, from strong medications to surgery. You should obviously talk to you doctor about treating this condition if you feel that you have it. But if you are like me, and you just to have to live with it for a while, following these steps can make the experience less painful all around.