The One and Only REAL Treatment for Heartburn
To treat your heartburn, it’s important to select the correct and most effective solution for you. That means getting precise information on the real causes that underlie the heartburn symptoms. There are in general three kinds of treatment for heartburn: doctors’ prescriptions, surgical operations and natural/holistic solutions. These methods have marked differences in the way they are implemented and how they deal with different underlying factors, as well as in their effects over the long-term.
When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) between the stomach and the esophagus is in a normal state, it lets food pass one way into the stomach, but closes afterwards to stop acidic stomach contents from being pushed back the wrong way. However, when this muscle relaxes at an inopportune moment, that acid content gets back into the esophagus and causes the pain of heartburn. In this way, heartburn is the external sign of acid reflux or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). GERD is what happens when the muscular valve between the esophagus and the stomach is weakened.
Physicians habitually handle heartburn and associated problems by trying to use classical medications, some of which are available over the counter. These OTCs to counter acid reflux can be further classified into three categories:
1. Antacids that neutralize stomach acid by creating a covering that envelops the food content, examples being Maalox, Rolaids, Mylanta and Tums.
2. H2 blockers to damp down acid creation and diminish acid production in the stomach, characterized by products like Pepcid AC, Axid AR and Zantac 75.
3. PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitors), examples of these being Nexium, Protonix and Prilosec, which act by blocking the stomach cell mechanism that releases acid.
The Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery 2004 published research that found that PPIs do nothing to reduce the frequency of reflux attacks for GERD victims. Instead, PPIs simply convert acidic contents into alkali ones. The reflux still happens, but with an alkaline bile which may in fact be worse for the esophagus. Although short-term pain alleviation is promised by such drugs, long-term usage can be a significant problem. These drugs do not address the real issue, only the external manifestations. They set about this by altering the composition of the stomach chemically. These drugs typically only have short-lived effect and can induce long duration patient dependency as well as unwanted secondary effects.
The next alternative to drugs is surgical intervention. The surgeon uses the upper part of the stomach to wrap around the lower part of the esophagus in order to reinforce the valve mechanism between the esophagus and the stomach. This is designed to stop the valve opening when it should not, thereby halting the flow back of stomach contents into the esophagus.
A patient who relies on this alone is likely to be frustrated as without the proper lifestyle or diet alterations, heartburn symptoms will probably return. Other risks associated with this solution include diarrhea, nauseous feelings, cramps in the abdomen, bloating and problems in swallowing.
The solutions above either attempt to decrease the quantity of acid produced, or neutralize the acid or reinforce the LES mechanically. However, none of them addresses the real cause. The major inconvenience of these classical methods for attacking heartburn is that they all address local GERD symptoms, only attempting to resolve the symptom and not the real cause.
It is the simultaneous existence of different medical and lifestyle factors that provoke acid reflux. Genetic weakness, fatty foods, being overweight and specific lifestyle and nutrition factors all conspire to weaken the LES which stops it from closing properly. Inner equilibrium can also be perturbed by Candida infection and poor diet and lifestyle habits, including undue stress and inadequate sleep patterns, which lead to excess acidity, toxic accumulation and fermentation. It is the underlying factors that must be tackled to treat heartburn. This is the only possibility for permanently solve acid reflux and to prevent it from happening again.