Is Acid Reflux Keeping You Up At Night?

Is Acid Reflux Keeping You Up At Night?

Anyone who has come into the Prolean Wellness office and spoken to Jeff for a consultation about our programs has probably heard about his former issues with acid reflux.  For Jeff, acid reflux was almost a constant – if he wasn’t feeling the effects, he was worried about what might cause them, or he was medicating to prevent them.  As someone who doesn’t have these issues – I can’t tell you what acid reflux feels like, but I can empathize with the discomfort and inconvenience it causes.  There were many nights when I would wake up to the sound of Jeff gagging and coughing because he had aspirated the acid into his lungs, or I would wake up to find him stacking pillows under his back and head so that he could sleep sitting up in order to avoid aspirating that horrible acid.  Prilosec or Zantac was a staple in our medicine cabinet.  A big bottle of Tums sat at his bedside.

Changing his eating habits was THE KEY to stopping the nights of discomfort.  Now we both sleep through the night, and it’s been five and a half years since he’s felt the digestive horror that he lived with several times a week.

There have been other benefits to getting rid of acid reflux that we hadn’t realized, but we are certainly grateful for.  Recent studies have shown that gastro-esophageal reflux disease also known as GERD is a major cause of esophageal cancer.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that 17,990 new cases of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in 2013, during which time the disease is predicted to cause 15,210 deaths.  Studies also show the people with recurrent symptoms of reflux have a 7.7-fold risk of esophageal cancer, while those with long-standing, severe symptoms (like aspirating acid several nights per week?) are at a 43.5-fold risk of the disease.

Okay – so that’s the BAD BAD news, but cancer can be a long way off and everything causes cancer right?  Should we all just continue taking things to block the acid reflux to avoid cancer?  Here’s a list of the effects that come from the common acid blocking drugs on the market today.

  1. Aluminum containing Antacids (Maalox and Mylanta). Studies have shown these drugs to cause bone softening – so you’re trading a good night’s sleep for a broken hip a few years down the road.
  2. H2 Blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid, Zantac the ingredients to look for are Cimetidine, Ranitidine and Famotidine).  Studies have shown these to cause a Vitamin B12 deficiency.  We know that B12 is a key factor in energy levels.
  3. Proton-Pump Inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium, Zegarid – the ingredients to look for are Omeprazole, or Esomeprazole).  Issues with these medications are Vitamin B12 deficiency, Reduced medication bioavailability, Clostridium difficile –associated with diarrhea, Pneumonia, Osteoporosis as well as vertebral and hip fracture, and Rebound acid over-secretion.

So now let’s look at some of the more immediate “side effects” listed on the types of medications to reduce acid reflux.  Headache, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, rash, dizziness, vomiting, bone pain, feeling of discomfort, loss of appetite, mood or mental changes, muscle weakness, swelling of wrists or ankles.

A change in your diet can be a solution to GERD – those harmful and potentially dangerous medications can be avoided.  Our programs at Prolean Wellness are designed to help you understand how different foods work with your body.  Many of our clients are able to experience the same benefits Jeff did when they change their eating – not only does the weight come off, but the acid reflux goes away, and with it, the potential risks and effects that can be associated with GERD and the medications used to control it.

Although change in nutrition is essential, there are also supplements that can be used to help your body break down foods more effectively. In the end – the inability to digest or process foods is the cause of “digestive issues”.  A digestive enzyme gives you back the enzymes that are cooked out of foods, probiotics are vital to building the healthy flora in the gut, and prebiotics are tools to help build up the healthy bacteria needed to break down food.  Genetically modified foods, preservatives, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and sugar substitutes are just a few of the things that have changed the modern diet and given our bodies more than they can handle effectively.  That is why issues such as GERD and food sensitivities are on the rise.  At Prolean Wellness, we’ve partnered with a well-known nutritionist to provide Digestive Support, a supplement that includes Digestive Enzymes, Prebiotics and Probiotics in one capsule.  We recommend using this to help break down proteins and to give your body the building blocks needed to properly digest the food in order to avoid the late night discomfort.

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