September 10, 2010

Acid Reflux and Exertion

An unfortunate condition often signified by the stresses of modern day is acid reflux and the disease GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). This is caused by a failure of the esophagus’ sphincter, which is responsible for keeping acid down in the stomach and not up in the throat. Symptoms include frequent painful heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, regurgitation of acid, chest pain and tightness, bad breath, and frequent swallowing.

Another GERD-related disease has arisen in recent medical news and it goes by the name of acid reflux and exertion. It has been called EAGER (exertion associated estro-esophageal reflux), by Dr. Steven Peikin, a Professor of Medicine at Robert Woods Johnson Hospital. EAGER is excessive acid related to physical activities, most often the types associated with exertion, such as running or jogging, or any activity that will have you bouncing up and down.

In a recent study (sponsored by Pepcid), it was noted that 75% of baby boomers, men and women alike, experience heartburn at least occasionally, with 31% reporting instances of heartburn at least weekly. The same study indicates that occasional sufferers of heartburn will experience it 15% of the time when they exercise, with weekly sufferers likely to experience heartburn 45% of the time when they are exercising. An estimated 16 million Americans have their exercise interrupted by heartburn that may be caused by acid reflux and exertion, with non-sufferers getting to exercise 106 times a year, and sufferers only 85 times per year, on average.

It is an unfortunate, ironic symptom, the fact that many people who seek exercise as a means to improve their health are often prevented from effective exercise because of a health problem. It is often the jostling of the body that causes the stomach contents, including corrosive stomach acid, to move vigorously within the confines of the stomach. It may jostle stomach acid even more energetically up against the esophageal sphincter, causing it even further stress, especially in a GERD sufferer. A ?normal? person will probably not be affected by this jostling, but it can wreak havoc in the stomachs of GERD or acid reflux sufferers, adding acid reflux to their list of ailments.

The usual remedies may help with GERD symptoms, and therefore may help with EAGER symptoms (acid reflux and exertion): Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol; try chamomile or peppermint tea after meals; limit meals to smaller portions several times a day instead of a couple of big meals; avoid fatty and salty foods; try Aloe Vera gel or Milk of Magnesia as stomach balms. Specifically for EAGER sufferers, try less strenuous exercises (that would have you bouncing up and down less) such as swimming or bike-riding.

These homeopathic remedies may be tried first, in lieu of a prescription, if your doctor okays it. Be aware that OTC acid reflux, GERD and heartburn medications are only recommended for a limited amount of time (usually two weeks). After that time, it is recommended that you take a break before starting the regimen again. Even Rolaids or Tums are not recommended for extended use. If you do try an OTC remedy or have a prescription, make sure it has an acid reducer in addition to a stomach soothing agent.

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