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My Life with Acid Reflux and What I Have Learned

Updated on September 22, 2012
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Feeling Funny

In November 2010, I woke up and ate breakfast as usual. But for one reason or another, after I ate breakfast I started feeling nauseous and vomited. As soon as I finished throwing up, I felt better but I still did not feel completely well.

I ignored it as a bug and continued on. Fast forward to March 2011 and the same thing happened again. Everything was fine until the same thing happened to me. At that point, I thought something was wrong but again I could not point my finger at anything specific.

When I was in college, I discovered I was deathly allergic to nuts of any kind. That included anything that barely touched nuts or nut-based products. From the moment my allergist confirmed that- I knew what to look out for. So I knew it could not be that.

I decided to go to my doctor around mid 2011 and she thought it was digestive- maybe acid reflux. At the time, I as not sure but I did what the doctor said anyway and took some over the counter Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)- mainly Prilosec.

This spring I had another episode which I thought was something else but after several appointments over the past few months my doctor and I are sure this is reflux. I now have a treatment plan that seems to be working.

But from what I have learned, I want to share with people who may be going through the same thing.

Causes of Reflux

There are several causes of acid reflux and they are not the same for everyone. Most acid reflux sufferers are over 40 but I am in my mid-twenties. From what my doctor and other physicians have told me, the cause of my issues are related to my lifelong struggles with seasonal and food allergies.

Histamine is produced when you are exposed to allergens and consistent histamine reactions trigger nausea and reflux. But no two cases are alike.

  • Schleroderma
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened System
  • Extremely Tight Clothing
  • Alcohol (Not always but sometimes)
  • Slow Stomach (Usually because of Diabetes, Medications, or other ailments)
  • Allergies (Food and Seasonal)
  • Asthma
  • Excessive Exercising
  • Pregnancy (The hormone Progesterone plays a major role)
  • Family History (Particularly anyone who has had digestive problems)
  • Diet (Particularly a high fat, low fiber one)

Syptoms of Reflux

Reflux affects twenty five million adults everyday and sixty one million adults every month. And since it is a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract- there is a possibility that it can be confused with other disorders such as ulcers. So while these symptoms may point to the possibility of acid reflux, you should consult with your primary physician or arrange to see a gastrointestinal specialist.

  • Nausea/Upset Stomach After Eating Meals- For me this primarily happened after breakfast. When I talked with my doctor she said this is common because acid is produced overnight while your body's resting. And the reaction of food and acid has its problems.
  • Abdominal Pain/Swelling- This is something I experienced regularly. It usually happens after meals.
  • Trouble Eating Meals- If you start feeling discomfort while eating, that is a sign something is amiss.
  • Burning Pain in Chest- This is obvious since it is also called heartburn.

Even though these are common symptoms, there are others that are less noticeable. But you still should be aware of any changes in your body that aren't normal.

  • Morning Hoarseness/Sore Throat- If you sound like a cartoon character other than yourself, than this is something to consider.
  • Drooling- This is only reserved for sleeping babies and adults.
  • Coughing Spells- Unless you have a cold, it is something to watch out for.

Sources/Further Reading

The Acid Reflux Solution, Dr. Jorge M. Garcia

50 Ways to Relieve Heartburn, Reflux, and Ulcers, M. Sara Rosenthal

How to Stop Heartburn: Simple Ways to Heal Heartburn and Acid Reflux, Anil Minocha, M.D., and Christine Adamec

Treatment Options and Tips

There are ways for acid reflux to be treated both with and without medicine- it just depends on what your doctor thinks is best. My treatment involves attacking the histamine produced from my allergies, so I take two different medicines. At the moment, I am feeling better but the healing process is about more about a lifestyle change than just medicine.

Medicines/Supplements:

  • Papaya Tablets- This is a natural remedy that some physicians and health experts recommend.
  • Charcoal Tablets- Another natural supplement some recommend to help alleviate some of the symptoms of reflux such as gas and bloating.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (Priolosec, Nexium)- Many of you have seen commercials for these medicines especially now since they are available over the counter as well as via prescription. They block acid production in the body.
  • Antacids (Maalox, Alka Seltzer)- Unlike PPIs, they give relief of acid reflux symptoms without blocking acid production.
  • Water Before Dinner with Lemon/Vinegar- It doesn't sound tasty but anything is better than reflux.
  • Seaweeds, Chamomile and Other Herbs- They are supposed to work to relieve symptoms naturally but again check with your physician before going this route.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Spicy Foods (This doesn't mean you can rule out entire cuisines such as Mexican and Thai but you just have to be more careful in what you eat)
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Carbonated Drinks
  • Alcohol (Red Wine is okay)

Wellness Tips:

  • Don't Drink During Meals- It messes up the digestive process. It's best to drink 30 minutes to an hour before or after.
  • Stop Eating 3 Hours Before Bedtime- This means if you go to sleep at 10pm, eat no later than seven. Your body needs time to digest without interruptions.
  • Sleep with Your Head Elevated- This helps acid remain in the digestive system and get a good night's rest. I recommend a wedge pillow if you're like me and don't like sleeping on two pillows- they are sold everywhere.
  • Exercise Regularly- At least thirty minutes a day, four to five times a week will make a difference.
  • Don't Lie Down Right After Eating- No one should do this anyway but at least give yourself an hour for the food to process.
  • Maintain Communication with Your Doctor- This is for anyone regardless if they have acid reflux or not, but if something is not working or you have other symptoms contact them ASAP.

Acid reflux is not a sentence to me, it's just a wake-up call. Before reflux, I was pretty aware of my health but this has helped me see that no matter how good you think you are doing, you can do better.

With the right attitude and outlook, you can change your lifestyle and live a healthier life.

Comments

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    • Pamela 114 profile image

      Pamela 114 3 years ago

      I have had a letter stating I have Barrets oesophagus, I went( like you do ) straight onto the internet to determine what it was while waiting to see another consultant.I have a history of acid reflux and had two fundoplacations years apart for severe problems as a result.I have found that it is a change in the cells and that they can be for runners of cancer..Does anyone else wake in the morning wondering is today have they changed to cancer ?

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi toknowinfo,

      I agree it is troublesome to deal with and even though apple cider vinegar is not that appetizing, it's better than having to deal with reflux. I'm definitely going to consider pursuing natural options so I won't be so reliant on prescriptions and over the counter drugs. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      Acid reflux is not fun. I am sorry you are suffering from this. There are so many people who are dealing with this, hopefully the treatments and knowledge will improve for this. I heard that apple cider vinegar is very effective to treat acid reflux. As strange as it may sound, it is a natural and old fashioned remedy. It is not pleasant to take, but it may pay to do some research about it to educate yourself. I take apple cider vinegar every once in a while, and it helps many things. Good luck and feel good.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I'm sorry about your reflux Vicky022389. But I'm glad you found a good solution. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Vicky022389 profile image

      Victoria P 4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      Great article! I also have acid reflux, I have tried all of the above but the only thing that works for me is if I use 1-2 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tbsp of pure honey in a tall glass of water. It tastes awful but it feels nice and warm in my stomach and takes the pain away within a few minutes.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much rajan jolly!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks stillwaters707!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Alecia, very interesting and useful info, on a condition that a lot of people suffer from. Very practical suggestions and tips about symptoms, foods and remedies.

      voted up, useful and sharing.

    • stillwaters707 profile image

      stillwaters707 4 years ago from Texas

      Yes, peppermint is another food to avoid.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much Docmo!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 4 years ago from UK

      A really useful hub on GORD here Alecia- as you've pointed out a large number of people who suffer from such reflux. Your sensible suggestions are a welcome information for the sufferers. up/shared.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Melovy! I think peppermint helps but mainly for upset stomachs and issues of that sort. Something with peppermint irritating acid.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      I am sorry to see you have this condition at such a young age though you seem to have a very positive attitude to it. The information here is very useful and I can think of a few people who might benefit. I was surprised to see peppermint included in the foods to avoid because I thought it was supposed to be good for tummy problems, but presumably that's some other kind of problem.

      A very useful hub.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Tillsontitan!

      I do wonder why acid reflux is on the rise. I think it has to do with diet and environmental factors. I'm sorry to hear about your grandson and granddaughter, I hope they find relief.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Voted up, useful, and interesting. You hear of more and more people suffering from this...wonder why? Is it what we're eating or is it just finally being diagnoses? Glad you have it under control and hope it resolves itself. I have a three year old grandson possibly suffering from it and a nineteen year old granddaughter who definitely has it.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much Mekenzie!

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 4 years ago from Michigan

      Great information here. Acid reflux can damage the esophagus and even cause throat cancer. It's important to get it under control. Most people won't have to use medication and can use the healthy alternatives you recommend.

      My daughter used a capsule containing orange rind from a health food store. It stopped it!

      I appreciate the tips you share here. Good Job!

      Mekenzie

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much Lipnancy!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Thanks for sharing your struggles and I especially like that way you shared the practical solutions that work for you. I am sure that it will help many people.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much Cogerson! It does seem that some people have it and grow out of it.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

      I am sorry you have been struggling with acid reflux...and I am glad to see your treatment plan is working. My youngest child seem to have some issues like this when she was younger...but thankfully she has grown out of it. You have included many informative facts and many helpful solutions in the hub....and for that I am greatly appreciative....voted up and very useful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi agusfanani,

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Ruchira,

      I didn't know that about vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the tip and for coming by!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Debbie,

      I can't imagine what it was like to feel like you were having a heart attack. I'm glad you found your solution. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi Alecia,

      I had Acid reflux last time and it felt so bad. Thank you for writing a hub about it . the information is useful for people how to avoid it or how to cure Acid reflux.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Alecia,

      Well said. Acid reflux is bad and if happens in excess can hurt other organs as well.

      Vanilla icecream is also considered helpful in cooling off during that time.

      I wish you well, my friend!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow my Acid Reflux got so bad the doctors thought I was having a heart attack. I have been on Nexium since 2003 .. I have gotten better but it has been a rough road I have been in the hospital twice.. I have found exercise and changing my diet.. NO Fried foods no fast foods.. lots of water and a Nexium once a day.. I still have to take Tums but not like I did before., great hub here I will post on Facebook

      Debbie

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Jeannie,

      I know it's hard but making the changes in my diet has helped. And since I know I don't want to be on that medicine, I am going to try hard as possible to do it. Best of luck in finding relief!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks for sharing this information. I will have to try some papaya tablets. Nothing else seems to help me... of course, it might just help if I stopped eating spicy foods, chocolate, and guzzling Diet Coke, too. Great hub and voted up!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I'm glad to hear your husband got better sholland10. It is definitely a scary situation when you don't know what your body is doing and try to overcompensate for it. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi oceansider,

      I didn't know that about artificial sweeteners and aspertame but it makes since. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you teaches12345! I hope this does help those who need it.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi stillwaters707,

      I forgot about caffeine but you're right, I can't drink or eat anything with it anymore. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much manthy! And I wish you the best in dealing with your reflux.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
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      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you so much mary615!

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      My husband had to have surgery to remove a hernia that formed because of his acid influx. He will be on medication for the rest of his life, but the alternative is worse. There were times (in his late 20's) that I thought he was having a heart attack. He ate fast, chewed tobacco, ate acidic foods, over-exercised, and ignored his symptoms. He has slowed down on all of those things. I think stress has a part in it, too.

      Great hub, Alecia! Votes and shares!

    • profile image

      oceansider 4 years ago

      Thank you for your article, it is very good and informative as well......I sometimes drink apple cider vinegar & water and take papaya-pineapple enzymes, and my digestion has been great.....

      I had heartburn for awhile, years ago, but when I started eating healthier, it was gone permanently.....I just don't drink soda or other carbonated beverages and I avoid sugar.

      Also, another really bad thing for digestion is artificial sweeteners like Splenda and anything with aspertame.

      Voting this up!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing from your experience, you have taught us a lot form it. Sorry you had to suffer so much. I know people who have this condition and resort to meds that are not really making a difference. You have posted some natural remedies that are very useful in helping to keep this to a minimum. Voted up and shared.

    • stillwaters707 profile image

      stillwaters707 4 years ago from Texas

      Caffeine is another thing to avoid. I have the same, and I do okay with decaffeinated sodas and coffee. That's probably why chocolate should also be avoided, which you mentioned. Thanks for the teaching hub. It will help many with the same problem.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 4 years ago from Alabama,USA

      I have had it a long time, thanks for sharing this info, I hope it helps people who don't know how to deal with it

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      Oh, my....this must be terrible to experience. This is a very informative Hub for people who do suffer with acid reflux

      I voted this Hub UP, and shared.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks alocsin! I've heard that some people struggle with reflux for a lifetime while others just a few weeks. I guess it has to do with what your body is going through and genetics as you said.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Janine! It seems to be a growing issue with people of all walks of life but just having it a couple of weeks is enough to know what it is like. And I hope your husband gets the right treatment and care he needs.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I used to suffer from this constantly in my twenties, and the ultimate cause was genetics. I'd tried many solutions, none of which worked, and then all of a sudden, it disappeared. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Alecia, I suffered terrible reflux and morning sickness when pregnant with both my girls and feel for you completely. From someone who lived like this for weeks on end with two pregnancies my heart does go out to you. Recently, my husband has been getting acid reflux in the evening and he too was complaining of some of what you listed here. He has gotten an appointment at the local gastro doctor and hopefully they can indeed diagnose and also get him on the right path to help alleviate his discomfort. Thank you for sharing your story and writing this article. I am sure that this will help others who have similar and have also shared, voted and tweeted too!!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Sunshine! I didn't include this but I went back and forth with my doctor as well. But she was right in the end. I just wanted to make sure she had tested me and exercised all options. No matter what the doctor says you know your body and your issues better than anyone.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My doctor told me three times to take meds for acid reflux. Three times I refused because I didn't have acid reflux symptoms. I have allergies. He would get irritated with me, but I pointed out the fact that I know my symptoms better than he did. I'm so stubborn. Regardless I cut back on some of the possible irritating foods (except for chocolate and diet coke) and treated my allergies and all is well. Thank you for sharing this info and your journey!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Michelle! I've heard of Barret's Oesophagus but don't know much about it. I'm glad to hear he's doing better!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      My husband has this too. I was told he has Barret's Oesophagus-A ore-cancerous condition where acid reflux occurs. Digestion is a problem! But with supplements, it's better now.Thanks for sharing this, I'll share this and forward it to him.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Cyndi! I'm glad you're sister's able to find relief.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      My sister has this - bad. I've done some research on her behalf, and she presented some of the natural remedies - which you mentioned here - to her doctor. Now she uses a combo of Prilosec and an apple cider vinegar concoction and it has really helped. Informative and useful hub! Voted and tweeted. :)