Acid reflux affects more of us than you might think! This week, I'm here to talk a little bit more about acid reflux and some natural treatment options you can try!
Hey everybody! It's Dr. Bob Salamon here with Lowcountry Chiropractic! I hope everyone is staying safe and doing great out there! Today on the blog we are going to be talking about acid reflux. Acid reflux is a condition that affects a lot of Americans, especially in this day and age. The medical term for acid reflux is called "GERD” or Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. While I generally don't use this word to describe acid reflux because it’s such a mouthful to say every time, I also don't like to use it because acid reflux isn't a disease. Today, we are going to dive a little deeper into what acid reflux is, some common medical treatments, and some of the natural things you can do to get rid of acid reflux or help to manage it.
Acid reflux is a condition, not a disease, and a malfunction in your body. What happens with acid reflux is that the acid that gets produced in your stomach and normally stays in your stomach refluxes up into your esophagus. This reflux creates a lot of pain and discomfort. This will usually happen after you eat a meal.Sometimes it can occur when an individual lays down to go to bed at night, and can be so bad that it will wake you up in the middle of the night! The acid in your stomach can reflux to the esophagus and then be aspirated into the lungs, which can be extremely dangerous. This danger is one of the main reasons why we need to talk about acid reflux today! Acid reflux can be painful and annoying, but it can also turn into a very dangerous condition if it gets severe. Acid reflux can cause a condition called Barrett's esophagus, and that is a precancerous condition that can lead to cancer of the esophagus. This is because the walls of the esophagus get burned by that acid that has refluxed up into it, so please remember that acid reflux is no joke and is something that needs to be taken seriously.
Some very common medical treatments come in the form of medicines like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, and others like it. These medications lower the amount of acid that is being produced in the stomach. This might sound like a good idea because if you have less acid in your stomach, possibly less of it will reflux up into your esophagus. This medication does work, but please remember that your body doesn't do something without a reason! Acid is being produced in your stomach for a good reason, based on the amount and type of food you ingest. A certain amount of acid is needed to break down the food in your stomach so it can be properly absorbed into your bloodstream. This absorption will help you get all the nutrients out of your food that you need. My personal view on this type of medication is that by reducing the production of the acid within your body, your body will not digest food properly, and you won't be getting the nutrients and vitamins out of your food as you should be. Also, in this situation, we are just treating the symptoms of your acid reflux and not fixing the cause of the problem. This is why, in chiropractic, we like to look at what causes the symptoms and fix that cause.
In a lot of cases with acid reflux, unless you have a hiatal hernia that is putting direct pressure on the stomach causing the acid to reflux up into the stomach, an important muscle in your digestive system isn't working as it should. Generally speaking, we don't see a lot of hiatal hernias causing acid reflux in the office. What happens when you eat your food is that it goes down into your esophagus and passes through the lower esophageal sphincter. This is a muscular valve inside of your esophagus and is the entrance into the stomach. Once the food goes through the sphincter and into the stomach, that sphincter is supposed to close completely. This closing allows the acid to do its thing and digest your food without getting out. The walls of your stomach are designed to be very strong to withstand this acid. Unfortunately, the walls of your esophagus are not that strong, and they cannot withstand this acid. This is why acid getting into your esophagus is a really bad situation. In a lot of cases that we see with acid reflux, the problem is that the sphincter muscle is not closing properly, or sometimes it is not closing at all when your food reaches your stomach. When this happens, the acid in your stomach is going to reflux into your esophagus. What we want to ensure is that the sphincter always closes when it is supposed to close and opens when it's supposed to open.
Guess what controls the opening and closing of this very special valve? It's a nerve! These nerves happen to come out of your spine right around the middle of your back (T5, T6, T7 area). Once there is food in your stomach, your brain will send a signal down to that nerve to say, "Close that sphincter!” In most cases, this nerve will work properly. It will listen to the brain and follow these directions perfectly. However, sometimes the communication between the brain and that valve via that nerve is not working correctly. This is one of the main causes of acid reflux! The valve is not closing properly because the nerve it is connected to is not working properly!
What could be causing this nerve to not work properly? If the bones of your spine are lined up properly, the spaces or foramen in between them are open and will allow the nerves to come out as they should and to act as they should with no interruption in communication between the brain and the body. The nerves in your back control every system in your body, so if one does get blocked or interfered with, you will notice a difference. When your bones get slightly out of alignment, the foramen that allows the nerve to come out closes down and that nerve gets pinched and irritated. This is called a subluxation! A subluxation is a chiropractic term, which is what all chiropractors work on. My job is to find those nasty subluxations in your spine and correct them and keep them corrected. Fixing these subluxations will allow your body to function properly. When it comes to the acid reflux cases that I have seen, I will palpate for the subluxation (usually found in the middle of the back). Sometimes there is actual pain associated with the subluxated area. This tells me that the nerve in that area is inflamed and not working properly. Once I find this, I adjust or treat that subluxated vertebrae. Low and behold, after this treatment, we get pressure off of that nerve and things start flowing again. That nerve starts to become healthy again, that sphincter starts working properly again, and almost like a miracle that acid reflux and its symptoms begin to go away. This whole process is pretty amazing, and while I've seen it successfully work many times in my office. I am still shocked by it. The body is designed to work optimally, and a subluxation of the spine is one of the things that will interfere with the body's ability to stay optimally healthy.
If the cause of your acid reflux is spine and nerve-related, then chiropractic care can help with your condition. On the other hand, if it's being caused by a hiatal hernia, that is a completely different story and is more of a medical issue. If it is being caused by a chiropractic subluxation, we can help you. This holds true for all conditions in the body. Every organ and function of your body is controlled by nerves. If there is a subluxation in other parts of your spine, you could be experiencing other conditions and symptoms for which medicine will only reduce your symptoms. Chiropractic is different; we look at the cause of the problem and correct the cause and not the symptom. This way we end up fixing the problem and you won't need to take medications anymore!
If you are suffering or know someone suffering from acid reflux and want to be checked out to see if a subluxation of the spine is causing the reflux, please contact us and we will be happy to do a thorough exam. We will take some x-rays and figure out if we can help your issue with chiropractic care. All of this also holds true for other issues, pain included, that you've just had enough of and want to get corrected naturally. I hope this week's blog has helped shine some light on acid reflux and puts things into perspective for you! I hope you all have a wonderful day and I will see you next time! Remember, I'm Dr. Bob and I've got your back AND your acid reflux covered!
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