About the various myths regarding the treatment of stomach acids and why ignorance can lead us astray in the quest to deal with the problem more quickly, Dr. Pavlov, gastroenterologist at "Hadji Dimitar" General Hospital, Sliven, answers readers' questions.
1. For some time after I eat, my stomach starts to swell and I feel terribly unpleasant heartburn. Relatives advised me to drink soda. However, the acids persist. How to deal with them ?
The appearance of the above complaints are often an alarming symptom of a serious illness. Self-medication is not recommended.
Baking soda has the following effect:
- Quickly neutralizes hydrochloric acid through a neutralization reaction. It should not be forgotten that it has a short-term effect.
- The initial neutralization is followed by an overproduction of hydrochloric acid
- The formed CO2 bubbles carry with them hydrochloric acid particles which, once in the esophagus, support the disease
- Prolonged and regular use leads to atrophy of the gastric mucosa, which unlocks other more serious diseases.
Remember that the treatment of stomach acid is individual, specific and always prescribed by a doctor.
2. I have a problem with stomach acids. I went to a doctor who prescribed me medicine to take for 1 month. The medicine worked immediately and on the third day I stopped taking it. After 1 week, however, the heartburn called again. What should I do ?
Non-treating and underestimating the problem of stomach acids, as well as non-adherence to the prescribed therapy, leads to the deepening of the problem. Following the duration of the course of treatment is very important. Suppression and reduction of clinical manifestations is not the only goal of the gastroenterologist. It is important to achieve a full recovery.
The patient must be protected from relapses and the appearance of complications, which requires maintenance treatment over time.
Heartburn is a serious problem that requires strict adherence to the prescribed therapy, such as dose and duration.
3. I read on the internet that stomach acids could actually cause quite serious complications if not treated in time. Is this true and do I have to see a doctor ?
Yes, it is. Heartburn as a symptom should not be underestimated and it is mandatory to visit a gastroenterologist to prescribe the right therapy to achieve treatment goals and prevent complications.
Patients with untreated heartburn are at risk of a number of complications such as:
- Non-erosive reflux disease
- Reflux Esophagitis
- Barrett's Esophagus – Barrett's esophagus is a complication of chronic gastroesophageal reflux. Normally, the mucous membranes of the esophagus and stomach differ in their structure and function. The border between them is called the Z line. It is clearly observed under endoscopic examination. Barrett's esophagus is the replacement of the mucosa typical for it with one typical of the intestinal tract - the so-called intestinal metaplasia. The presence of metaplastic tissue creates a risk of the development of a malignant process - adenocarcinoma
- Esophageal Cancer
The occurrence of complications is related to the duration, frequency and severity of reflux symptoms.
Don't underestimate the problem, see a doctor in time.
4. I often suffer from heartburn. Is this a disease, is it dangerous and what should I do to heal ?
Heartburn is an important symptom in several diseases of the upper gastrointestinal tract: GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), peptic ulcer disease, NSAID ulcer disease, etc.
The most common diagnosis in clinical practice is GERD, in this disease prolonged contact of the mucous membrane with stomach acid in the lower part of the esophagus is proven. The reasons for this are:
- Impaired "cleaning" of the esophagus from gastric juice
- Impaired lower esophageal sphincter function
- Delayed gastric emptying
- Increased intra-abdominal pressure.
My recommendation is to visit a gastroenterologist with whom you can share your complaints so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and appropriate treatment can be prescribed.
5. What foods should I avoid to avoid heartburn. I have had a problem for a long time and they usually appear after eating ?
Diet regimen as well as drug treatment go hand in hand.
Recommendations for he althy foods are
- bread - white or "Dobruja" type, never whole wheat
- milk and dairy products - fresh and yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese and yellow cheese, can be consumed, but avoid soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, Roquefort and all aged products
- vegetables – potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, but boiled, not fried. Do not accept cucumbers, tomatoes, hot and spicy salads, cabbage and green salads.
- fruits - apples, pears (peeled), all baked and cooked fruits. Avoid citrus fruits.
- meat – fish, lamb, chicken, turkey, beef and tender pork are allowed. Game, fried, canned, meat with spicy and hot sauces and spices are avoided.
- fats and oil – cow butter, olive oil and oil in raw form, not fried.
- desserts – milk creams, milk with rice, biscuits and waffles, chocolate and chocolate products are prohibited.
- drinks – water, tea, soft drinks (not citrus). Coffee, carbonated drinks and alcohol are harmful.
A few more tips:
- reduce your weight.
- sleep on a higher pillow - 4-6 cm.
- don't wear tight clothes
- do light physical activities.
6. I have been suffering from heartburn for years. I've tried everything! Is there any product you can recommend !
Self-medication, consultations in pharmacies or remote prescribing of medications is not the right and serious approach to treating stomach acid.
There are currently many drugs on the pharmaceutical market to deal with the problem.
You should know that not all are the same.
The recommendations are to use modern means, which are the so-called proton pump inhibitors, which are also many types.
When you visit the gastroenterologist of your choice, he will choose the best medication from this group that will achieve the goals of treating your problem, namely:
- Symptom Relief
– Mucosa healing
- Maintaining healing
- Prevention of complications.
7. My father was diagnosed with reflux - esophagitis. He had a problem with stomach acid for years. The doctor told him that if he had started treatment in time, it could not have come to this. Is this true ?
Yes, the doctor is right. Many people underestimate heartburn as an alarming symptom of illness.
The symptoms of reflux disease in patients with and without reflux esophagitis overlap, they are: heartburn, upper stomach pain, belching, hiccups, nausea, bloating and abdominal pain.
Postponing a visit to a doctor and neglecting complaints leads to the progression of symptoms and the appearance of complications.
My professional advice is that any patient who has heartburn, regardless of frequency and intensity, should seek medical attention. In this way, the deepening of the symptoms will be avoided, and with the help of modern medical treatment, severe and irreversible complications will not be reached.
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