Monday, November 12, 2012

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

The prayers to my ongoing respiratory condition have finally come to light. GERD is the term for acid reflux also known as heartburn. People have different symptoms within this diagnosis. Some people will pop a Tums or do some antacid and can move along, others may have accompanying asthma that can worsen GERD or the other way around. How did I make this connection? Actually, this connection was made by a doctor years ago but we just started treating the asthma symptoms. When someone is diagnosed with asthma at a later age, in my case in my forties, GERD is often looked at as an accompanying factor.

Always at night the symptoms start. That is another telltale sign. When I lie down to sleep, everything becomes worse. I start going into bronchiospasms, have trouble breathing and will start making gurgling sounds and a very loose cough. Let me explain what GERD is, how it is treated and some of the symptoms.

Reflux is what it sounds like. The stomach acid is constantly "splashing" the lower part of the intestine. In this condition acid in the stomach rises up into the esophagus. This happens because the valve separating the contents of the stomach from the esophagus  doesn't close properly--the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) - a muscle between the esophagus and stomach - relaxes, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to splash back (reflux). Certain foods are implicated, such as fats, tomatoes etc. This is a confusing situation for me because my diet is pretty low fat, no junk food including soda (rarely). I do love tomatoes and look forward to when they come out in the summer. When this acid causes problems with the breathing tubes, I feel asthmatic symptoms. I do question whether or not I have asthma but can safely assume all this is interrelated.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (

There are all kinds of over the counter remedies for GERD. Actually, the pharmaceuticals make a mint on some othem particularly since one is pushed into doing anything to feel better. Of course there is Tums, Prilosec, Nexium etc. and more prescription based drugs like Protonix.

So, what finally clued me in? I couldn't tolerate toothpaste! Searching led to answers and many others who couldn't tolerate toothpaste either. I finally put two and two together and realized that since I am alright in the daytime, I will make a few lifestyle changes. I switched to baking soda as my new toothpaste and introduced some fermented foods into my diet during the day, such as sauerkraut, pickled cabbage, pickled tomatoes etc.

The biggest discovery came last night. I kept reading about the "banana myth" which is introducing a banana after the evening meal. I thought "sure"!!! a banana?? Guess what? It worked like a charm. I had a little bit of wheezing but no breathing problems. So, I didn't have to use an asthma inhaler to sleep which by the way has been pushing up my blood pressure.  They say pineapples also help. I think they will be on my next shopping list. But the banana had me stumped particularly since it could deal with all the acid (tomato sauce and wine at dinner) and let me sleep.

No medication -- a banana a day, which is how I want to keep it

No comments: