Millions of people suffer every day from the very uncomfortable symptom of heartburn. This is also known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Heartburn is a very unpleasant burning sensation located in the anterior chest that radiates from the stomach to the throat.
Sometimes it appears as a sensation of pressure on the chest and can mimic symptoms of a heart attack. It is worse at night when the patient is lying down and it is aggravated by eating spicy food, tomato, chocolate, coffee, citrus fruits and juices. Symptoms improve with the use of antacids.
When untreated, it can progress to esophageal ulcers, strictures, hoarseness and respiratory problems. Dental erosions, laryngitis, nocturnal choking, sinusitis and cancer of the esophagus are additional complications.
An estimated 14-20% of all US adult have some degree of gastroesophageal reflux.
Americans spend in excess of $10 billion dollars a year on acid reducing medications which are considered the first line of therapy for GERD. Despite the use of these medications, the incidence of esophageal cancer has increased significantly in the past 20 years, with an estimated increase of 200-600%
The other problem related to the use of acid reducing medication is that suppression of acid decreases absorption of iron, calcium and vitamins.There is also a moderate increased risk for fractures in menopausal woman on these drugs. (more…)