How to get a handle on this fiery
Burning sensation in your throat? You're not alone. Daily,
millions of Americans deal with the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease
(GERD)- the backward flow of powerful stomach acids and enzymes into the
throat. Common complaints include sore throat, chronic cough, excessive
throat clearing, the sensation of something being caught in throat, heartburn,
sour taste, hoarseness, indigestions and difficulty swallowing.
To combat this malady, people in the United
States bought anti-reflux drugs to the tune of $3.7 billion in 1994. As a
result, ranitidine, used for reflux-associated symptoms, is among the world's
most commonly prescribed drugs.
Interestingly, however, studies have shown that many cases of reflux can be
treated successfully without drugs. In fact, lifestyle changes and use of
antacids may be enough to rectify this problem.
Following are lifestyle modifications that
help to prevent symptoms:
- Limit or avoid reflux-producing foods: caffeine, carbonated drinks,
alcohol, chocolate, fatty foods, peppermint, spearmint.
- Try to avoid eating after 7 p.m.
- Elevate the head of your bed by three to six inches.
- Decrease the size of each meal. Try grazing - eating about five to
six small meals daily.
- Avoid smoking.
- Reduce your stress as much as possible. Try stress-reducing via
mediation or long walks in your neighborhood or on the beach.
- Check with your physician about the medications you are taking (some can
worsen reflux symptoms).
- Avoid wearing clothing that fits tightly around your midsection.
- If you have reflux symptoms, avoid belching, straining, squatting, and
IF IT GETS WORSE...
Source: American Academy of
Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Bleeding, weight loss, or
significant swallowing difficulty may be warning signs of severe reflux.
Powerful medications, such as omeprazolc, or surgery may be recommended by your
It is important to note that you should see your
otolaryngologist if you experience chronic, severe, or recurrent reflux symptoms
or if your voice is hoarse for two weeks or more. Reflux sometimes can be
managed via altered lifestyle habits and antacids, but if these are not
effective, then further care and treatment should be sought.
information, order Stop the Heartburn, by David S. Utlcy, M.D., an
otolaryngologist at Stanford University Medical Center, (Lagado Publishing),
$9.95; to order, call 650-562-3800. For additional information via the
Internet, visit www.wfubmc.edu/voice/reflux.html.
© 2004 AAO-HNS/AAO-HNSF
Please read our disclaimer. Any information provided on this Web site should not be considered medical advice or a substitute for a consultation with Dr. Hector N. Hernandez or other healthcare professional. If you have a medical problem, contact us for diagnosis and treatment.