Man clutches abdomen in pain

Do You Suffer From Reflux?

Do you suffer from reflux, heartburn, indigestion, throat clearing, a persistent cough or hiccups? Or maybe a sensation of a lump in your throat, a hoarse voice, bloating, nausea, flatulence or diarrhoea?

Do you recognise your symptoms here?

Are you aware that all of these symptoms can be as a result of reflux?

If you present yourself to your GP with one or more of these symptoms, the assumption will usually be that you have an over production of stomach acid. You will often be offered reflux medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) such as Omeprazole or Lansoprazole.

What impact does reflux medication have on digestion?

The primary role of a PPI is to reduce stomach acid, which it does by around 90%. Stomach acid is essential and required for breaking down food, killing off unwanted bacteria and to activate enzymes crucial to digestion. So it is not hard to understand that there would be consequences for the digestive system in the absence of these essential processes.

There are times when taking a PPI is essential, for instance if the oesophagus or stomach are especially vulnerable to damage as a result of taking other medication, or due to a particular condition. However, many people are prescribed them simply because they experience heartburn or indigestion.

Unless there is a reason why you must remain on these medications, the recommended time for taking them in usually very short. You could consider them a sticking plaster to be kept in place just long enough for some healing to occur. But many people end up on them for much longer, in some cases for years. One of the reasons for this is that when people try to come off the medication, they often experience even more severe symptoms of acid reflux than they did in the first place. This is what we call rebound heartburn. It can be so severe that people believe that they still need the medication and can never come off it, which with the right support is often not the case.

Some of the common side effects from taking PPIs include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Headaches

There are also undesirable long-term effects:

  • A reduction in the ability to digest and absorb certain nutrients
  • Increased incidents of cardiovascular events
  • Increased risk of cancer and dementia

What can you do about your acid reflux or associated symptoms?

The good news is that you can have a really big impact by making manageable dietary and habit changes. After all, we don’t want you to come off the PPI and find you still have all your old symptoms due to the fact that nothing has changed! 

Here are some of the steps that you can take to ease your reflux and reduce your need for a PPI:

  • Increase your intake of certain foods that especially support the digestive process.
  • Remove foods best avoided for an acid reflux picture.
  • Reduce the impact that stress is having on digestion.
  • Retrain your digestive system to work better by changing your eating habits.
  • Take supplement which can support the digestive process, protect and soothe the oesophagus and address the reduction of some nutrients caused by taking the PPI.

The Reflux Revolution!

A group of us have been studying with my mentor and nutritional therapist Debbie Grayson, affectionately known as the Godmother of pharmacology due to her 20 years of experience as a pharmacist. We are excited to be starting a ‘Reflux Revolution’ aiming to bring awareness to the general public and medical profession that where appropriate and with the right support, patients can come off reflux medication and have long term improvement in their digestion.

The good news is that if you do not need to stay on a PPI for specific medical reasons, you can successfully stop taking them while minimising the rebound effects. This requires support from a trained practitioner working in conjunction with your GP or medical practitioner.  If you do need to stay on the PPI, you can still do lots to support your compromised digestion, so that the negative impact are minimised.

I am really happy to share with you that I am now an accredited reflux practitioner! I am able to offer even more support to those of who are experiencing reflux, whether you are on prescribed reflux medication or not.

Here is a link to my profile on the Digestion with Confidence website

If you are anyone that you know would like my help in this area, then please do get in touch. I offer a free 20 minute chat

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