Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Can heartburn be a sign of a heart attack?

The answer is no, but sometimes pain in the chest may be mistaken for heartburn when it's really a sign of heart disease. If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor.
* You have trouble swallowing or pain when swallowing.
* You're vomiting blood.
* Your stools are bloody or black.
* You're short of breath.
* You're dizzy or lightheaded.
* You have pain going into your neck and shoulder.
* You break out in a sweat when you have pain in your chest.
* You have heartburn often (more than 3 times a week) for more than 2 weeks.

Monday, October 30, 2006

1 in 4 people suffer from heartburn!

A new study, published in this week's issue of The Lancet, Nicholas Talley, MD, and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. looked at the prevalence of heartburn reported in 31 studies on the topic.

The highlights of the article include:

-25% of people in Western countries report symptoms of heartburn at least once a month; 12% suffer from the burning and pain in the chest at least once a week.

-only 11% of those living in Eastern Asian countries report having heartburn at least once a month and 4% weekly.

-5% in the West report symptoms every day.

Although the exact cause of heartburn is unknown, genetic factors are thought to play a role. Obesity and lifestyle factors such as eating certain foods, drinking alcohol, and smoking increase the risk of developing heartburn.

Moayyedi, P. The Lancet, June 24, 2006; vol 367; pp 2086-2100. News release, The Lancet

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Stages of Heartburn Treatment

There are many heartburn treatments on the market today all claiming to be the "cure" for heartburn and acid reflux. How do you know which one is right for you?

1) Antacid medicines are available over the counter and are effective for occasional hearturn. They work by forming a layer on top of recently eaten food, which prevents the acid from moving back up into the tube that connects the mouth to the somach (oesophagus). These treatments are effective, however, if you are finding yourself taking them 2-3 times per week, consult your doctor.

2) Recieve a stronger prescription from your doctor. The medicine a doctor can prescribe will reduce or prevent the production of acid in the stomach and allow the inflammed gullet to heal.

3) When symptoms are severe, or there are complications and medical treatment does not help, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct a hiatus hernia and prevent heartburn (reflux). This surgical procedure, called fundoplication, involves replacing the stomach back to its original position under the diaphragm. The surgeon then wraps and stitches the upper few centimeters of the stomach around the oesophagus (gullet) to prevent heartburn recurring. This operation can be carried out either by traditional open surgery or by keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. This procedure may also be advised for patients without a hiatus hernia who suffer from severe reflux.

4) Alternative medicines are also available, but be strongly advised to consult your doctor before beginning this route.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

5 Foods that are actually GOOD for heartburn!

As promised, here are 5 foods that are actually good for heartburn:

1) Apples
2) Feta Cheese
3) Broccoli
4) Baked Potato
5) Extra Lean Ground Beef

Not surprisingly, these are also foods that are good for other processes in the body including weight loss. So, eat up, take care of your heartburn, and you just might lose those last 5 lbs in the process!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Top 5 Heartburn Inducing Foods

These aren't necessarily in any particular order, and everyone has different foods that affect them differently, but here are the top 5 most common heartburn inducing foods:

1) Citrus fruits - oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, etc.
2) Tomato products - including sauces, juice and soups.
3) Alcoholic Beverages - any.
4) Peppermint
5) Coffee - Although now it's possible to buy coffee that's roasted in a certain way to reduce the acid, thereby lessening the chances of heartburn. (Can be found at www.thelowacidcoffee.com)

For more information on how foods affect heartburn click here.

Stop by tomorrow for the top 5 best foods for heartburn!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Are GERD and Acid Reflux the Same?

Unless you're a doctor, the answer is yes. Acid reflux is actually one of the causes of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, but since GERD specifically refers to the affected body part it's the term doctors prefer. There may be other things that cause GERD, such as bile reflux according to the Mayo Clinic , but for most people the terms GERD and acid reflux are synonymous.

GERD Linked to Laryngeal Cancer

If you need yet another reason to take your Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) seriously, it has now been linked to laryngeal cancer. In the study people with GERD are twice as likely to develop cancer of the larynx than those without. If you smoke and have GERD (smoking is considered a main cause of GERD) you are six times more likely.

GERD has long been linked to esophageal cancer. Specifically adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, occurs most commonly with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This cancer is increasing in frequency. You can learn more about it GERD and esophageal cancer here .

GERDing for Exercise: Making Your Workouts Fun II

Exercising to reduce weight is a key component to treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn symptoms. As discussed in the first part of this blog series we want to make exercise loads of fun so you'll love doing it.

Before we dive in, keep remember these two simple points. First, the goal of exercise is not to kill yourself for a week and then quit. Exercise is a lifestyle. As long as you're moving, you're alive. If you're not moving, you're dead. Second, make exercise fun!

Even More Fun
Still think exercise can't be fun - take one look at professional athletes. Those guys are smiling, laughing, slapping high fives. They love what they do and no one is in better shape. One of the reasons they love exercise so much, is it has purpose for them (which was also in the first part of this blog series ). Find purpose in your exercise and it will immediately become more enjoyable.

Get A Partner
The vast majority of us like to hang out with other people, so why exercise alone? Get a partner. Heck, get two or three. Just having someone else to exercise with is motivating and makes exercise more fun. If you're one of those people that just likes gabbing with your friends, now you can do it during a walk, jog, hike, bike, etc.

Join A Team
If working out with one person is fun, just think how great it would be with a whole team. Team play is like going to a party for exercise. You can play volleyball, basketball, softball, squash, flag football. Join a runners or walkers group. The choice is yours. Two of my best friends play in a soccer league. No coincidence, they're two of the most in-shape people I know, but they rarely go to the gym. Teams are fun. You get to share experiences, meet new people, and you're all working toward the same goal. Plus, the parties after the big games are a blast!

If you're serious about losing weight to treat your GERD and heartburn symptoms I have one major piece of advice for you: Get an iPod . These little devices can do so much more than play music. For example, I frequently listen to books, interviews and comedians when I exercise - all from my iPod. Can you imagine cracking up to Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy or Ricky Gervais during a run? I can, because I do it frequently. You get some strange looks when you bust out laughing during a run, but having that much fun while getting in shape is well worth it!

Exercise=Great Things
If you don't think of exercise as drudgery or a 'set of rules' that you absolutely must follow, you'll soon realize that almost all great things in life come in the form of exercise. What do I mean by that? Think about it. Climbing Mount Everest, that's one heckuva workout. Winning the Super Bowl? Yep. For us more average joes, add surfing, skiing, hiking down the Grand Canyon, kayaking Penobscot Bay, going on Safari in Africa, you can even add giving birth to a baby to that list. See, as humans our natural state is one of motion. It shouldn't come as any surprise that the things we most admire and often most wish to do, come through exercise, which is really just a fancy word for moving. The opposite of moving is death, and the view from inside a coffin isn't nearly as good as the view from the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Yep, Even More Fun
With all those tips, you should be able to think of quite a few really fun ways to begin exercising, but there are even more ways to have fun and exercise. In fact, we've barely touched on some of my favorites. More on that in the days ahead.

Friday, October 13, 2006

GERDing for Exercise: Making Your Workouts Fun

As we discussed yesterday, being overweight can cause or increase your GERD and heartburn symptoms. But a lot of people, act as if they'd rather have GERD than exercise. My advice: make exercise fun.

Before you say I'm crazy, remember as a kid, how all play was exercise? Think about it - playing tag, shooting hoops, jumping rope, sledding, swimming, swinging, sliding, climbing on monkey bars. That's all exercise and we loved it! We were actually mad when we had to quit exercising! So, when did exercise become a chore instead of being about fun?

One of the reasons we don't like exercise is because, like mopping the floor, it has no real purpose except it must be done. Give it purpose and it will immediately become more enjoyable. What kind of purpose? I'm going to use running as the example throughout, but these tips apply to most every exercise.

Go Somewhere
Don't just run up and down the same street everyday. That's boring. Go somewhere - to a museum, your neighboor's house for a chat, to see the sunrise from the top of a hill, or to a place you've never been before. Be creative. Go places. Have fun.

Mix up your run. Change the route, frequently. Drive to a park and run there. Run around a lake. Go to a new part of town. You can even run on remote trails. Think of running as an exploration and you'll immediately be more engaged.

Look Around
Don't just run. This is your time. No one can call you. No one can force you to pick up the kids or change the oil. Make the most of that. Look around. Take things in - ducks on a pond, a deer in the woods, sculptures and outdoor art, the color of the leaves, interesting architecture of a building. There are a million things we "see" everyday, but never notice. Running gives you the chance to study and enjoy all these things. You'll be surprised at all the things you've missed.

Touchy, Feely
Just as people forget to take things in when they're running, they also assume they can't touch anything. Why do we create such weird rules? Make running tactile. Touch the bark of a tree as you run past, notice the grass or asphalt beneath your feet, and feel the wind on your face. It sounds silly, but I will often grab a leaf and carry it with me to remind myself that my run is about more than running.

Even More Variety
You don't eat the same food everyday, who says you have to do the same exercise everyday? Again, mix it up. You could easily do a different exercise everyday of the week. Here are my top seven - hike, run, walk, bike, swim, lift weights, shoot hoops, golf. Okay, that's eight. Sue me.

Even More Fun
There are many more tips on how to have fun exercising. Shocking, huh? I'll write more on how to have even more fun exercising and reducing your GERD and heartburn symptoms tomorrow. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your tips as well. Keep reading and you'll have a happy tummy.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reducing GERD and Heartburn Through (fun) Exercise

It's well known that GERD and heartburn are related to being overweight. It makes sense. If your gut's too big, it's bound to push your food back into your esophagus, which causes GERD, heartburn, etc. But exercise shouldn't be a dirty word. In fact, it should be fun. That's right, fun! How? Well...

First, exercise does not equal running a daily marathon. Exercise is simply about moving. What could be easier? You can walk, dance, swim, shoot some hoops, play video games like Dance-Dance Revolution (which has helped a lot of kids lose literally tons of weight). In fact, there are new video games hitting the market, like the awesome XaviX , designed specifically to make you move, kick, punch, jump. Sound like fun? It is. I'll write more on exergaming (yep, dumb name) another day, but to get started...

Commit yourself to moving 20 minutes, five days a week. It's that simple. Just move. Don't kill yourself. Have fun. This is a lifestyle - not a race. It's not something you do for a week or a month and then quit. Make you a deal - you can stop moving as soon as you stop brushing your teeth. The only other time you get to quit moving is when you die.

Tomorrow, we'll discuss ways to make exercise even more fun, but for today, just move and enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Acid Reflux's Impact on Breathing

While many people consider acid reflux and heartburn symptoms to be simple annoyances, there is mounting evidence that it can lead to much more serious diseases. The evidence linking acid reflux and esophageal cancer continues to mount.

A new report also shows that acid reflux may impact normal breathing and lung function. The report, from the University of Florida, suggests that acid reflux doubles Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a slowly progressive disease of the airways that is characterized by a gradual loss of lung function (source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute).

While that may sound confusing, COPD basically decreases your ability to breathe normally and gets worse over time. Most people would be shocked to discover it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Symptoms of COPD can include chronic cough, excess phlegm or sputum, and shortness of breath. It manifests itself as bronchitis, emphysema or combinations of these conditions. It should come as no surprise that COPD is frequently linked to smoking, which also aggravates heartburn and acid reflux.

Dealing with acid reflux and its symptoms, while challenging, is not impossible. See our 5 Easy Tips on things you can do to combat this disease.

For more information on COPD, the American Lung Association has a good overview.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

5 Easy Tips To Reduce GERD & Heartburn

The lower esophogeal sphincter (LES) is the most important valve for keeping stomach contents out of the esophogus, causing heartburn. Here are 5 simple things you can start doing today to aid the LES and alleviate heartburn and acid reflux.

1) Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Putting less pressure on the LES allows it to function more effectively.
2) Don't eat 3 hours before bedtime. Laying down with a full stomach puts more pressure on the LES, causing higher instances of failure.
3) Elevate your head a few inches while you sleep. This helps take the pressure off the LES by using gravity.
4) Don't wear belts or clothes that are tight around the waist. Tight fitting clothes cinch the stomach which puts pressure on the LES by forcing the stomach contents upward.
5) Aviod beverages that trigger acid reflux. These include alcohol, caffienated beverages, tomato juice, citrus juices, and carbonated beverages.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Heartburn and Coffee

Can You Get Heartburn From Coffee?
by: Robert Singleton

What would you think about if you heard the words heartburn coffee? Not too much right, after all it doesn’t make much sense. But that’s only if you live heartburn free. For many sufferers coffee is one of the biggest taboos in their diet So, when they hear heartburn coffee, what they’re really hearing is, heartburn pain – stay away from coffee.

Unfortunately, coffee being probably one of the world’s most favorite beverages, most people just can’t seem to stay away from it. And like I said earlier, while many of us enjoy the flavor and aroma of coffee, for others it does lead to heartburn.

What causes our all time favorite to give rise to heartburn coffee being the all time favorite of course? The main reason for heartburn is an excess of stomach acids leaking to the esophagus. As those stomach acids come into contact with the esophagus lining they cause it to get irritated. This excess acid in the esophagus leads to heartburn.

While there are many reasons that cause heartburn, the caffeine is the most potent. It causes the stomach to produce more acid than your body needs, and it is this excess of stomach acid that flows into the Lower Esophageal Sphincter. This is what leads to heartburn coffee though being the ultimate culprit.

Since the caffeine in the coffee is the prime reason why heartburn occurs, there is still hope for all you die hard coffee addicts out there. A patented new process known as the Hevla technology breaks the connection between heartburn coffee and you.

In the Hevla process the coffee beans are steamed at a very high pressure. The high pressure steaming removes the caffeine substance from the coffee beans without removing that delicious taste. Thus, we have a way to drink coffee without activating the stomach acids that leads to heartburn.

With the Hevla technique the caffeine is removed but the high quality coffee taste and flavor are still retained. This is a great achievement in the world of science and health. For those within the coffee industry this is an invaluable breakthrough. As a result of this technique and the technology that is involved, the range of coffee drinkers can be expanded to include those who previously avoided drinking coffee, due to heartburn.

When the Hevla coffee finally reaches the supermarkets then the coffee drinking floodgates will fly wide open. Then those less fortunate people who suffer heartburn coffee addicts really, can finally think about enjoying their cherished drink. The high pressure steaming process of the Hevla coffee beans means that the connection between heartburn and coffee drinking has finally been destroyed.

Therefore, without any fear of waking up your heartburn monster you can go full steam ahead, and try out the new coffee product and savor the aroma and delicious taste of your favorite beverage without the pain that comes from the triangle of heartburn coffee and you.