What I Learned About Acid Reflux (And Why Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Everything)
Last winter I had some serious health issues.
I’ll be real and tell you where it started from: anxiety. I’ve got a hyperactive stress response system. So when something that offers no real threat to my life occurs — like a fork drops on the floor — my body physiologically responds as if it were being attacked.
Anxiety is more often than not my constant companion. And last winter it started to coincide with severe chest and back pain, which was scary, to say the least.
So after a trip to emergency, a doctor diagnosed me with severe acid reflux due to depression and anxiety.
Long story short, it wasn’t acid reflux, it was low stomach acid. And it took me a long time to figure that out.
Hospital trips, prescriptions with unfavorable side effects and multiple emotional meltdowns later I realized that as nice as the emergency room doctor was, she wasn’t capable of helping me fix what was wrong with me. And neither was my family doctor.
All either of them could do was offer pills that weren’t working, and invasive, over the top medical treatments, none of which would fix the reason why my body was yelling at me.
And I don’t do pills if I can help it. I was over-medicated for 20 years for depression, something I now know without a fiber of doubt didn’t need medicating. I needed counseling, a different home life, and some self-love (more on that down the road.)
Because of my experience, I am very wary of pills, as they just cover up the issue with a dash of something else (i.e. side effects, some of which we won’t know the existence of for many years.)
So I made a bold assertion: I had to look outside the medical system to fix what was wrong with me. And I had to take control of my life, which meant taking responsibility for what I was putting in my body.
Here’s what I did:
I stopped consuming inflammatory foods.
I started eating anti-inflammatory foods.
I stopped doing stuff that made me miserable.
I started meditating more to handle my anxiety.
I went to a naturopath who helped me look at my body as a whole, not just at the individual, physical ailment.
Here’s what I learned about doctors and acid reflux through my misdiagnosis:
A doctors default response to any reflux type symptoms is that your body is producing too much stomach acid.
Why? Because it serves the medical system to give that response. When they say it’s something else, they open up a whole new can of worms. And those worms take up appointment time.
“Your stomach is producing too much acid — here’s some pills to stop it.” Easy fix for a doctor.
Doctors are trained to get you out of the room quickly, so they can see another patient. They aren’t trained to question their training. And some of them purposely pack their schedules so they can bill MSP for as many patient visits as possible. I saw this first hand when I worked for a specialist for a spell inside a medical clinic.
(I know not all doctors take the “money first, patient second” stance. The emergency room doctor was really lovely, and my GP is really kind-hearted. But many of them do.)
Then there’s the ties to the acid reflux pharmaceutical industry. Proton pump inhibitors are in high demand. It is an extremely profitable industry. And how many people buy Zantac or other antacids like Tums? Tons.
So yeah, it doesn’t serve your doctor to say, “Maybe it’s not acid reflux.” Much easier to just prescribe a pill and send you on your not-so-merry way.
But then the problem — the pain — continues. Because taking antacids and popping PPIs isn’t a solution. It’s a dirty band-aid that has that ability to make you even sicker.
What may lead to a solution? Finding out if you actually have acid reflux.
Through an easy, do-it-at-home test I found out my issues weren’t related to acid reflux, but low stomach acid. And I was able to start sorting out the imbalances in my body with the help of my naturopath.
I’m going to share the test with you.
Here comes the ass-covering disclaimer:
This is not a quick fix.
Consult with a physician ( MD or ND) before trying this test or supplementing.
Here’s a super easy at home Stomach Acid Test.
Upon waking mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 8 ounces of water. Drink quickly. Now monitor how long it takes to have a large burp.
- Under 30 seconds: high stomach acid levels.
- 30 seconds to two minutes: normal stomach acid levels.
- Greater than 2 minutes or no burp at all: an indication of low stomach acid levels.
What to do if it looks like you have low stomach acid?
If the results of this test indicate anything out of the norm, chat with a medical professional. If you can afford to go to a naturopath, go! Investing in your health and wellness is the most loving thing you can do. Because when you are healthy, you are able to help others.
If seeing a naturopath isn’t possible, talk to your doctor about it. Just keep in mind that they tend to look at the body per individual ailment, not as a whole.
If you’ve got low stomach acid, there are affordable ways to treat it. I’m not going to share what I use because I think that’s irresponsible. You really need medical advice of some sort before you start taking supplements and/or mixing with your current prescriptions. So chat with your doctor or naturopath.
I might get some online hate for sharing this test, but I look at this post as a positive one.
I’m lucky enough to have benefits that pay for a lot of extended medical. Case in point, my naturopath’s services. I think it’s total BS that you have to be in a certain tax bracket or have pimped out medical benefits to get access to these types of life-changing services.
So I’m going to share what I learn, in hopes that it might help others.
Once I found out what my real issue was I was able to address it affordably and in a relatively timely manner. It’s not an overnight fix because health and wellness is a lifetime long process, but I’m committed to it.
At the end of the day, I want everyone to be healthy and happy. And when I think of all the folks who have been on antacids and proton pump inhibitors for years, and they don’t even need them, I cringe.
Questions about my experience? Happy to answer them. Email me: email@example.com
Take control of your health. The fact that you are still alive right now means you still have more to learn, so educate yourself!
Here’s to health and wellness. 🙂
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Andrea Scoretz is a Huffington Post blogger and freelance writer who creates soul-centric content for health and wellness coaches. www.mustlovecrows.com or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org