Myths About Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a common condition, but there are many misunderstandings and myths about it. Here are some of the most common myths, and an explanation of the truth.
Myth: Heartburn/Acid Reflux is caused by spicy foods and can be cured with a bland diet
In fact, acid reflux can have many causes. Although it is sometimes exacerbated by spicy foods, some people continue to have symptoms even when placed on a bland diet. If someone has Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, their problems are not usually due to diet.
Myth: Too much stomach acid causes acid reflux
Sometimes overproduction of stomach acids can cause acid reflux, but this is a rare condition called Zolliner-Ellison syndrome. Usually people with acid reflux have normal amounts of stomach acid. The real problem is that the stomach acid is going into the wrong place (esophagus) instead of staying in the stomach where it belongs.
Myth: Acid reflux only damages my esophagus
Actually, asthma has been linked to acid reflux. GERD can cause asthma or make existing asthma worse. Unfortunately, medications prescribed for asthma can make GERD symptoms worse, creating a vicious cycle of asthma and GERD. Hoarseness of the voice, a chronic cough, and a sore throat are also symptoms associated with GERD.
Myth: Acid reflux is brought on by stress
While stress can exacerbate acid reflux somewhat, the root cause of the problem cannot be stress.
Myth: Acidic foods cause acid reflux by adding to the acid already present in my stomach
Although certain foods that are acidic, like tomatoes or oranges, can make acid reflux flare up, it is not because of their acidity. There is not enough actual acid in these foods to make a difference.
Myth: People who suffer from heartburn at night must sleep sitting up
It's not necessary to sleep sitting up. Just be sure you don't eat within 3 hours of going to sleep. Then use a wedge pillow, or elevate the head of your bed 6-8" with wooden blocks.
Myth: Smoking a cigarette will relieve heartburn
Although smoking a cigarette during a heartburn flare up may temporarily relieve symptoms, it contributes to the problem in the long term. Cigarette smoking causes the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus to relax. So, if you have acid in your esophagus, it can allow the acid to return to your stomach. But the relaxation of the sphincter will allow more acid back in later, eventually making it worse.