The Realities of Reflux: Debunking Myths about GERD
If you or your loved ones suffer from GERD, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard a lot about acid reflux and heartburn. Unfortunately, like many medical conditions, misconceptions about these issues are widespread.
Popular myths can distort the way we think about conditions like acid reflux and heartburn, making it harder to find relief and the proper form of treatment. Whether you’ve lived with reflux for years or are just starting to feel the sting of heartburn, learning the truth behind common myths can be a big help in staying healthy and pain-free.
Here are some of the most prevalent misconceptions about reflux and the facts to set them straight:
Acid reflux and heartburn are just problems you have to put up with.
Many people live with reflux and heartburn for years, viewing them as unfixable problems that simply must be tolerated. But there’s no need to subject yourself to daily discomfort—over-the-counter antacids can help you manage symptoms, as can losing weight and making simple changes to your diet. When acid reflux and heartburn become chronic, reflux surgery can help you permanently correct the malfunctioning valve that’s causing these symptoms. Trying to ignore acid reflux can be painful, but it can also lead to long-term damage to the esophagus, so it’s important to seek treatment if you have these problems consistently.
If you have acid reflux, a bland diet is your only safe option.
While it’s true that many reflux sufferers can’t handle spicy foods, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on any form of flavor. There are thousands of spices that can add a little zest to your meals without putting you at risk of reflux. Start experimenting with things like cumin, turmeric, rosemary, basil, garlic and ginger. And remember: not everyone responds to foods in the same way, so try starting by simply keeping spicy foods to a minimum in your diet and taking note of how your body reacts when you eat them.
Milk and mint are great choices for at-home reflux relief.
A glass of milk is often recommended as a remedy for reflux sufferers, and while milk can neutralize stomach acids temporarily, the calcium it contains will actually increase acid production long-term. You may have also heard people suggest mint gum as a quick fix, but this is actually a well-known reflux trigger. Instead, try some licorice, which is flavored with a well-known stomach soother called anise.
Though countless people suffer from acid reflux and heartburn, not everything you hear about these problems is true. If you have any questions about GERD and the best ways to deal with it, talk to Dr. Bagnato.