If you’re one of the nearly 60% of Americans with hiatal hernia and acid reflux, this holiday season may have brought more than just friends, family and cheer. Often, stressful times and overindulgence lead to flare ups of reflux or GERD during this time of year.
Many sufferers are looking to new, more effective methods to treat their reflux, after years spent visiting doctors, trying prescriptions and not seeing long-term results. Lifestyle changes are one of the most important things you can do, but after that, what are the options for those who cannot control their reflux?
Let’s talk a bit about what reflux, GERD and hiatal hernia are, and some methods on dealing with the symptoms and causes of your distress.
Acid Reflux / GERD / Hiatal Hernia – What’s the difference?
Acid Reflux and GERD are both symptoms of a hiatal hernia. Acid Reflux is what happens when acid from your stomach pushes up into your esophagus. GERD, gastro-intestinal reflux disease, is a severe or chronic condition of this reflux. Often a hiatal hernia is the cause of both. Hiatal hernia is a condition where a portion of your stomach pushes up and out of where it is supposed to be, toward your throat. This allows acid from your stomach to reach your esophagus and create the ‘heartburn’ sensation.
Why are we affected?
Hiatal hernia is extremely common and a vast portion of our population suffers from reflux or GERD on a regular basis. In fact, if you are over 50 years old there is a very good chance you have a hiatal hernia, likely due to a congenital twist in your body structure. It may seem like a small thing, but it can lead to real problems. Don McCann, founder of Structural Energetic Therapy®, has spent more than 30 years conducting therapeutic bodywork. He noticed when examining the body structure of people with hiatal hernias, GERD and acid reflux that there is an observable imbalance in the curve of the diaphragm. This is related to a twist in the body that is present at birth and increases over the years due to the accumulation of injuries stress and gravity. It is also part of the reason why your stomach pushes into your esophagus.
Commonly prescribed drugs and their problems
Many of the drugs created to treat GERD/Reflux are meant only to be used for the short term. These drugs, called protein-pump inhibitors or P.P.I.s, actually regulate and limit the amount of acid produced by your stomach. They do work for the short term. Issues arise from the common practice of when these patients are prescribed these drugs for years, creating a dependency and leading to other concerns. The major problems with long time use of P.P.I. drugs are an increase in bone fractures, specific bacterial infections, reduced absorption of vitamins and minerals from food, reduced effectiveness of other medications, and possibly an increased risk of pneumonia. The other major issue is that your body begins to compensate for the reduced acid production by simply making more stomach acid, effectively locking users into a cycle where they must continue to take the P.P.I. medication.
Depending on the severity of your reflux, below are a few options that you should try in order to treat its symptoms and causes. A healthy diet full of unprocessed foods and an active lifestyle will do wonders.
Sometimes the reflux you experience is not due to too much stomach acid, but not enough. In these instances, your stomach cannot effectively break down food and it begins to push back up. One simple treatment is to mix a tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar with a glass of water. Drink this every morning and see if it alleviates your symptoms.
To help control a hiatal hernia, you can adopt this morning routine: first thing every morning, drink a glass of room-temperature water. Then, slowly rise to your tiptoes and then drop your body as low as you can into a squat position, while keeping your torso upright. You may look like you have lost your mind, but the weight of the water in your empty stomach will actually pull your stomach back into place.
At last, we have found a way to help alleviate many of the symptoms of hiatal hernia through specific therapeutic techniques. By following a specific protocol, therapists trained in Structural Energetic Therapy® will know how to correct the postural imbalance, allowing the diaphragm relax and the stomach settle back where it should be located. After a few sessions, clients report a vast reduction in pain and discomfort, and fewer flare ups of their reflux.