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Rearrange Your Residence for Reflux Relief

Rearrange Your Residence before Reflux Surgery in DallasEach of our decisions is influenced by the world around us. Whether you realize it or not, your environment can have a strong impact on your behavior, especially when it comes to your diet and exercise habits. Because of this, surrounding yourself with a healthy environment can be a big help in controlling GERD and symptoms like acid reflux, and nowhere is this more possible than in your own home.

Though your GERD surgeon can help you put an end to your symptoms for good with reflux surgery, reassessing your household can be a tremendous help in staying pain-free in the meantime. To turn your home into a reflux-free place to be, start by:

Clearing Out Your Triggers

If you suffer from GERD, you’ve probably already identified many foods that spark your symptoms, but many common reflux triggers are staples of the American diet. Cheese, ice cream and other high-fat dairy products; soda, coffee and alcohol; chocolate, mint and citrus; tomatoes, peppers and onions—if these foods and others cause you problems, then they have no place in your kitchen, so get rid of them before you accidentally indulge.

Sort through every cabinet, drawer and shelf. Go through your fridge, pantry and freezer. Anything that may prompt your symptoms will be better off far away from you. Of course, your reflux triggers may also be favorite treats of other people who reside in your home, so if your spouse, roommate or children object to the removal of these items, simply ask that they be kept somewhere far from your view.

Making Healthy Habits Easier

Once all your triggers are gone, you can start filling your kitchen with foods that put you at no risk of reflux. Ask Dr. Ihde which foods will be best for your diet and make them easily accessible. Good choices may include high-fiber whole grains, low-acid fruits, fresh vegetables and low-fat proteins, while common reflux remedies like ginger, aloe vera and Tums may also be worth keeping around. Keep the best foods front and center in your fridge and pantry to make them the first things grabbed when you need a snack.

Exercise is also valuable in addressing GERD, but heavy weight lifting, abdominal exercises and high impact activities like running can trigger or worsen acid reflux for many people. You can arrange your home to make it easier to participate in gentle exercises with little risk of sparking GERD symptoms. Do your best to learn which activities are most likely to cause you acid reflux and consider investing in fitness DVDs and light resistance gear that help you stay active without the pain of heartburn.

There are many ways to help yourself avoid reflux at home, but reflux surgery is the only way to permanently rid yourself of symptoms. For more strategies on avoiding acid reflux and heartburn, talk to your GERD surgeon.

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Stay Positive to Beat Heartburn

Reflux surgery and positivity can help you overcome GERDLiving with acid reflux can be frustrating. When the discomfort of heartburn and indigestion comes back day after day, it can make it hard to continue participating in activities with your friends and family. Like other people who suffer chronic pain, you soon find that most people don’t understand the pain you are in or the effect it has on your life. This makes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) capable of causing depression in addition to its painful symptoms.

If you’ve experienced GERD firsthand, you may already know the influence that the condition can have on your mood. Those who suffer from chronic pain are three times more likely to develop depression or another psychiatric issue, while those who struggle with depression are three times more likely to experience some kind of chronic pain. Though reflux surgery can help you end this cycle, living with GERD and depression can make the problems of each one worse.

Maintaining a good attitude can be a huge help as you get ready for reflux surgery or work to manage symptoms on your own. Though a bad mood can make acid reflux hard to handle, a good mood can have the opposite effect. To keep your head up as you deal with acid reflux in Dallas, start by:

  • Relaxing. Both depression and GERD can feel especially overwhelming if you’re constantly too busy to take a moment’s rest. Though acid reflux symptoms can slow us down and make us feel rushed to catch up, taking time to relax is crucial to your health. Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night and dedicate some time each day to relaxation practices like yoga, progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing.
  • Doing the things you love. The pain of GERD can make even the things you enjoy seem hard to handle, but engaging your interests is a surefire way to lift your spirits. Even if you aren’t in the mood, pushing yourself to do some of your favorite activities can help to push you out of a funk. Take an afternoon to visit your favorite museum or park. Spend an hour after work painting, writing or playing music or sports. The things we love can be a hugely upbeat influence.
  • Staying social. When we’re depressed or in pain, we may want nothing more than to curl up and feel sorry for ourselves. Unfortunately, this won’t do you any good. You may want to avoid social situations like the plague, but retreating from your friends and family will likely only worsen your mood. Just spending time with others can help you deal with depression, while you can also take the opportunity to vent about what you’re going through. The support of others can be very valuable, especially those who are unfailingly optimistic.

It’s true: acid reflux can be depressing. But you don’t have to let the symptoms of GERD worsen your mood, or vice versa. Talk to your GERD surgeon about the help of reflux surgery and do your best to stay positive even in times of pain.

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Holiday Heartburn

Is all you want for Christmas to be heartburn free? It might be time to talk to your GERD surgeon about reflux surgery.

Holiday Heartburn

The holidays are historically a time of overindulgence. Between weekly holiday potlucks, dessert tables loaded with seasonal delights and fattening food staples we only bring out this time of year (eggnog, hot chocolate, etc.), it is no surprise why for many people the nightmare before Christmas is really heartburn.

Reflux surgery can help you enjoy your favorite holiday treats again, but you will need to refrain from overdoing it even after getting treatment for acid reflux from your GERD surgeon. There are heartburn triggers lurking on every holiday table, and if you aren’t taking the time to decipher what is healthy and what is a recipe for disaster, you could find yourself saying “bah humbug” instead of “ho ho ho”.

Here are a few tips to help you reduce heartburn this holiday season:

  • Hold off on the alcohol. A potluck buffet can put enough stress on your digestive system. Don’t add to the problem by relaxing your lower esophageal sphincter with alcohol. When you drink alcohol the LES will not act as promptly as it should, and the result could be a night of reflux for you.
  • Avoid chocolate. Much like alcohol, chocolate can relax the LES and cause you to experience worsened heartburn. It can be hard to avoid chocolate altogether this time of year, but do your best to limit your indulgence.
  • Focus on stress management. The holidays often become excessively stressful—especially when you get caught up in the gift-buying mayhem. Stress negatively impacts digestive health and can worsen your heartburn and reflux if you aren’t careful. Do your best to keep calm, take deep breaths and remember the true spirit of the holidays.

If your heartburn is bothering you more than three times a week, you are likely struggling with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This develops when the lower esophageal sphincter or LES becomes damaged and doesn’t close properly, allowing stomach acid to backwash into the esophagus.

When this happens, reflux surgery is the only way to successfully overcome the frequent nuisance of acid reflux and heartburn. The above strategies can’t cure GERD, but they can lessen the intensity of acid reflux and even reduce the frequency of heartburn by limiting the amount of stress put on the LES.

Aside from these helpful tips, getting acid reflux treatment from your GERD surgeon can help you to enjoy your holidays heartburn-free this year.

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Eat Slowly for Heartburn Relief

Along with reflux surgery, taking time to eat slowly can help you control acid reflux symptoms

Reflux surgery and slower eating can help you resolve heartburn

Though acid reflux can come from what we eat, it can also come from how fast we eat. We live in a world where everyone seems to be on the go, especially here in Dallas, but the speed of microwave-ready meals and drive-thru menus can play as big a role in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as the unhealthy ingredients they contain.

Did you know that the digestion process begins as soon as we start to chew our food? Saliva coats each bite in digestive enzymes that start to break things down before they reach your stomach, taking some of the burden off of your stomach. When fast-paced eating allows food to make it to the stomach without time to be properly chewed and broken down, indigestion and heartburn may be the result.

Slowing down to enjoy each meal can help you prevent heartburn, but it can also take some of the stress out of eating in a rush. Whether you’re considering a visit to a GERD surgeon or have already had reflux surgery, taking time for each meal can help you improve your digestive health and relax more at mealtime. Take at least 20 minutes to sit and enjoy each meal and use the time to slow down and re-energize yourself for the rest of the day’s challenges.

Reflux surgery can help you beat GERD, but so can taking time to eat slower by:

  • Getting rid of distractions. If you eat in front of the TV or computer or scarf down meals as you drive, your diverted attention may lead to unintentionally fast face stuffing. Take your mind off technology and responsibilities for a few minutes and focus your attention on food in front of you. Instead of zoning out, take time to notice the flavor, texture and smell of each bite.
  • Cutting down on portions. Try filling your plate with a smaller portion and eating it at a gradual pace, then going back for seconds if needed. Because it takes time for our bellies to tell our brains they’re full, taking your meal in waves of lighter portions can help you avoid overeating.
  • Being the tortoise instead of the hare. Slow and steady will always win the race to beat heartburn, so try to be the last to finish your meal when eating in a group. If you notice others eating at a slower pace, take a moment to put down the fork and enjoy the conversation.

Eating slow can help you avoid the painful symptoms of GERD, but it can also help you enjoy every bite more. Whether you hope to soothe your heartburn or have already sought your GERD surgeon’s help with reflux surgery, slower eating can be a boon for your digestive health and your relationship with food.

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Trick Your Acid Reflux or Treat It!

Reflux Surgery To Avoid Heartburn this HalloweenAfter getting reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth, you can look forward to enjoying simple treats again—isn’t that a great trick?

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it will be thousands of children and young-at-heart adults dressed up in their best costumes and knocking on your door for a scrumptious treat.

Before you get reflux surgery, you might dread this fun-filled holiday. For many families, Halloween is what kick starts the holiday season. It starts with bite-sized chocolate bars and ends with tin after tin of sugar cookies. The rest of this year might prove stressful as the excess food, chocolate and fatty treats exacerbate heartburn–and it all starts with one night in October.

Don’t spend another Halloween hiding from the candy bowl! Ask your GERD surgeon about reflux surgery options that will help you finally overcome your heartburn.

Even after reflux surgery, chocolaty treats aren’t the healthiest foods to indulge in. A few small bites of chocolate in moderation are often okay, but those bite-sized goodies can add up quickly. As you well know, eating too much can spell heartburn if you aren’t careful—excess weight on the abdomen adds pressure to the stomach and can disturb the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) from doing its job correctly.

Chocolate is known as a heartburn trigger food, and unfortunately the reason it often leads to acid reflux is the same reason we crave the treat so much. Chocolate acts as a mild antidepressant. When we are stressed, sad or even feeling bored, chocolate has the ability to perk us up and help us feel better—even if only for a brief moment. This same antidepressant can cause the LES to relax, thus permitting stomach acids to backwash into the esophagus.

For those who already have a damaged LES, just a few bites chocolate can make the difference between an okay evening and night filled with heartburn and acid reflux. In those who have a healthy LES, or have undergone reflux surgery to have their LES repaired, a few bites of chocolate don’t come with such drastic consequences.

If you are awaiting reflux surgery, your GERD surgeon might recommend that you stay away from chocolate to avoid serious heartburn trouble. This Halloween, try filling your house with treats that won’t trouble your heartburn, like gummy bears, Twizzlers and candy corn.

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The Power of Posture: Straighten Out to Beat GERD

Beat GERD with good posture and reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. WorthIf you’ve recently had reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth, you’ve probably struggled with GERD for a long time. Many people suffer from serious GERD symptoms for years before seeking a long-term solution like reflux surgery, choosing instead to find symptomatic relief by correcting poor habits and eliminating potentially problematic foods.

While it’s very true that lifestyle factors like diet, stress, excess weight and the use of alcohol and tobacco can all be huge contributors to GERD, there is one other factor that many reflux sufferers may not consider– their posture. Slouching can put extra pressure on your stomach and keep the esophagus at an improper angle. This lack of a straight path between the stomach and esophagus can cause your esophageal muscles to spasm, blocking in gas and acid and causing coughing, chest pain and all the other unpleasant symptoms of GERD you know so well.

Poor posture may not be the root cause of your GERD—and correcting it should not be viewed as an alternative to treatments like reflux surgery—but keeping a proper posture can help many GERD sufferers reduce their symptoms.

Here’s why bad posture can have such a huge effect on GERD:

  • When you’re sitting slouched, your head, shoulders and chest can weigh heavily on your abdomen. The extra pressure can force stomach contents up into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), while not having a straight esophagus makes it difficult to release gas by burping.
  • When you’re standing slouched, poor posture can cause your esophagus to twist. As gas builds up with no way to be released through the mouth, the pressure in your abdomen will increase, causing reflux symptoms.

Stand Tall, Sit Tall, Beat GERD

If your mother or 3rd grade teacher constantly nagged you to sit up straight, you may be starting to realize what a big favor they were trying to do you. Many of us slouch without realizing it. We spend hours slumped in front of a computer at work only to go home and slouch in front of the TV some more. Whether you’re sitting, standing or sleeping, it’s best to try to stay as straight as possible to create an easy passage between the esophagus and stomach.

Unfortunately, as is evidenced by nagging mothers and 3rd grade teachers everywhere, it isn’t always easy to maintain the proper posture. Even if you set out to stay plank-straight all day, you may inevitably lapse into a lounge when your attention shifts to something else.

Though consulting a physical therapist or chiropractor may help you improve your posture, the most effective way to start sitting straighter is to exercise. By strengthening the muscles that control your posture, you’ll find yourself effortlessly standing and sitting straighter. Just about any exercise from ballroom dancing to sit-ups will help, but remember–to avoid exacerbating symptoms, you should speak with your GERD surgeon before jumping into a new workout.

How else can we improve our posture and beat GERD? Share your tips, experiences and questions with us in the comments below.

 

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That’s No Allergy

Many people find themselves avoiding foods thanks to a misdiagnosed food allergy, when they could find relief from heartburn and acid reflux with transoral surgery in Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Acid reflux isn't always from a food allergy--you may need transoral surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth

It’s estimated that about 50 percent of self-reported food allergies are incorrect. Food allergies are a complicated business, and they can take a long time to properly diagnose. Unfortunately, people who attribute certain symptoms to a food and begin eliminating foods out of fear of an allergy might be skirting around a greater health concern, like gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Acid reflux, heartburn and general indigestion are common ailments reported among those claiming to be allergic to one food or another. However, these symptoms also can develop as a result of a medical condition, and are not always attributable to a dietary problem. While heartburn and acid reflux often develop among obese individuals and commonly affect people after they eat spicy foods or oversized meals, the symptoms can also affect healthy people when they’ve eaten nothing out of the ordinary. As we discussed in a previous blog post, reflux symptoms can even affect Olympic athletes.

Many people incorrectly attribute their heartburn and acid reflux to food allergies. While it makes sense to avoid foods that incite particularly bad bouts of heartburn, experiencing that type of reaction to those foods isn’t typical of a food allergy.

Common symptoms of a food allergy include:

  • Hives
  • Itchy skin, rash or eczema
  • Swelling around the face or tongue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea, vomiting or nausea
  • Fainting, dizziness or feeling lightheaded

The harm in misdiagnosing a food allergy is that your symptoms could be indicating a larger problem, and your assumption that the issue is a food allergy could be delaying pertinent treatment. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, making dietary adjustments will often help reduce the amount of acid reflux and heartburn you experience. Small lifestyle changes like this, however, will not completely eradicate your symptoms or resolve the issue. When GERD is the problem, the only true solution is reflux surgery to repair the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). No amount of dietary elimination will repair the LES for you.

There are plenty of people who do have legitimate food allergies, but that doesn’t mean your problems are the result of one. If you think you have a food allergy, then see a doctor. There are numerous tests that can determine if the problem you are experiencing is from dietary causes or is the result of something else.

 

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Just Breathe Acid Reflux Away

Breathing exercises can provide relief from acid reflux and heartburn, especially when coupled with transoral surgery in Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Treat heartburn with transoral surgery and a deep breath

Have you ever been told to take a deep breath after a stressful situation? It’s kind of strange advice, isn’t it? After all, were you really going to forget to breathe? Well, when it comes to finding acid reflux relief the question might not be forgetting to breathe as much as how you are breathing.

A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that breathing exercises are beneficial as a complementary treatment to reflux surgery. The focus of this study wasn’t on breathing in the nose and out the mouth, as so many deep breathing exercises are. Instead, participants were asked to focus on their abdomen as they did deep belly-breathing exercises to reduce the prevalence of GERD.

Researchers were interested in how deep breathing exercises might impact the health of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscular valve that prevents stomach acid from entering the esophagus. When the LES is impaired, digestive juices can flow freely into the esophagus, irritating the esophageal lining and causing irritation. Researchers were curious if diaphragmatic contractions during deep breathing exercises could impact or even benefit the LES, thus reducing acid reflux.

It’s Time to Take a Breath

We are all breathing, but sometimes we don’t breathe as deeply or fully as we should. Deep breathing exercises increase your awareness of how you are breathing and will encourage you to take fuller breaths regularly.

To try a deep breathing exercise, lie on your back and gently place your hands on your stomach. As you inhale, feel the air enter your stomach as it expands beneath your hands. Continue inhaling as long as you can and hold your breath briefly before exhaling completely. You might notice your chest moving up and down as you breathe, but do your best to push all of your air into your stomach. This is a form of diaphragmatic breathing, and it is the type of breathing that researchers say can potentially improve your heartburn symptoms.

In the study at Medical University Graz in Austria, a small sample of participants were given hour-long instruction on how to do deep breathing exercises like the one above, and were asked to continue those exercises regularly. After four weeks, those who participated in the breathing exercises experienced a 9.1 percent decrease in the prevalence of their acid reflux, while those who did not do the deep breathing exercises only experienced a 4.7 percent decrease.

Breathing exercises aren’t meant to replace GERD treatments like reflux surgery, but might complement an existing acid reflux treatment program. Those who did the breathing exercises reported an increased quality of life after four weeks, and after nine months of doing the exercises participants reported even further improvement in both their quality of life and health.

You are already breathing! Why not give a deep breathing exercise a try to see if it impacts your GERD symptoms? If you do, let us know how it goes in a comment below!

 

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Going Herbal for Reflux Relief

Use herbal remedies or reflux surgery to resolve heartburn in Dallas & Ft. WorthLong before pharmaceutical companies began patenting medicines and our reflux surgery knowledge progressed to the minimally invasive surgery and transoral surgical techniques we now rely on, people with acid reflux turned to herbal supplements to ease their pain. For thousands of years, herbal supplements were regarded as medicines and were used to treat everything, including the common cold, war wounds and of course heartburn.

As years have passed we’ve come to understand how acid reflux develops, why certain medications work better than others and why reflux surgery is often the only solution for those with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With this knowledge comes insight as to why the herbal supplements of the past aren’t relied upon any more, but the fact that they once were so crucial to medical science gives a lot of people hope that these herbs can bring added relief to their burning esophagus now.

GERD is often caused by a dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve separating the base of the esophagus from the stomach. When the LES works properly, the valve opens to allow swallowed food to pass safely to the stomach, then closes abruptly. When the LES becomes damaged or weakened it might not close correctly, allowing digestive juices from the stomach to backwash out of the valve and irritate the esophagus. When a problem with the LES develops reflux surgery is the only solution, though current means of transoral surgery in Dallas and Ft. Worth make the procedure much less invasive.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an herbal supplement that will correct a dysfunctional LES. However, there is a reason these supplements were used for so many years. Certain herbs and spices have ingredients in them that can calm the stomach, provide mild anti-inflammatory benefits and even ease pain.

Herbal supplements aren’t going to cure your heartburn, but they might enhance your existing treatment plan. Here are a few ‘herbs of old’ with heartburn relief potential:

  • Barberry: This is a shrub with alkaloids that are supposed to boost immune function. Barberry extracts are also said to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Devil’s Claw: This herb is highly respected as a complementary treatment for acid reflux, as it is known to ease the stomach and lessen acidity.
  • Chamomile: A favorite tea for easing common colds and flu, chamomile is also used to treat abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, nausea and heartburn.
  • Aloe Vera: You might use aloe vera to ease sunburn, so maybe it won’t come as a surprise that the herb can sooth heartburn and treat ulcers.

Other common herbs and supplements used to treat acid reflux include bromelain (which is present in pineapples), artichokes and probiotic supplements, like those found in yogurts. Don’t add any of these supplements to your diet without first talking to your GERD surgeon.

 

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Prevent GERD & Get a Raise by Getting Fit

What do your paycheck and GERD have in common? They might both benefit from a bit of exercise.

Prevent GERD in Dallas or Ft. Worth & get a raise by getting fit

Forget pumping iron: you might be pumping for more green. At least, that’s what one study from Cleveland State University found. People who exercise at least three times a week make about 10 percent more than those who are inactive. This was true regardless of other health factors, even BMI, so being in definably “good shape” wasn’t the cause of the salary boost.

Exercise is a tricky business when you have GERD. You know that exercise helps you lose weight, which reduces the amount of pressure on your stomach and lower esophageal sphincter (LES). However, going for a vigorous run or doing an activity like push-ups can sometimes trigger acid reflux. When you are suffering from GERD it is sometimes hard to figure out what your best move is—even when you are mentally prepared to get out and be active.

Surgical techniques like Nissen fundoplication can repair damage to the LES, making it possible for GERD sufferers to work out without the interference of heartburn, but until then there are plenty of ways you can work out without aggravating GERD.

The Cleveland State University study found that the salary benefits of being more active came when participants engaged in moderate activity at least three days out of the week. Numerous studies about exercise-induced heartburn found that moderate activity doesn’t affect GERD as much as vigorous activities like running. That means walking, biking and swimming are all realistic options for people with GERD, even before getting corrective treatment like nissen fundoplication.

But why is there a salary boost connected to exercise levels, you ask? Past studies have linked regular exercise with increased intelligence, as well as a more positive attitude and heightened energy levels—all factors that can increase your performance, productivity and likability in the workplace. Working out regularly can make you feel better, which can make you work better, and that may lead to a boost in your pay check.

If finding relief from heartburn wasn’t enough of a reason to get active and lose weight, then maybe the potential of landing a promotion or getting a better position will be the motivation you need to get moving. On average, the amount of income differentiated between those who worked out regularly and those who were sedentary was only about $80 a week, but that adds up to several thousand dollars every year.

Between the health effects of exercising and losing weight for your heartburn and acid reflux, the mental benefits like improved alertness and clarity of mind, and the apparent financial benefits of working out regularly, you might be hard pressed to find an excuse to skip your next workout.

 

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