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Treating Acid Reflux with Osteopathic Medicine
Acid reflux is a digestive condition that occurs when stomach acid (or sometimes bile) flows up into the esophagus causing irritation of the lining. Acid reflux normally wouldn’t happen because the valve between your stomach and throat is supposed to be completely closed and when this doesn’t happen, symptoms can occur.
Although common in the general population, if people are experiencing the signs and symptoms of acid reflux more than once a week or if it has begun to disturb their everyday life, it becomes known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
The symptoms of acid reflux most often include heartburn (a pain or discomfort resembling a burning feeling anywhere from your stomach to your throat) and a bitter and/or sour taste caused by acid backing up into your throat or even mouth (regurgitation).
Burping, bloating, nausea, hiccups, sore throat, unexplained weight loss and a feeling of food getting stuck while swallowing are reported as well. Sometimes, people with severe acid reflux will vomit blood or have stools that are black and bloody.
There are many causes of acid reflux and multiple factors that increase your chances of developing it. Being overweight, pregnant or a smoker can make you susceptible and some people find that eating certain types of foods (spicy, citrus, chocolate, fatty), drinking carbonated or alcoholic beverages, eating a large meal, snacking before bed or taking certain medications such as aspirin can trigger their own acid reflux.
Because acid reflux stems from the fact that the valve responsible for sealing off the stomach from the esophagus isn’t closing completely, osteopathy can help restore normal function to that ring of muscle, resulting in a decrease or elimination of symptoms which allows the afflicted to enjoy the foods and activities that had previously triggered their acid reflux symptoms.
Elissa Gustafson, DOMP and Carolyn Smith, DOMP are manual osteopaths located in Ottawa who have helped multiple patients with acid reflux.