Monday, September 12, 2005

Salty Reflux

I suffer from GERD, that is Gastro-esophageal reflux disease. Commonly called acid indigestion, my disease has developed to the point of having a more of less permanent "lump" feeling in my throat. Without treatment, chronic GERD can lead to serious damage to the esophagus including cancer. There are medications to treat this, namely the proton-pump inhibitors which I take daily.

I'm not looking for a Waaabulance award, but to set the stage for this.

I ran across an artcle from Dr. Dean Edell on GERD. The standard perscription is to avoid coffee, alcohol and spicy foods. In other words, just kill me.

Turns out there may be more to it:
Smoking and a high dietary salt intake significantly increase the risk of acid reflux, but tea and alcohol, often thought to be culprits, seem to have little impact, finds a large study in Gut.


The research team based their work on 47,556 people, who had taken part in two major public health surveys in Nord-Trondelag, a county in Norway.


Lifestyle was strongly linked to acid reflux symptoms. People who had smoked every day for more than 20 years were 70% more likely to have acid reflux than non-smokers.

Salt intake proved to be as great a risk factor. Those who routinely added salt to meals were also 70% more likely to have acid reflux than those who did not. And those who ate salted meat or fish three or more times a week were 50% more likely to have acid reflux than those who never ate these foods.


Surprisingly, heavy coffee drinkers (around 7 cups a day) were also around 40% less likely to develop acid reflux than those who drank one or fewer cups a day. However, the authors point out that people with acid reflux might abstain from coffee drinking, which could potentially skew the results.
Wow. I don't smoke, so check that. I do like salt and prepared meats (sodium nitrates and such). This explains alot.

Take it from someone now living with an uncomfortable throat, if you suffer from acid indigestion more than once a week, stop smoking, chill on the salt, and see your doctor.


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