The symptoms of acid reflux can strike suddenly and can afflict anyone from athletes at the top of their game in topnotch physical shape, to young singers and elderly actresses, and even presidents in the oval office. It can disguise itself as many different things including a heart attack and even something as unlikely as a “panic attack.” But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s “only heartburn” because heartburn can turn into something more serious. Let’s look at what ten famous people did to stop acid reflux.
Bubba Watson, 34, talked about his panic attacks in an interview with Golf Magazine last January. The Master’s Champion didn’t know what was causing the episodes, but admits that he had an unhealthy lifestyle and was “eating all the wrong foods”. One sleepless night, Watson thought he was having a heart attack and he headed to the hospital. Doctors looked him over and told him that “everything was normal.” But the feelings of panic continued to make his life miserable and now the golfer believes that his panic attacks were caused by acid reflux disease.
Football legend John Elway, now 53, says that he suffered for years from a persistent “sour taste in his mouth” that had him habitually taking antacids. When they eventually stopped giving him relief, Elway saw a doctor.
Superstar athletes Jim Palmer and Brett Favre have similar stories. Palmer, 67, the legendary pitcher, had acid reflux while playing for the Baltimore Orioles. Years later, his acid reflux became so severe that he lost his voice and feared that he would also lose his job as a TV Commentator. After trying everything from elevating his bed to avoiding foods that would trigger his heartburn, he made an appointment with a gastroenterologist.
Brett Favre, 44, took the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl twice and achieved the amazing record of “starting quarterback with the most season wins.” During all of these triumphs, Favre was often suffering from chronic heartburn. He also went for professional help.
Singers, Songwriters and Actors
Singers Ashlee Simpson, Laura Critchley and Joss Stone all had career threatening voice issues due to acid reflux disease. In 2004, Simpson, then a 20 year old emerging star, lost her voice the day before a scheduled appearance on Saturday Night Live. She was forced to lip sync a pre-recorded version of her song, and in a well-publicized incident, she fumbled on stage. Embarrassed and worried about losing her voice, Simpson went to see a doctor.
British singing sensation Laura Critchley, and soul singer, Joss Stone both sought professional help after they, like Simpson, were unable to sing. Critchley, 29, was ready to perform at Wembley Arena in London in 2007 when acid reflux severely affected her vocal chords. She was on stage, terrified, before an audience of thousands and she could not utter a note. Joss Stone, 26, known for her powerhouse raspy sound, suffered periodically from a painful and burning throat that was caused by a combination of acid reflux and throat nodules. Over time she lost her ability to sing, and was advised by doctors to take a break and rest her vocal chords.
Actress Doris Roberts, 88 and a long-term reflux sufferer, tried everything to gain relief, and after modifying her diet and taking a variety of over the counter medications to no avail, sought the advice of a doctor.
Even presidents are not immune from the onset of acid reflux and can even confuse their symptoms, as Bill Clinton did before his bypass surgery in 2004. Clinton, then 58, started having strong chest pains, which he passed off as bad heartburn. Well known for his love of fast food hamburgers, the former president had frequent heartburn and acid reflux. George W. Bush, 68, also suffers from occasional heartburn. He exercises regularly and watches his diet. To avoid acid reflux, he stays away from “coffee and peppermint”.
How Did They Stop Acid Reflux Symptoms?
So, ten famous people suffering from acid reflux sought professional advice and what were they told? Although we can’t be sure, we suspect that all of them were told to follow the status quo treatment model – daily PPI medications. But did they all follow the doctor’s advice?
Professional Athletes: Pills 3 – Lifestyle Change 1
Bubba Watson says he “hates to take pills” so he hired a “trainer” to help him manage his diet. Jim Palmer feels fine on the medication and believes he is “doing the right thing” by following doctor’s orders. Brett Favre became a spokesman for Prilosec OTC and is open about the fact that “his heartburn is no big deal anymore thanks to his one pill a day”. John Elway feels that he “suffered needlessly for over a decade” and that by taking the prescribed medication, he is keeping his GERD “under control.”
Singers, Songwriters and Actors: Pills 1 – Lifestyle Change 3
From what we can tell three of the four performers did not opt for any medications. Laura Critchley says that she took a long look at her life and decided to change things. She cut out fried and spicy foods, acidic coffee, and late night snacks. Ashlee Simpson and Joss Stone also went on to make diet and lifestyle changes. Simpson elevates her bed at night, which helps keeps stomach acid from rising up. All three singers avoid dairy products and never eat after 9 pm. But Doris Roberts went on prescribed PPIs along with making some dietary changes, and she says they are working well for her.
US Presidents: Pills 0 – Lifestyle Changes 2
And finally, what did the two former presidents decide to do? Neither Bill Clinton nor George W Bush mentioned taking PPIs to handle their acid reflux problem. We know that Bill Clinton gave up cheeseburgers because he became a vegan after his bypass surgery. Both Clinton and Bush keep their weight within a healthy range through regular exercise. Bush also avoids foods, coffee, and peppermint that trigger his acid reflux.
Six out of ten celebrities with severe GERD symptoms chose diet and lifestyle modifications to manage their acid reflux disease. We at RefluxMD applaud the 60% who set an outstanding example on how to treat the underlying cause of the disease and not just the symptoms. As for the others, if you happen to see Jim Palmer, Brett Favre, or Doris Roberts, would you tell them to visit RefluxMD.com, we have some information they really need!