We found Bill recently on Facebook and learning about his path to relief, and we knew we had to hear his full story. Like almost everyone with this disease, Bill’s doctors only offered one treatment plan, PPIs for life. However, his desire for a more natural and healthy approach to symptom relief serves as an example for others seeking an effective path to optimal health.
Bill began to notice periodic heartburn approximately 18 years ago when he was in his early 40s. But according to Bill, his symptoms began to change over time: “ My Early symptoms were just regular heartburn, but over the years both the frequency and intensity increased and then other symptoms developed as well. From time to time I would regurgitate acid into my throat, and it began to wake me up at night; it was affecting my sleep.”
Like so many others who experience heartburn, he self-diagnosed his disease and self- medicated. He turned to over-the-counter antireflux medications to manage his symptoms. “I increased my Tums consumption until I was eating them like candy,” said Bill. However, things were to change as a new symptom caught his attention.
Learn More: Symptoms of acid reflux: GERD 101
Bill’s symptoms force a visit to a specialist
As Bill describes it, something caught his attention: “I had an incident where I choked on something I was eating, and it seemed to stick in my windpipe. My family doctor quickly sent me to a gastroenterologist who performed an endoscopy to examine my esophagus. He told me my esophagus looked normal and healthy, and he put me on a 14-week prescription for Prilosec (a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI) for my heartburn and regurgitation.”
At the end of the 14-week period, Bill mentioned to his doctor that he didn’t want to continue to take the PPI daily, but his GI insisted that he remain on a dosage of one 15mg pill daily. According to Bill, his symptoms were managed by PPIs initially; “At first, the PPIs were effective, but after 24 months I developed a rash and my GI switched me to another PPI, Prevacid. This required me to take two pills a day, and even at that dose, it was still not effective in managing my symptoms.”
Bill learn more about acid reflux relief
“My path to relief was a desperate internet search,” said Bill, “at which time I stumbled upon RefluxMD.com. It was there that I learned the dangers of PPIs and, that even if all symptoms were controlled long-term, I could still develop esophageal cancer. My GI never seemed concerned about the long-term daily use of PPIs and, and he never mentioned any health risks or potential problems.”
Bill discovered that powerful antireflux medications were not the only treatment for GERD. Bill is 5’ 5” and at that time he weighed 178 pounds, with a BMI of 29.6, almost obese. An article on RefluxMD, How excess weight is destroying your lower esophageal sphincter (and driving your GERD symptoms), started him on a new path to relief. He decided to change his diet, lose weight, and make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce his symptoms. “I knew that I had to lose my 25 pounds and improve my diet/lifestyle (raised bed, small meal portions, no caffeine, etc.,) said Bill. “I decided to back off of my PPIs and determine if I really had a problem with my LES or if it was simply due to poor diet and eating habits.”
Bill designed his diet plan by himself: “My weight loss program revolved around eating smaller meals 4 or 5 times a day, elimination of trigger foods, plenty of exercise (30 miles of hiking weekly), and making the necessary lifestyle changes. It was hard to do this all at once and it wasn’t quick; it took me about 15 months to lose 25 pounds. However, my GERD symptoms began to subside as the weight came off. I now think my situation was caused by fat pushing on my abdomen, and PPI use was contributing to the problems since my stomach was just was not functioning well.”
Learn More: How MJ found acid reflux relief
Bill’s path to acid reflux relief was a success
Today, at 58, Bill is 153 pounds with a BMI of 25.5 and he only experiences GERD symptoms occasionally if he overeats. “I currently have no symptoms when I stick to my new “lifestyle”, but I am going to schedule another endoscopy in another year just to make sure there has been no additional disease progression.
According to Bill, his outlook on life has changed for the better: “Eighteen months ago I felt sick and I was constantly tired because reflux was affecting my sleep. I could not enjoy any food and I began to wonder if this was going to be as good as it gets for the rest of my life. Today I feel healthy and symptom-free; in fact, my wife and I are going to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon this coming September. I could never have even considered that 18 months ago.”
Learn More: Five step to an effective acid reflux diet
Bill’s recommendations to those with GERD
“Remember this: you have a serious condition that can cause more serious health problems over time, but don’t despair. Get healthy – if you are overweight like me, lose weight. Make all the necessary lifestyle changes and enjoy your life again!”
Congratulations Bill on finding your path to relief, and thank you for sharing your journey with others. If your weight is driving your acid reflux symptoms, RefluxMD wants to help you with Scale Down for Relief.