The most frequent inquiry we receive is not easy to answer: “Please help me find symptom relief.” All too often we learn that GERD suffers either self-diagnosed or were diagnosed by their family doctor, suggesting that there may be an alternative cause for their symptoms. As in the situation below, the potential for symptom relief and reduced risk of disease progression is much higher if early symptoms are recognized and a safe and natural treatment plan is adopted early.
After weeks of constant stress I just started burping, which resulted in a diagnoses of GERD in 2015. I was put on a PPI by my GP, which didn’t relieve my stomach symptoms; He then recommended more medications to treat H pylori, which really upset my stomach. After that treatment I took a series of Yakult probiotics to replenish my gut flora, and this seemed to help a little. I was then put on Ranitidine PPI, which I took for 4 months. I lost 14 kg and felt fatigue everyday, so I reduced my use of that PPI to a half-tablet daily and then weaned myself off them completely.
I started to feel good after another month and resumed my normal diet. About a year later I was under severe stress and my burping and chest pains reoccurred. In fact, I even burped all night and was unable to sleep. As a result I have reverted back to a GERD diet and I am taking 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals. I hope you can help me with some suggestions.
- Symptoms: heartburn, chest pain
- Endoscopy diagnosis: NO
- GERD stage: Not sure
- BMI: excessively overweight (27 – 30)
Thank you for sending us your question and we are very happy you are becoming more engaged and aggressive in treating your disease. As you have learned, the status quo response from the medical community is “take a pill”, but that treatment plan has many risks and pitfalls.
Do you even have GERD?
Certainly your symptoms (chest pains and burping) could be a result of GERD, however, chest pain can be a result of several other conditions, including some that are related to your heart. When chest pains are the predominant symptom, we always recommend testing for coronary issues before exploring GERD treatment. Also, the symptoms of H pylori, which you experienced in the past, can be confused with those of GERD.
Since you did not have an endoscopy, it appears that your family doctor or a primary care physician diagnosed your GERD. These physicians can only diagnose via a symptom discussion because they are unable to perform any testing to confirm GERD as the diagnosis. More importantly, if they are correct with their GERD diagnosis, they are unable to test for advanced issues like esophagitis, strictures, or precancerous conditions like Barrett’s esophagus. We highly recommend that you visit a specialist to have the necessary testing to confirm a GERD diagnosis before selecting any plan to treat acid reflux disease.
Were PPIs the right treatment plan?
After you lost 14 kg of weight (30 pounds) you were able to wean off of your daily PPIs and began to “feel good”. Your weight loss may have resulted in reduced symptoms and/or there is a possibility that you didn’t need the PPIs in the first place; we can’t be sure. You would not be the first to be placed on PPIs unnecessarily. In a recent article, Dr. Emily McDonald, an internal medicine specialist at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said: “There are studies showing about 40 per cent of patients don’t have an evidence-based reason to be taking a proton pump inhibitor and that a lot of patients haven’t tried other alternative therapies such as lifestyle modifications or medications that aren’t as strong, or ones that have fewer side-effects.” The fact that you were able wean off the PPI medication and you were satisfied with your symptom control is a very good sign. As we highlight frequently in our articles, there is an increased risk of several side affects as a result of using PPIs daily over a long-term. Some adults suffering with GERD need them, but many can manage their symptoms with a safer, more natural approach.
Your diet and excessive weight may be underlying factors
Although we can’t be certain, the fact that your current BMI is between 27 and 30, and you realized symptom relief after losing weight in the past, it is possible that weight loss, diet modifications, and some lifestyle changes should help you reduce or eliminate your symptoms. For those with a BMI of between 24 and 27 we recommend a gradual weight loss program via diet modification as offered in RefluxMD’s Recipe for Relief. As BMI gets further away from a target of 24, we encourage a more rapid weight loss approach. If you would like to learn more about our program, go to our page, Scale Down for Relief.
Find your GERD Stage at RefluxMD
You mentioned that you did not know your GERD stage in the background data you provided to us. We know that treatment plans are highly dependent upon where you are with your disease. We encourage you to complete our 9-question online Stage Finder and then download your free personalized 18-page report. You will find many recommendations on diet, lifestyle and medications in the report, and you may find answers to many of your questions.
I hope this helps and we wish you much success in developing your path to relief and good health!