It was a great night on the town with plenty of pizza and beer, tacos with lots of salsa, plenty of jalapenos, ribs with sauce that just seem to melt in your mouth and cinnamon glazed apple pie. Oh, what a night!
Then it all happened shortly after you return home. A burning feeling in the chest, burning in the throat, chest pain, topped off with a hot, sour, acidic taste in the back of your throat. A feeling, maybe, of food sticking in the middle of your chest and throat. What could all this mean?
My friend, you may be entering the world of heartburn or GERD. It is an occurrence that many of us have and suffer with quite often. Off we run to our medicine cabinet for relief. Let's see, what gave me the best relief the last time? Was it the Tums or Alka-Seltzer. Ah, here's the Maalox, but I do have Pepto-Bismol. Such big decisions to make!
We all seem to like our spicy foods, and with some, no problem. But for others it is a big problem, and if the condition persists time and time again, you should think of seeing your physician. The older we get, things like heartburn have a good chance of happening. Many of the over-the-counter type medicines I mentioned are classified as antacids and temporarily do the job. But again, antacids should be taken as ordered by your doctor. Most of us don't do that, though, do we?
Then there are the so-called acid blockers, some of which do not need a prescription. They include Pepcid AC, TagametHB or Zantac75. After trying one or all of these and symptoms seem to hang around, your doctor just may try other drugs to reduce the stomach's acid including Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec or maybe Protonix.
Why do I mention all of this, which seems so boring to most of you? Because I have gone the route with all of the above medicines and seem to still have the problem. The acid reducers are sometimes in question due to certain side effects that I won't even get into.
I am now looking at a list of foods before me that could, in fact, produce heartburn. They say that foods to avoid include such goodies as orange juice, lemonade, tomato juice and cranberry juice. Raw onion and our good old friend the french fry are also no-nos. In the meat class, buffalo wings, ground beef, chicken nuggets and marbled sirloin should be avoided. In the dairy group, sour cream, milk shakes, cottage cheese and even ice cream. How dare they! Beverages include liquor and wine, coffee and tea - either regular or decaf. Other items include most salad dressings, desserts and treats that include butter cookies, brownies, chocolate, doughnuts, corn chips and potato chips. That sure is a big list of our favorites to stay away from, don't you think?
For those who have heartburn or GERD or acid reflux problems, the one big fear in all of this is the danger of esophagus cancer that is always lurking about. Every year, there are more than 13,000 people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer and more than 12,000 die of it. Acid reflex is a very big risk factor for this cancer. If you are in this risk category and are having a lot of problems, please see a gastroenterologist, who will likely perform a upper endoscopy, which is a procedure that allows the doctor to look inside your esophagus and stomach.
Good food is to be enjoyed, and it appears that spicier seems better most of the time. We all need to learn what our system can tolerate. If we listen to our bodies, perhaps we could enjoy the night on the town just as well without all that spicy food and drink. OK ... almost as well!
The statistics in this column are from WebMD.