Heartburn and acidity appear to be everyone’s favorite disease.
Apparently harmless. Drugs easily available even without prescription.
This silent epidemic is more dangerous than it is given credit for.
A Few Stats about Reflux
Up to 60% of Americans may have at least one symptom of acid reflux during a 1 year period.
33% of Americans have persistent GERD .That makes it one of the commonest gastrointestinal problems.
Healthcare costs per year are upward 10 billion dollars per year.This includes both prescription medicines and OTC’s.
Acid reflux is thus easily the most expensive gastrointestinal disease affecting Americans.
For Indians, it is the National disease .7.6% of Indians have significant GERD symptoms at least once a week .(source)
The prevalence of GERD was 22.2 % in South India(Source).
Acid Reflux; everyone has it
So what’s the problem?
The discomfort is just the tip of the iceberg.
The real problem is what happens to your esophagus or food pipe with regular, splashes of acid.
Imagine when acid is dropped on the floor, regularly at one spot.
The discolouration and textural changes happening there reflect what happens in your food pipe.
The normal lining mucosa of the food pipe gradually changes. There is a real risk esophageal cancer.
How Dangerous is Late Night Eating?
Single most important lifestyle change , which can improve acid reflux is your dinner time.
As high as 50 % of people in a survey have complained of experiencing higher episodes of reflux at night.
This is important.
With our lives getting busier the end of the day meal is often quite late.
It is also one of the heaviest meals.
For you to be healthy, this has to be turned upside down.
The main factor is your dinner time
Dinner and bedtime should have a minimum gap of 3 hours.
During this time you should be sitting upright.
Sitting and standing allows gravity to work on the food and acid and keeps it in the stomach for digestion.
After 3 hours as the food travels from the stomach to the intestine the chance of reflux drastically reduces.
Try to have dinner by 7 pm and no later than 8 pm.
Late night tea, coffee, desserts are definitely not a part of the plan.
Why should you stop eating late at night?
With great medicines available why should you even bother?
Medicines work.Most of the time
Sometimes they may not.Especially for chronic cases of GERD, we find that even twice a day doses may not work, without lifestyle changes.
The constant burning sensation, sleepless nights, hoarseness, persistent cough happens, with poor control of acid reflux symptoms.
Medicines are a support system to help you get back in track with a healthier lifestyle.
Otherwise, even with increasing drugs, your problems continue.
So make a pledge.Try eating earlier.
Your heaviest meal should be your breakfast.
The lightest meal the last one; dinner.
The amount of money you will save by this one sincere change in your daily habits should be an added bonus to make this change.
Esophageal adenocarcinoma is more common than squamous cell carcinoma in the USA.
Asians are increasingly showing an upward swing in the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma.
The upswing is associated with changing dietary habits and lifestyle choices.
Barrett’s esophagitis: diagnosed typically in men in their 50’s.
Caucasian males are more commonly affected with this potentially premalignant condition.
Direct correlation between Esophageal adenocarcinoma and Barrett’s esophagitis has not been proved conclusively.
However GERD, acid reflux, heartburn whatever name you call it, it’s still the devil in disguise.
Irritating and potentially dangerous symptom, which can be zapped by your lifestyle change.
Eat dinner earlier and sleep peacefully at night.
2)Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Hospitalizations in 1998 and 2005 – HCUP-US Home Page. Retrieved March 5, 2012
3)Liker, H., Hungin, P., & Wiklund, I. (2005). Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 393-400.
4)Lifestyle modifications :Reflux no more
5)Prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease and its risk factors in a community-based population in southern India(Pubmed)
Hai-Yun Wang,# Kondarapassery Balakumaran Leena,# Amelie Plymoth, Maria-Pia Hergens, Li Yin, Kotacherry Trivikrama Shenoy, and Weimin Yecorresponding author
The information on this website is meant purely for educational purpose and is not meant as a substitute for a registered physicians opinion after clinical examination and appropriate tests.
Updated:25th July 2017