Years and Years of Heartburn, Reflux: GERD

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I am continually shocked by the sheer volume of people suffering endlessly from heartburn and reflux. I have had so many patients with 5, 10, 20, even 30-plus years of heartburn and reflux. Many of them have been taking various antacid medications for years, both over the counter and prescription. Some of them have also experimented with some natural products, like probiotics and other digestive aids, like papaya enzymes or licorice root extracts. Many, however, despite their great intentions and hard work, are not seeing the relief sought from their efforts. There is still hope—things can get better—but we must truly understand why the heartburn or reflux is happening to begin with.

GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a conglomeration of various disorders, all causing the movement of stomach contents into the esophagus. Often, this comes with burning in the upper abdomen upward to the throat. A few experience a sour taste in their mouth. But this really just describes a symptom—a symptom that not all individuals even feel. Some with GERD have barely any symptoms, or distant, seemingly irrelevant signs, such as a cough, postnasal drip, nasal allergies or difficulty swallowing, among others.

There are many different causes of these symptoms—from a breakdown to the lining of the stomach wall, to changes in the function of the liver and gallbladder, weakness of the diaphragm causing a hiatal hernia, imbalances in the gut flora, to stress-causing cortisol imbalances affecting gastric motility. There are really dozens of reasons why one could experience GERD symptoms. Each requires different techniques and strategies to resolve. Be it physical, chemical or emotional in its origin, GERD must be dealt with at its source. Many types of therapies may be required to resolve this problem, but most cases heal rather quickly, often with significant relief in just a few weeks.

Source: Dr. David Pollack, of Pollack Wellness Institute (66 Commack Rd., Ste. 204, Commack). For more information, call 631-462-0801 or visit

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