Got a question for the one and only Dr. Oz. You know, everyone's got their opinion about how I should deal with my heartburn. You're a doctor. What do you think I should do?
— Regis Philbin
Dr. Oz: I want to take one step back and talk about why I don't often throw antacids at the problem. I want you to understand what really is happening with heartburn. When you are lying back in bed—at night especially, though it can happen at any time during the day—you will notice the acid pulls up into the stomach. If you've got reflux, it will go back up into the esophagus. This junction is supposed to stay closed, but when that acid bathes the inside of the esophagus, the swallowing tube, you burn it. It's like a sunburn. And that sunburned area, once it's irritated, cracks and becomes deformed, and it has to heal. Now, it gets bright red and takes about a week to get better, but if you get bad and bad again, it starts to develop these changes that become cancer.
There's been a dramatic increase in esophageal cancer, which is a bad cancer, because we are numbing our stomachs with antacids and blocking the ability of our body to respond to the warning sign that you are having pain. So, I don't want to just throw antacids or other kinds of medications [at you].
And you know what, Regis? I think one of the best home remedies that I found was aloe vera. They make a little syrup out of it. You drink it. It's actually pretty effective. If you're going to take something by mouth, you might want to try that as one of the options because it bathes the area and coats it. Let me give you my quick recipe that I think makes a ton of sense.
Step 1: No more alcohol, especially late at night, because the problem with alcohol is it relaxes that sphincter so you can't get the acid back where it needs to be. It keeps going up there and sunburning, which again is what it's doing to your esophagus. You never have time to heal.
Step 2: Regis, I see how you dress. Loosen the pants. Loosen them up. Take the belt out. And for women who wear Spanx and other kinds of gear like that, the problem is it puts pressure in the abdominal area, and that squeezes the acid back up to the esophagus.
Step 3: You have to elevate the head of the bed. This is important. Pillows do not work because human beings roll off their pillow. Take bricks, books, something you are not using, put them under the headboard of the bed, and put the bed at a little bit of an angle. I'll tell you a clue a lot of folks don't realize: If you are getting hoarse in the morning or you feel you are congested up top, it's because the acid is going up really high. It's burning your vocal cords. So, there are all kinds of signs besides just having classic heartburn that you've got reflux of acid up into the esophagus.
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