Heartburn, Acid Reflux, & GERD- Best Relief Options of Diet, Over-the-Counter, or Prescription PPI

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in March of 2021. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS8uzSBkPqE&t=18s

Brad: I'm Brad Heineck and I'm exactly one half of the Bob and Brad show. We have Chris the pharmacist here. We're excited to have him here. He did a lot of research and he just knows this information on this topic, which is heartburn, acid reflux and GERD capital G-E-R-D best relief options. Whether it's diet, over-the-counter or prescription meds, also known as PPI. I guess we're going to get into that. You need to know this information. If you have this or a family member it's going to be a complete education. You are going to feel so much better about how to deal with this. So, Chris, heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, or G-E-R-D. Are they all the same or is that three different diagnoses?


Chris: They're all the same. Basically, it is that awful feeling you get in your chest, you just feel like it's kind of burning. It just doesn't feel right. You're just uncomfortable, whether it's after you eat or maybe when you lay down at night. Your symptoms can come at different times of the day or at all times of the day. So, it just kind of depends on how severe your case is.


Brad: So from personal experience, I do want to say one thing, if you have not had acid reflux or this problem and you're getting chest pain, don't guess and think, “Oh, I've got heartburn,” because you could be having a heart attack. You've got to get in and get it checked out. Confirm what the problem is.


Chris: Yeah, you want to make sure that you have a professional look you over, because there are symptoms that are indiscernible to a doctor, even in an ER setting until they actually do blood work and look at your levels and all the things there.


Brad: So you're saying, they don't know what it is?


Chris: They don't know until they do some testing. So, sometimes people can have what they think is heartburn and it's actually a heart attack. Some people think they're having a heart attack and its only heartburn. So if it's an emergent situation, don't just guess “I'm going to take a couple of Tums and see what happens,” get it taken care of properly.


Brad: There's another diagnosis with similar symptoms which I have, it’s costochondritis, which, has to do with the ribs and the cartilage in your chest. But I know I get that pain in the chest area. I've gone to the emergency room three times. So I feel confident if I ever get it again that I know it's my costochondritis, but I'm thinking, boy I bet you heartburn is similar, because my mother had it in the same location.


Chris: It’s the same nerve plexus, from that standpoint. So yeah, it's nothing to mess around with guys. If you don't know, get it checked out by the pros. Those doctors are there to help you, and make sure. And if it is just heartburn, there's a lot of things that we can do to help treat people.


Brad: Yeah, that's the good news about this, the more educated you are, the more you can self-treat or work with your doctor and have a team effort that really does that prime way to work. So you feel part of the team. What are the stats as far as, is it just an older person thing or? When I was looking this up, there was a diagram and this really helped me. If you think of, here we've got the stomach, on the left, so the food goes down, goes over into the stomach, and then from there into the intestine, or the duodenum. So we've got the stomach. And here are the food's going down and there's a sphincter that keeps the food going one direction if everything is working right, and down in here, that's why I use red, we've got stomach acid, and evidently that's pretty potent.

Chris: Very potent, one molar, one molar hydrochloric acid.


Brad: Now we're talking chemistry, we've got a pharmacist. So if you compare that to other like acidic food, stomach acid is…


Chris: Much stronger. A tomato is not going to withstand that.


Brad: So we've got all this acid down here, which is healthy. We use it to digest, but we want to keep it there. So with GERD or acid reflux, somehow this stuff gets up and goes this way. And that burns, which is why you get the pain in the chest.


Chris: Yes. You're describing it really well.


Brad: I feel like that's my contribution to the this all.


Chris: That’s a definite improvement over my artwork, that's for sure. No two ways about it, but yes. When you get those symptoms, there's certain foods that can trigger it. In the old days, we used to tell people that, if you have reflux or GERD, you have to go to this bland diet where you're just eating like white bread and crackers and chicken noodle soup.


Brad: How about milk?


Chris: Milk actually is weakly acidic. And some people can actually get irritated by it. Not always. But that way of thinking is wrong. So that's the old news. The good news is, you can eat a lot, just about anything you want, minus garlic, tomatoes, citrusy fruits, onions, those types of things.


Brad: I’m dead in the water. I can’t eat grapefruit?


Chris: Well, if you have heartburn, no. But there's medicines, we're going to get to better living through chemistry shortly. It's one of those things that if we can avoid some of the foods that are triggers, we can kind of naturally bypass some of this. A lot of times, we may overeat, we have a high fatty meal. It's just, this little muscle the sphincter here, can get stretched and all of a sudden acid will just kind of leak right through it. And what do you do after dinner? You kind of lay around, you watch TV. I mean, you're not necessarily sitting with perfect posture. If you can sit upright after you eat for a good hour, this is going to help because gravity is going to keep things going down in the right direction. But if you're in the lazy boy and you're flipping through channels or you're reading a book, and your stomach is a little bulged because you maybe had the old 96er or something to that effect, you can get some seepage and you're going to get that heartburn.


Brad: 96er?


Chris: Did you ever see “The Great Outdoors” John candy movie? 96-ounce steak.


Brad: I don't get out much


Chris: A very big piece of meat.


Brad: I quit watching movies after 86. Anyways...


Chris: That's about when it was made.


Brad: I was on the borderline. So anyways also, so if you lay flat, you're even more prone.


Chris: More prone to probably suffering. And so there's things that people can use like bed wedges, prop their bed up. So there's a lot of non-drug things you can do but what it comes down to and really the title today is, the proton pump inhibitors have really revolutionized how we treat these types of acids.


Brad: Protons Pump Inhibitors. So they put up a pump in your system?


Chris: Basically the easiest way to think about how we make too much stomach acid. We have pumps and they're basically in the lining of our stomach and their actually what kicks out the stomach acid.


Brad: You don't mean... Surgically putting the pump in there. It’s not like the pump for morphine or anything. So the pump is just a natural thing that goes on.


Chris: No we're not pumping it in.


Brad: That was a little scary for me. You said the pump and I thought, what are we going to promote here?


Chris: There is no little robots in us or anything like that?


Brad: I thought they're going to put them in there. I didn’t know.


Chris: No, but ultimately it's what our stomachs do to break down food. So we need that. The business end in the stomach is the surface area, then it gets into some of the intestines, from there nutrients go into the body. I mean, that's the quick and dirty answer but the reality of it is, there’s a lot going on. For a lot of people that have reflux or even other stomach kind of conditions your body is making too much stomach acid and as a result, it's seeping out in the wrong direction, we're getting the heartburn, we're getting the discomfort. So if we take these types of medications like Omeprazole or pantoprazole, like Prilosec or Protonix these are drugs that suppress that acid pump. So your body doesn't make as much acid. Realistically, when you take a tablet within about 20 minutes of taking that, like with Omeprazole specifically, your stomach acid has been reduced by 80%. It’s very thorough.


Brad: So what about, I heard people take Tums, over-the-counter.