Hi, basically I am not going to go into detail about my story with GERD etc, everyone has heard enough misery. I am simply going to try and help by listing everything that has and hasn't worked for me in my attempt to stop heartburn.
Things I found HAVEN'T worked:
-Taking a tablespoon of honey. This for me, if anything, made things worse. I don't believe honey to be viscous enough for a long enough period of time to be able to adequately protect the esophagus or stomach from corrosion. Even if you take refrigerated honey within seconds after it passes through your throat it becomes warm, and almost as fluid as water.
-Eating yoghurt. This provided temporary relief (a few minutes only), but my theory for why it doesn't work is the same as for honey above.
-Eating all kinds of 'alkaline' vegatables and fruit. An important, but deceptive, thing I found out is when websites list foods as alkalizing
this does NOT mean the food will have a neutralising effect on the acid providing temporary relief like antacids do. It simply means when the foods are metabolised they will help regulate acid levels in the blood and tissues. I am not sure if there is a long term stomach acid reduction effect of these foods, but as I have been eating vegatables and fruit religiously my entire life I am doubtful of any relief.
-Taking antacids such as mylanta. This definately provides relief for me for a few hours after taking it, but I have found a certain rebound effect. This is not a good treatment, and I suggest not taking antacids. It makes things far worse in the long run.
Things I have found HAVE worked:
-For night time reflux eating a red delicious apple. This is only a symptomatic relief for night time reflux but does provide relief (for me) for a few hours. My theory for why this works is because these apples for some reason cause a rapid production of gas in the stomach, and it allows you to belch almost straight after eating it. This reduces the pressure of stomach acid on the lower esophogeal sphincter and subsequently stops acid being pushes into the esophagus.
-Not eating tomato bases sauces with pasta. Apparently tomato and starch don't digest well together. So avoid eating these foods together.
-Avoid eating regular bananas. Even though websites list these as an alkalizing fruit, they do not neutralise acid (see above). I find every time I eat a regular banana I get severe reflux. What I have found makes all the difference is eating lady finger bananas. These do not cause me any problems.
-Drinking water between meals. This seems to dilute the acid to some degree so when you reflux it is less corrosive. Although I haven't found water to actually stop the reflux problem.
-I won't go into to much detail about drugs, as everyone will experience them differently, however I will say this:
To me carafate (sucralfate) works the most effectively in protecting your stomach/esophagus from corrosion. I also have found it is one of the few ulcer/reflux drugs which has almost no evidence of having a serious long term effect. Zantac for me had a rebound effect, as did proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium. I suggest trying to wean yourself off these drugs as prolonged use my lead to more serious consequences. The good thing about carafate is it is almost entirely excreted from the body.
-A good test I have experienced for determining whether or not I have a stomach ulcer is to go for a vigorous walk. If you experience a kind of localised 'gas' pain it is likely you have some degree of gastritis. It is important to then follow up with a gastroenterologist and possibly consider an endoscopy examination. Sometimes when you have an ulcer, as I did, it is hard to actually identify from mere symptoms.
A FINAL NOTE:
I know most of you will already know this but for me it has been the most important factor of all:
Try to think about things other than your bad health and the miserable aspects in your life. I find the more you consciously think about your stomach, the more acid is secreted, the worse your health gets, and the more stressed you get. It is a perpetual cycle. I know a lot of you will deny you have an anxiety problem, but it often the case that deep within yourself there is a tense, rigid mentality trying to avoid being exposed. A few months ago I had severe reflux day after day after day, to the point where I decided to take carafate again to heal my stomach. As soon as I got a ordered a prescription of the drug and had confirmed to myself I would be getting relief in a few days, my heartburn suddenly dissapeared. Coincidence? I don't think so. As much as I didn't want to admit to myself my reflux was being caused by something so petty as an 'anxiety' problem, it became obvious to me something other than malfunctioning stomach physiology was going on. As soon as I accepted this and realised I had to start living and enjoying life it helped a darn lot. So even though this is somewhat counterintuitive, get off these self-help forums, forget about your stomach and look towards those aspirations that you were seeking all those years ago.
To all those people who actually have a genetic predisposition to GERD or any another debilatating disease, I sincerly hope you find a maintainable, safe and long lasting treatment.