Did Midterm Election Results Give President Obama Acid Reflux?

Did the Republican take-over of the House and Senate give President Obama heartburn?

Maybe so.

It was announced that the President was taken to Fort Belvoir Medical Center yesterday after complaining of a sore throat. Obama underwent a fiber optic examination his throat which showed some “soft tissue swelling.” The President was then transferred over to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD where he underwent additional testing, including a CT scan. The diagnosis, according to White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, was acid reflux.

The President’s physician, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, reported:

“The CT scan was normal. The president’s symptoms are consistent with soft tissue inflammation related to acid reflux and will be treated accordingly.”

The President gave up smoking before entering the White House.

What is Gastroesopheal Reflux (GER)?

ge refluxGastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus. Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion.
Doctors also refer to GER as:
  • acid indigestion
  • acid reflux
  • acid regurgitation
  • heartburn
  • reflux

Having GER once in a while is common.

Common foods that can worsen reflux symptoms include

  • citrus fruits
  • chocolate
  • drinks with caffeine or alcohol
  • fatty and fried foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint flavorings
  • spicy foods
  • tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, salsa, chili, and pizza

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious and long-lasting form of GER. GER that occurs more than twice a week for a few weeks could be GERD. GERD can lead to more serious health problems over time. GERD affects about 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Who is more likely to have GERD?

Anyone can develop GERD, some for unknown reasons. You are more likely to have GERD if you are
  • overweight or obese
  • a pregnant woman​
  • taking certain medicines
  • a smoker or regularly exposed to secondhand smoke

What are the symptoms of GER and GERD?

If you have gastroesophageal reflux (GER), you may taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth. The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn. Other common GERD symptoms include

    • bad breath
    • nausea
    • pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen
    • problems swallowing or painful swallowing
    • respiratory problems
    • vomiting
    • the wearing away of your teeth

​What are the complications of GERD?

Without treatment, GERD can sometimes cause serious complications over time, such as

Esophagitis

Esophagitis is inflammation in the esophagus. Adults who have chronic esophagitis over many years are more likely to develop precancerous changes in the esophagus.

Esophageal stricture

An esophageal stricture happens when your esophagus becomes too narrow. Esophageal strictures can lead to problems with swallowing.

​Respiratory problems

With GERD you might breathe stomach acid into your lungs. The stomach acid can then irritate your throat and lungs, causing respiratory problems, such as​

  • asthma—a long-lasting disease in your lungs that makes you extra sensitive to things that you’re allergic to
  • chest congestion, or extra fluid in your lungs
  • a dry, long-lasting cough or a sore throat
  • hoarseness—the partial loss of your voice
  • laryngitis—the swelling of your voice box that can lead to a short-term loss of your voice
  • pneumonia—an infection in one or both of your lungs—that keeps coming back
  • wheezing—a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe

Barrett’s esophagus

GERD can sometimes cause Barrett’s esophagus. A small number of people with Barrett’s esophagus develop a rare yet often deadly type of cancer of the esophagus.

How do doctors treat GERD?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medicines, surgery, or a combination.

Lifestyle changes

15_degree_mattress_elevationMaking lifestyle changes can reduce your GER and GERD symptoms. You should

  • lose weightExternal NIDDK Link, if needed.
  • wear loose-fitting clothing around your abdomen. Tight clothing can squeeze your stomach area and push acid up into your esophagus.
  • stay upright for 3 hours after meals. Avoid reclining and slouching when sitting.
  • sleep on a slight angle. Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by safely putting blocks under the bedposts. Just using extra pillows will not help.
  • quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Over-the-counter and prescription medicines​

You can buy many GERD medicines without a prescription. However, if you have symptoms that will not go away, you should see your doctor.
All GERD medicines work in different ways. You may need a combination of GERD medicines to control your symptoms.
Antacids. Doctors often first recommend antacids to relieve heartburn and other mild GER and GERD symptoms. Antacids include over-the-counter medicines such as

  • Maalox
  • Mylanta
  • Riopan
  • Rolaids

​Antacids can have side effects, including diarrhea and constipation.

H2 blockers

2nd gen h2H2 blockers decrease acid production. They provide short-term or on-demand relief for many people with GER and GERD symptoms. They can also help heal the esophagus, although not as well as other medicines. You can buy H2 blockers over-the-counter or your doctor can prescribe one. Types of H2 blockers include:

If you get heartburn after eating, your doctor may recommend that you take an antacid and an H2 blocker. The antacid neutralizes stomach acid, and the H2 blocker stops your stomach from creating acid. By the time the antacid stops working, the H2 blocker has stopped the acid.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

proton pump inhibitorPPIs lower the amount of acid your stomach makes. PPIs are better at treating GERD symptoms than H2 blockers.1 They can heal the esophageal lining in most people with GERD. Doctors often prescribe PPIs for long-term GERD treatment.

However, studies show that people who take PPIs for a long time or in high doses are more likely to have hip, wrist, and spinal fractures. You need to take these medicines on an empty stomach so that your stomach acid can make them work.
Several types of PPIs are available by a doctor’s prescription, including:

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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