Mythbusters vs. GERD: Debunking Common Beliefs and MisinformationPublished on Tuesday, August 01, 2023 by
If you’ve been an avid reader of Foodguides, you have a solid foundation on GERD.
You know the symptoms, treatments, and even some recipes that can help with managing GERD symptoms (if not, take some time to peruse the website! Some of my favorite articles are linked below.)
But do you know these common myths about GERD?
Myth #1 - Some people think that GERD is simply prolonged heartburn
Actually, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a medical condition where the backflow of stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes damage to the body over time. GERD occurs chronically, unlike acid reflux, which only surfaces every once in a while (see what I did there?). GERD can also lead to other health issues, including chronic cough, dental problems, and even increased asthma symptoms. It is important to talk with a healthcare professional to receive an official diagnosis of GERD.
Myth #2 - Milk and apple cider vinegar are good remedies for heartburn symptoms associated with GERD
Growing up in a rural area, I have heard of a lot of home remedies for various health problems. Some of my favorites include: using tobacco juice to alleviate the pain from a bee sting (which actually works), urinating on a jellyfish sting (do NOT try this), and using aloe to help sunburn (definitely recommend this one).
In the case of heartburn, the internet serves as an excellent source for investigating home remedies. Unfortunately, not all of these are real solutions. The most common methods of treating GERD? Drinking milk or apple cider vinegar.
Milk, especially cow’s milk, contains large amounts of fat, which can make your stomach produce more acid as it attempts to digest the cold beverage. As your stomach creates more acid, the probability of exacerbating GERD symptoms increases. Drinking milk may provide temporary relief, but it could cause long-term damage.
Apple cider vinegar is another common non-medication remedy for GERD. Some people will drink apple cider vinegar to alleviate their GERD symptoms due to a common misconception that heartburn is caused by not having enough acid in the stomach (hypochlorhydria). As you may have guessed, drinking apple cider vinegar actually increases the amount of stomach acid present in the stomach, which worsens heartburn. Since the symptoms of low stomach acid and high stomach acid are similar, a medical evaluation and diagnosis would be crucial before trying this at-home remedy for relief.
Needless to say, we do not recommend drinking milk or apple cider vinegar to relieve GERD symptoms. Instead, a change in diet, including avoiding trigger foods, is the best method to prevent GERD discomfort.
Myth #3 - GERD only affects adults
Believe it or not, children can develop GERD too! According to the National Institutes of Health, GERD is more common in children that are overweight, obese, or have a large waist size. Additionally, children with certain health conditions that affect the nervous system, esophagus, or lungs are also more likely to have GERD. Over time, GERD can cause serious health implications if left untreated. The most common conditions that may develop include esophageal stricture, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophagitis. It is important to catch GERD in children as soon as possible to prevent damage to the child’s digestive system.
Did you know these GERD myths? Want to learn more? Check out these awesome articles on Foodguides!
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, July 1). Acid reflux and gerd: The same thing?. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/expert-answers/heartburn-gerd/faq-20057894
- Common heartburn myths. PEPCID®. (n.d.). https://www.pepcid.com/understanding-heartburn/heartburn-myths
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Definition & Facts for Ger & Gerd in children - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/acid-reflux-ger-gerd-children/definition-facts
- Northwestern Medicine. (2020). 6 myths of Gerd. Northwestern Medicine. https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/myths-of-gerd
- Pfizer. (2023). Heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD: What’s the difference? Pfizer.com. https://www.pfizer.com/news/articles/heartburn_acid_reflux_or_gerd_what_s_the_difference