Patient Profile: Stomach upset, reflux, embarrassing gas…oh my!

by Sarah Nosker-Merlino, Certified Medical Assistant

Did you know that approximately 60% of the adult population will experience some type of gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) within a 12 month period and that 20 to 30% will have weekly symptoms? Did you also know that approximately 7 million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD? GERD is essentially caused by low stomach acid. When you don’t have enough acid in your stomach, it causes the esophageal sphincter to stay open, thus resulting in reflux! Most people, when experiencing these symptoms, reach for their handydandy antacids—however, this only exacerbates the initial problem. One such co-learner was doing this very thing, until they decided to visit Riordan Clinic, in search of a better outcome.

shutterstock_169052156This co-learner visited with a Riordan Clinic doctor and presented symptoms such as reflux, GI burning and stomach upset. They also had a decreased appetite and feeling that they weren’t digesting all their food. They had tried Prilosec, which helped for a little while, but then the symptoms would return. After reviewing the co-learner’s history of symptoms, the doctor ordered a lab to check nutrient levels as well as test samples of their stool. Upon the co-learner’s first follow up appointment, the lab was reviewed with the doctor. It was found that they had some very low nutrient levels, as well as meat fibers in their stool. This meant they were not properly digesting protein. In order to digest protein properly, the stomach has to have sufficient acid. The patient had hypochorhydria (low stomach acid). This explained why the patient was also experiencing excessive gas. If you don’t break down meat protein, you will experience this very symptom!

After solving the puzzle as to why the co-learner was experiencing these undesirable symptoms, the next part was treating them. The doctor prescribed a hydrochloric challenge, in which the patient takes hydrochloric acid in order to better aid digestion and address the GERD. With the hydrochloric challenge, the goal is to gradually eliminate taking hydrochloric acid so the stomach will produce it on its own. They were also placed on a probiotic to help put good bacteria back into the GI system, and a supplement of DGL chewables (deglycyrrhized licorice root) to help soothe, coat and repair the esophagus. This was especially beneficial while the patient was coming off of the Prilosec. After following the regimen the doctor prescribed, the patient followed up a couple of months later and noted a remarkable improvement in symptoms and a feeling of being “normal” again! With the doctor’s guidance and the co-learner’s willingness to participate in their own health, a positive outcome was achieved.