By Linda Childers, Special to Lifescript
Think heartburn and indigestion are the only signs of acid reflux? Turns out that nagging cough or hoarse throat could signal the condition too. In this exclusive interview, we ask a leading medical expert to share symptoms, treatments and recipes for relief….
About 100 million Americans have acid reflux, a condition in which contents of the stomach back up to the esophagus or higher. But more than half don’t realize it, says Jamie Koufman, M.D., F.A.C.S., founder and director of the Voice Institute of New York, a treatment center for reflux and other conditions that affect the voice.
One reason, says Koufman – an authority on acid reflux, as well as a sufferer – is that some experience atypical, “silent” symptoms, such as coughing or postnasal drip. As a result, they and their doctors assume they’re suffering from allergies or sinus problems.
Diet changes, as well as medication, are effective treatments for the condition.
In her new book, Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure, Koufman teams with ear, nose and throat surgeon Jordan Stern, M.D., and French chef Marc Bauer to introduce a healthy eating plan for people with acid reflux.
In this exclusive interview, Koufman shares clues you might miss, how to get help and low-acid recipes to get symptoms under control.
Why do so many people have acid reflux?
One reason is higher levels of acid in most foods we eat, especially those that are bottled or canned.
In the 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration raised the levels of acid in prepackaged foods to discourage bacterial growth and prolong shelf life. But they failed to anticipate the adverse health consequences [on people].
Today, some prepared foods and beverages are as acidic as stomach acid itself.
Who’s likely to develop it?
Research suggests a link between being overweight and developing acid reflux, but I’ve seen many patients at a normal weight or even very thin who also suffer from it.
And while we once thought this was a disease that only struck older people, we’re seeing more in their 20s and 30s with the condition.
Can you explain the “silent” symptoms people can get?
Silent, or atypical, acid reflux can cause symptoms such as coughing (including a dry cough), chronic throat clearing, and the sensation of having something stuck in your throat.
Many sufferers also have postnasal drip and have been told their symptoms are abnormal nasal drainage, infections or sinus problems.
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