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Raising the head of the bed for GERD
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Raising the head of the bed for GERD

How effective is raising the head of the bed?  Since I get heartburn even while completely upright, I have hesitated to make a big change in my sleeping arrangements.  A friend told me that when she raised the bed a full 5 - 6 inches, she and her husband both felt like they were sliding off the bed all night!  My GERD has become steadily worse over the past 5 years or so and now I am awaiting tests to decide the need for fundoplication.
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Dear Glenda,
Raising the head of your bed may help because regurgitated gastric contents must now flow uphill to reach the esophagus.  If, however, you have substantial daytime reflux, then the benefit may not be that great.  Ifd you are reluctant to raise the head of your bed, you could purchase a wedge that would raise only your side .  This item is available in many pharmacies.
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I bought those 6 inch flat topped cones to set the legs on and slept on that twin bed one night. I never could get comfty b/c I felt like I was putting on brakes all night to keep from sliding. I did put our kingsized bed up on bricks, which adds about 3 in. to the head height. I think I notice a little improvement, but I still get reflux at night. I don't think it's acid since I take Aciphex and have done the Zantac, Prevacid and Prilosec route as well. I think it's mucus. I too have reflux sitting up in my recliner chair if I go to sleep. I don't seem to have it when I'm awake. My husband asks me every now and then to please remove the bricks, but so far we still have them. And we do slide some even with only 3 inch rise.
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Hi:

I use something called a Bedge. It is a comfortable foam pad that you can sleep on that will keep youo in a good position at night. I use to have a terrible time regurgitating food at night, and since I bought this, I don't anymore. This way your partner doesn't have to slide off the bed at night. I actually find it very comfortable too.

Be careful about fundoplications. There are some very serious complications that many people do not realize. I know first hand. I had the surgery and had a terrible outcome, and ended up having 5 operations to repair the damage, and now am left with irreversible damage. BEWARE!!!!!

You can e-mail me at ***@**** if you want more details.

Carol
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Hi my name is Teresa, i am a 28 yr old female. I have been haveing a problem for quiet sometime with an aggrivation right below my breast bone in the diaghpram area where the esagophus ends..It feels like a terrible hunger pain,or sometimes a tightening or sometimes it changes and feels like a small baloon or bubble is being blown up,It makes me feel like i can't breathe
deeply enough and is agonizeing. it can last for hours even days.. ihave been to my doctor and at first he prescribed tagament thinking it was an ulcer, but that did'nt seem to help so i went back and he then said it might be acid reflux so i took a script of prilosec which didn't seem to do the job really either..any other suggestions as to what it might be...Eating relieves it a little but it still feels like a hunger pain (not a pain like a hurt) More like an aggrivation. Yawning seems to help me catch my breath when i can't breathe properly because of it...Thanks ..
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Hi my name is Teresa, i am a 28 yr old female. I have been haveing a problem for quiet sometime with an aggrivation right below my breast bone in the diaghpram area where the esagophus ends..It feels like a terrible hunger pain,or sometimes a tightening or sometimes it changes and feels like a small baloon or bubble is being blown up,It makes me feel like i can't breathe
deeply enough and is agonizeing. it can last for hours even days.. ihave been to my doctor and at first he prescribed tagament thinking it was an ulcer, but that did'nt seem to help so i went back and he then said it might be acid reflux so i took a script of prilosec which didn't seem to do the job really either..any other suggestions as to what it might be...Eating relieves it a little but it still feels like a hunger pain (not a pain like a hurt) More like an aggrivation. Yawning seems to help me catch my breath when i can't breathe properly  because of it...if there's anyone out there that sees this and has any comments or possible explainations please email me and let me know thanks....
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Before having the fundoplication, please talk to your doctor about the surgery & results of surgery.  Lots of times, people end up more miserable after the surgery than before.
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See the Q: Barrett's Esophagus - Billy Caddell 12/15/1999 in this Forum.

I've tried the raising the head of the bed (blocks, etc.) and then used a 12" latex foam wedge. Raising the headboard does make one slide to the foot of the bed. After five years, my wife and I bought a dual king adjustable bed. We've had them for over a year and I have just about eliminated the REFLUX at night. With the adjustable bed we raise the head about 10-12 inches and the foot about 6-8 inches, this prevents sliding down the bed. For added comfort we purchased talatec latex mattresses (the best on the market). I highly reccommend this combination. However, they are not cheap, about $3,000 for the pair. What is your health worth?

I've had Barrett's Esophagus for several years and MUST sleep with the bed elevated every night or anytime I'm lying down. I now must keep it under control, because it can lead to dysplasia i.e. Cancer of the Esopahgus. REFLUX is something that should not be taken lightly. It leads to Barrett's Esophagus and then according to statistics, 2 out of 10 with Barrett's get cancer.
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So from your message Bill, I gather that you find this is the best choice for your reflux?  The wedges are ok, I suppose, but I have had trouble with my back since they make you sleep in a kind of folded up position. I am currently sleeping on a 1" board under the matress (from about waist high) and about a 1" folded blanket under the bottom sheet.  Since we have a king bed, my DH is not too disturbed by this.  I figure if we raised the headboard as well, it would give a bit more angle without too much disturbance, but I really haven't seen a big improvement yet.  Yes, if this is to become a lifelong thing, I think the investment is an adjustable bed is definitely in the cards.

Michelle - believe me, I will check out EVERY avenue before choosing surgery, but since I am only 44, I also question the results and side effects of being on strong acid suppressors for the next 40 years.  I also wonder if I can live without the small pleasures of eating things like garlic, fresh fruit or vegetables and even chocolate, not to mention the challenge of getting a complete diet.  We are long lived women in my family!  I feel I have a couple of advantages over some people for the surgery, not the least of which is that a good family friend is a physician who is on the surgical review board for our hospital.  He knows who the best people are to do the job and can help us out that way.  Thanks for your input!
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Hi Glenda... Thank you for asking this question! I have had reflux for many years, at first only at night, controlled fairly well with Zantac. For the last 3 years I have had it all day and worse at night, medication doesn't work. Right now I'm sleeping propped up on this triangle shaped pillow and during the night I always end up laying flat. I'm considering an adjustable bed, but wondering if it will help when I have reflux all day while completely upright. My reflux gets a lot worse with movement- just walking around! Surgery is not an option for me and I'm concerned about getting Barretts. It's comforting to know I'm not alone, I hope we all find an answer or at least something that will help. Good luck everyone and thanks for your comments.

Hi Bill... It's great to hear the adjustable bed has helped you! If you don't mind me asking- do you have reflux during the day also? If you are on any medications, which do you find most helpful? Thank you!
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To Bill,
I, too, have Barrett's.  I don't know much about dealing with it"
Please describe  your treatment, and what the outlook is.
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Have you tried all of the medications including Prilosec and Pantoloc?  Also, why are you not able to have surgery?
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Does anyone have terrible burning in the throat that they (doctors) cannot find a reason for?  I have had Endoscopy,
laryngoscopy, and barium swallow.  No answers!!  I have been
told that there was some redness around the larynx, but it does
not explain the severity of pain.  I think personally it might be
a weak Lower Esophageal valve allowing acid seepage.  Can anyone
relate??????This is a 24hr problem.
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John, it sounds a BIT like reflux but you would think it would be inflamed all the way up the esophagus, not just at the larynx.  I suppose one way to test it would be to go on some strong acid suppressors like prilosec.  If the pain went away then, you would have your answer.
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Hi Glenda,
I have a rather complicated situation. My reflux comes from severe gastroparesis, and I also have chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. I have been on TPN (IV food) for years because I can't eat anything, but there's times I can tolerate sips of water. I have a ton of reflux even though I don't eat! My doctor refuses to give me oral meds because they won't be absorbed, any meds I take have to be IV. Unfortunately, the meds available in IV form are very limited. I have 200mg IV Zantac in my bag of TPN which is already beyond the maximum dose, and I've also tried Pepcid and Reglen. I'm going to convince my doctor to give me something, ANYTHING! It has gotten so bad that I'm awakened at night at least 8 times with acid coming up (even if I'm still sleeping upright), I have to take a deep breath to prevent it from coming all the way up. In the morning I still end up with acid in my mouth and a lot of pain in my chest. My voice is even starting to change! During the day I can't walk around without it coming up all day long. I'm pretty miserable and just don't know what to do. If I have an opportunity to try an oral med which do you think would be best? I heard Propulcid is going to be taken off the market soon. :(

I'm told the fundo isn't an option because of my underlying condition, is this true? Will the fundo only help if the LES is malfunctioning, or will it help with reflux from gastroparesis?

Thanks so much for your help! Good luck and God bless you all.

Cassandra
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How about emailing me at ***@**** and we can talk off the board...
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Estimada paciente:
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I suffered for many years with a gnawing pain after I would eat and when I would lie down I would have an burning sensation in
my upper chest area. MAny nights I would lie awake tasting an
acid like sustance. Sometimes, I would gag and have to throw up.
I tried Pedci AC, which helped a little, but it would get me bound up. I drank Mylanta or Peptp Bismol, but got tired of this all the time. After 6 years of suffering, I went to the Doctor  
and he gave me some prilosec to try. This was like a "miracle"
for me but the symptoms would come back in the early evening.
He suggested a combination of propulsid and prilosec. This was
wonderful. I could eat regularly again without feeling all
that nagging pain.

Now they are going to restrict prescriptions for propulsid.
Does anyone know of an alternative for this drug?
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Theresa - I take my pantoloc in the evening rather than the morning and that has helped quite a bit.  But if you still need something that works like propulsid (a motility medication), there are other things you can try, such as motilium, which don't have such scary side effects.  But if propulsid is the only thing that works for you, I am sure you will still be able to get it - I hope!
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Hi there...
Thank you for responding, I'm sorry I couldn't get back to you sooner! I haven't been able to e-mail you because something is wrong with my e-mail program, it will receive incoming mail but won't let me send any. When I push send it acts like it's going to send it but takes forever, then it tells me "connection timed out." That must be computer talk for a brain fart. I'm not too good with computers as far as troubleshooting goes!

If you don't mind, can you respond here in the forum? I would be really interested in any advice you can give me. This problem is pretty frustrating... what I wouldn't give to get a good night sleep! If you'd rather not write here, I'll be trying to fix my computer in the meantime and will e-mail you as soon as I get this figured out. Thanks again!
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i am on previcid for intestinal metaplasia will this condition be cured or will i have to worry about barretts?
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Sorry about your email troubles - I have a computer specialist in my house so I don't have to worry about stuff like that (of course, half the time the computer is in pieces on the floor, but I live with that *LOL*)

Your situation sounds very extreme.  I can't imagine you have much of a life!  I am imagining you have been tested every which way - gastroscopy, colonoscopy, etc?  I gather that the gastroparesis is a partial paralysis of the whole gastro system - top to bottom, so to speak?  If that is the case, the way I understand it, the fundoplication would not help in the least unless you also have the loose muscle at the top of your stomach.

I would think that they would have you on more motility drugs, although I see you have tried Reglan.  There is also motilium and propulsid although it does have some problems.  I forget what is in Zantac and Pepcid, but I have had such good results with Pantoloc, I cetainly recommend it, although it costs a small fortune.  But then, your grocery bills are pretty small, eh? (*LOL* If we can't laugh, we really ARE in bad shape!)

In spite of the pantoloc, my acid is getting continually worse so I do also take Gaviscon at night.  I chew the tablets, but you might not be able to do that - the liquid maybe?

Please feel free to post here - I was just thinking it was easier to email - obviously got that one wrong!  I'll check in daily.

Glenda
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To anyone thinking about having a Nissen Fundoplication, I would reconsider.  I had one in May of '98 and wish that I hadn't.  I only had relief for 2 months before the symptoms started up again. Now if I feel nauseous, I'm not able to vomit. I can eat nothing without having symptoms.  I feel a pressure on my chest after eating.  This is no way to live!!  Sue
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Hi:

Sue, I agree with the fundoplication. It isn't all it's cracked up to be. I suffer everyday as a result of this horrible operation. If anyone already has gastroparesis, don't even consider having the fundoplication it will make things worse. I know, I am living it. I have a more restricted diet now than I did before the surgery.

Just be careful and do thorough research before opting for this avenue. There could be more and worse problems afterwards.

Carol
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I don't think fundoplication is a good option for gastroparesis.  From what I am hearing, it is really only good for people with a loose LES (lower esophogeal sphincter).  Right now I am still awaiting the test (gastroscopy and sigmoidoscopy) that will tell me if that is my problem or not.  The only person I know who had fundoplication was really a matter of life and death.  She was very young (under 20, I think) and was not able to keep anything down at all.  She had the old style "open" (non-scope - had to open the whole chest - ouch!) surgery and is sure it saved her life.  Of course, I am not in that difficult a situation and if it is not the right choice for me I will surely be able to live with the lifestyle restrictions that GERD causes.  Certainly people with diabetes and other chronic things survive without eating exactly what they want all the time (not to mention people in 3rd world countries who barely eat at all...)  But I do trust my doctors and I think I mentioned before that we have a personal friend who is a good position to advise us on all the options, including who is best to do the surgery, if that is chosen.

I am so sorry that the surgery did not solve your problems!  I do appreciate the input and I am sure many, many people who come to this board will, too.  The internet is such a good place to hear all sides of a story - one thing I am sure of, no matter how much I trust my doctors, is that they will downplay any problems and stress the positive.  I think that is probably a good thing - I want to feel that they are confident they can help me:-)
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Hello there,

Thanks so much for your advice, I really appreciate it!

Yes, my case is pretty extreme and I don't have too much of a life. I've been unable to work since my diagnosis which drives me crazy! The last few days have been terrible with pain, haven't been able to do much of anything. It's frustrating.

I have had all the tests, gastric emptying, colonic marker, scopes both ways, etc. It is a paralysis of the whole works, except that I have 10% function left in my stomach (not enough!). I have tried all the IV motility drugs which are scarce, wish Propulcid was available IV. I was wondering about Motilium and brought it up to my doctor, he didn't know if it was available in IV form but said it's not available in the U.S. I asked him if I could just get it online and he was very reluctant, and implied he could get in trouble if I did that. I'm hoping with Propulcid being pulled off the market maybe they will push to get Motilium approved here in the U.S. Zantac does nothing anymore, in fact I took my dose back down to 150mg, no use taking that extra 50 if it doesn't help. I guess Zantac just reduces acid, could've fooled me! I'll look into the Pantoloc, maybe it comes IV. If not, I'm bent on trying pills if that's what it takes. Hope my doctor will agree. I have a pretty expensive med too, my IV Zofran is $1,000 for one week- the only one that really works. I sure don't have much of a grocery bill- none! Go to Wal-mart for toiletries, and have a weeks worth of "dinner" delivered to my doorstep every Wednesday. No dishes to wash, just tubing to toss. LOL :)

I'm kinda sad to hear the fundo idea is squashed, I held some hope that I heard wrong and maybe it would work. I can't imagine not being able to vomit though, sounds awful.

I have tried the liquid antacids and unfortunately they don't work at all, and because they sit in my stomach I reflux the taste all day long. It's yucky! I'm glad you found something that helps, it's frustrating to have your reflux worsen when it's already so bad.

Thanks again for your help! I'll check back here again. Take care and God bless.

Cassandra
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This may be way off base, but have you tried alternative treatments like chiropractic?  My chiropractor really hasn't done much to cure my GERD but he is able to reduce the discomfort level quite a bit, especiailly when I get irritable bowel type symptoms from time to time.  He uses accupressure on the iliocecal valve (the valve between two parts of the bowel) and it has some remarkable results.

I don't know if you know anything about chiro, but the theory is that keeping the spine aligned frees up the nerves that control the different organs.  Seeing as your nervous system seems to have shut down your stomach, it would seem to be a reasonable and safe thing to try.  The trick is to find a good chiro.  At this point I'd say you have little to lose:-)

Best of luck on the medication front.  It is so strange how the legal drugs don't cross the border but the illegal ones seem to just pour through.  I live on the west coast near the border so we hear a lot about stuff like that!

I'll check in to see how you are doing:-)

Glenda
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Hello!

I have tried the chiropractic route, but only before my diagnosis and out of desperation. I wonder if it would do anything now, you bring up an interesting point. If you're out of alignment it could compress the vagus nerve which controls almost everything. I never had accupressure on the iliocecal valve- pretty interesting concept.

I was in a car accident many years ago and had a head injury, I wonder if it contributed to my condition. Symptoms didn't begin until 7 years after the accident so I just assumed it wasn't related.

The down side to chiropractic care is that my insurance companies (I have a primary and secondary) don't cover it. I may just try it anyway, I haven't really tried any alternative or holistic approach. It's really upsetting to me that some herbs and drugs could help but I can't take them. I think they should make all gastrointestinal drugs in intravenous forms for those unique cases.

Thanks again for your suggestions! Hope you're feeling well and having a good day. I'll check back soon.

Cassandra
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I have a sliding hiatal hernia and GERD, and was recently changed from Zantac to Prilosec.  I am somewhat worried about long-term use of Priolsec.  My bed is elevated only about 3-4" (because of sliding off).  I find that if I don't eat anything after 7pm and chew 2 Gaviscon before bed, it usually keeps the reflux down. Sometimes I get these awful coughing jags at night.....feels like a dry throat or a tickls, presumably from the reflux.......Does anyone know of a good throat lozenge/ cough  product that isn't too sweet?  I have been keeping these Throat Discs on my nightstand.  When I lay down at night I also get occasional heart flutter, although EKG's have been normal.  How is this be related to the hiatal hernia/GERD?  Sometimes it feels like I have swallowed a golf ball?  What is bolus?  Did someone say thy have tried accupuncture?  Thanks!
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Mare - the coughing is from the reflux and cough drops make it worse because they have menthol and stuff in them.  If I cough at night now I take some more gaviscon or sometimes have something like a cracker to eat.  I really prefer pantoloc to prilosec because prilosec gave me headaches (and I get migraines...)  I had that golf ball feeling before I switched to pantoloc, too.  That just seems to be another of the typical symptoms of GERD.  I do get accupressure (no needles) from my chiropractor and it helps with the IBD type symptoms of gassiness and cramping that I get from time to time. A bolus is just a full swallow of food, drink or whatever - at least that's how I understand it.  Heart flutters are a who other thing - are you on prepulsid?  That can cause heart symptoms...

Are your docs talking about fixing the hernia?  I know they do go away on their own sometimes although I am not at all sure about sliding ones - sounds tricky!

I have heartburn tonight after being pretty good for awhile.  I think my daughter slipped some garlic into the pasta sauce - naughty girl!

Glenda
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To Mare: I also have the hiatal hernia and reflux. I did have a diseased gall bladder, no stones, but had that removed in March. The reason I'm writing is that I have what feels like heart flutters, too. This has been going on for about 3 years and I've had all sorts of heart tests. Finally, early this year it was discovered that I have mitral valve prolapse. In reading about this usually benign condition, I discovered something called the mitral valve prolapse syndrome. There are numerous things that go along with this syndrome, including panic attacks while asleep, reflux, sensitivity to smells, sounds, etc. etc. There are a couple of books out. They might be worth reading for you. One is by Lyn Richardson, I think. They are in the library.
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I was very happy to find this site. I am a 35 year old female and have suffered from a choking sensations for approx 5 years.  I never had the heartburn or any type of reflux. All the acid pain stayed in my stomach, and at least once a day, I would have trouble swallowing. It would take a long time for the "stuck" food to finally release. About 2 1/2 years ago, I finally listened to my husband and saw a doctor. After a serious of test, I was diagnosed with GERD and prescribed Prilosec. It was a miracle drug. It helped immediately. I have been taking it since. The reason I was surfing the Web today was I had a MAJOR episode last weekend that scared me half to death. This has never happened before.  I was eating a carrot and I literally choked on the tiniest piece of it. I mean tiny. My airway was completely blocked. I knew that it wasn't from the food. Luckily, I was not alone. A friend was right there and tried performing the Hymelick(sp). After about 1 minute my throat opened back up. Has anyone had a simular episode. I am starting to question if I have GERD or if it is something else. Everything I read on GERD talks about the reflux and heartburn. Again, I have never had that. Please email me if this sounds familiar.  Jane / ***@****
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Glenda, please e-mail me.  ***@****
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Do I have GERD if I don't have the heartburn?  I just burp most of the time, day and night.  At night, drinking milk helps the burping so I can get to sleep.  Also, I have the bed elevated several inches.
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Does irritable bowel and gerd somewhat come together?  I have
been diagosed with both and just feel awful at times.   There are
days that I wake up with this taste (around 3-4am) in my mouth
that is so nauseating.. When I vomit, it looks green(ugly).
I have pain in my chest that feels like my whole chest area is
going to fall out.  I also have very loose stools.  If anyone
else is exp. this please, give me a reply.
I take Prevacid..and still feel like uh....  
Please Help!!
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John, i have the exact same thing with the throat! and have been wigging out over it - got diagnosed 3 times by 3 different dr's and 4 different antibiotics later with sinusitis - finally went to an ENT who says it is allergy's or GERD - I am waiting for allergy test - i think it is the same thing you said (LES) from my research and yes it is constant! 24/7!  Please email me back direct. thanks.
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I have just read through the comments on this list. I am a male 31 year old. I have been dealing with what is thought to be GERD for  one and a half years. It comes and it goes every couple of months although its been with me for 2 months now.  Tension on right side of neck pain under breastbone tightness on right side. Some days are better then others.  

Some questions:

How do you know if you are refluxing at night? Do you wake up?

Is the act of refluxing that deep down sort of wrenching that you can feel in your upper abdomen?

I have not taken the lifestyle changes too seriously although I am going to do so now.  It is a long list.  I guess it would be worth it though.  By getting really militant about what and when you eat does it really help?

Does anybody get really long and prolonged burps hours after eating?

It is soooo nice just to know I am not the only one out there with this problem.  Thanks for being here!
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Hi Tim,

I also have GERD and might be able to answer some of your questions.

If you are refluxing at night you might wake up in the morning with an acidic taste in your mouth and some pain in your chest. If you feel better sleeping elevated then you are probably having reflux at night. I do wake up sometimes if my reflux is severe enough to push the acid up into my mouth, but otherwise I sleep through it and wake up feeling yucky in the morning. (Like I slept hanging upside down from the ceiling!)

Reflux isn't wrenching or like vomiting, and doesn't have any force behind it. You probably wouldn't know it was happening if you didn't have burning and pain in your chest, along with that "queasy" feeling.

Lifestyle changes (eating better, no smoking, exercise, etc.) do help. I don't really know what foods are better because I don't eat anymore, but when I did it was the bland foods and eating small amounts more frequently that helped. It's trial and error with food and reflux. It is good to modify your lifestyle because reflux over time can lead to Barrett's Esophagus.

I'm not sure about the long and prolonged burps, because my problem was not being able to burp! When I did food would come up along with acid. I have an illness that causes my reflux so it may be a little different from what you have.

Have you tried any of the medications like Prilosec or Prevacid? They can help a lot. After reading some of the symptoms you mentioned, have you had a cardiac workup to rule out any problems there?

Hope it soon "goes" and you get back to the better days! =o) Take care and good luck.
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How is it that nobody talks about that?
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is it possible to have Barrett's esophagus and LOW stomach acid?
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A related discussion, HAVE YOU HAD THE STOMACH ACID TEST? was started.
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A related discussion, Stinging in esophegus. was started.
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