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Acid Reflux during Sleep
It's been a while since I've updated so today I'm going to talk about a case of acid reflux that I treated recently.
The patient is a 70 year old gentleman who was referred to me. The patient is otherwise healthy for his age except for this acid reflux issue that has been going on for many months. Similar to many patients, he has gone through various forms of exams which have not found anything of suspicion. Because nothing is yet to be found so no real treatment is actually given, save for various drugs. The patient is scheduled for other exams apparently, and told me what he should do in the mean time, which is actually a few months. The drugs didn't work for him apparently. He said it is pointless to sit, wait and be continuously bothered by this issue, so that's why he came to see me.
Acid reflux seems to be a minor problem for many people because it may simply occur occasionally. For this patient it is very severe to the point where sleep is greatly disrupted. I was told that the acid comes up every 20 minutes when he lies down to sleep. If I were in his shoes I don't think I could possibly sleep at all, which is exactly how he felt. For any healthy individual, even this can wear a person out over time.
Fortunately, acid reflux is a common problem we treat in Chinese Medicine. In the old times this problem was often called "swallowing acid", an interesting term because that's eventually what happens---even though the acid comes up, the patient would have to swallow it back down in the end. In Chinese Medicine acid reflux is believed to be an imbalance of the digestive system, in the sense that things which should go down aren't descending but end up reversing back up. This is different from modern medicine which looks only at the acid, but disregards where the acid eventually goes. The fact of the matter is, the stomach cannot do without stomach acid as it is necessary for normal digestion. Yet the problem is that this liquid is corrosive in nature, and only suitable to be in the stomach; other tissue spaces cannot bear its corrosiveness. The patient told me before he came to see me he has tried probiotics which helped little. I told him some of my patients use it too, and to my experience it seems to help for diarrhea related problems only.
We used a combination of Chinese Herbal Medicinal teas and acupuncture over a course of about a week. The results were great. After the first treatment the patient could sleep much better. There was continued improvement every time. Now, the patient can sleep very well through the night.
We had to quickly deal with this nagging issue as the patient had a cruise scheduled soon, and thankfully we were able to deliver good results so he can enjoy his vacation comfortably.