Fri | Jan 22, 2021

Dear Doc | How to combat acid reflux

Published:Monday | December 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Q Dear Doc, recently I have been waking up at night with a burning in my chest and throat. When this wakes me, after that I would bring up some bitter liquid. The burning in my chest goes away over time after having some mint tea, but it keeps coming back. My wife says I must mine is heart attacks I am getting. Could this be true? I could really be having heart attacks like that?

A I do not think you are having a heart attack. I do, however, believe that you are having acid reflux or what is commonly called heart burn. This can commonly be aggravated during the holiday season with all the overeating and drinking that usually occurs.

Acid reflux occurs when the acid that is normally in your stomach backflows into your esophagus (gut), the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.

Persons who have acid reflux commonly complain of:

- Burning in the chest.

- Burning in the throat.

- An acid taste in the throat.

- Stomach or chest pain.

- Trouble swallowing.

- Having a sore throat.

- Unexplained cough.

You might feel better if you:

- Raise the head of your bed.

- Avoid certain foods that make your symptoms worse; such as coffee, chocolate, alcohol and fatty foods. And YES! avoid the mint tea!

- Stop smoking, if you smoke.

- Avoid lying down for three hours after a meal.

If those simple steps don't help with your symptoms. There are a few medicines that can help with the symptoms of acid reflux. They are classified as antacids, surface acting agents, histamine blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. You can buy antacids and most histamine blockers over the counter without a prescription.

Ask your pharmacist and he or she can recommend one for you.

Most people can manage their acid reflux on their own by changing their habits and taking non prescription medicines if needed. However you should see a doctor if your symptoms persist or worsens despite changing your habits and taking medication.


Is a flu vaccine necessary?


Q Dear Doc, I will be travelling overseas for the holidays to visit family, New York to be exact. I know it's going to be cold and I don't want to catch a flu. People been telling me to take a flu vaccine, but I am not too sure about that. Is it too late to take it now, the same month I'm going to be flying out? I'm also very suspicious of all these vaccine things that have been coming out lately, and Iam not too sure that I want to take it and then get sick when I'm abroad. Can you give me more information to help me decide?

A Your sentiments about the flu vaccine and vaccines in general are shared by many persons, and many are reluctant to take the flu vaccine for the same reasons.

Vaccines were designed to prevent some serious and deadly infections. The flu vaccine can help prevent you from getting sick with the flu.

The flu is an infection, caused by a virus, that causes fever, cough, body aches, and pains, among other symptoms. There are different types of flu, such as the 'seasonal' flu, which is what you are referring to; and I'm sure you have heard of others types of flu such as the H1N1/swine flu, and the bird flu.

I will only be talking about the flu vaccine that can protect you from the seasonal flu.

The flu vaccine comes in different forms; an injection that goes into muscle or as a nasal spray.

In recent years, doctors have not recommended the nasal spray at all. But for the 2018 to 2019 flu season, the nasal spray is an option for certain people where available.

The vaccine is available for all persons past the age of six months. The vaccine is usually the patient's choice, however, it is especially important for certain people who are at high risk to take it, and it is usually highly recommended for those individuals by their doctors.

The best time of year to get the flu vaccine is before the winter season begins, which is usually by October. If you intend to get the vaccine, it is best to get it soon after it becomes available in your area.

The vacine not only helps to prevent you from getting sick, but also protects those around you from getting sick, especially if you have a close relative who falls into one of the high-risk groups for requiring the vaccine. But most important, if you were vaccinated but still get the flu, the vaccine can prevent you from getting severely ill or even dying.

Yes, you can still get the flu even if you were vaccinated against it.

In some years the flu vaccine is more effective at preventing the flu than other years. The reason for this is, the people who develop the vaccines cannot predict exactly how the flu virus is going to change form year to year, and it takes months to make a new vaccine.

For this reason, people think that the flu vaccine doesn't work, or is a hoax, because they know of people who got the vaccine and still got the flu; but that does not mean the vaccine does not work.

Many times, when persons get sick after getting the flu vaccine, they do not actually have the flu; but instead have a cold which is caused by a virus unrelated to the flu virus, so the flu vaccine would not have been able help prevent that.

Additionally, even when the vaccine is less effective, and you do get a flu, it still works by helping to prevent serious illness and complications of the flu.

Common side effects. from receiving the flu vaccine are:

- Redness, mild swelling, or soreness where you got the injection.

- A mild fever.

- A mild rash.

- Headache or body aches.

No, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu.

In addition to getting the vaccine, you can:

- Ensure that you wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

- Stay away from people who are sick.

To protect others from catching a flu you should also:

- Stay home if you get the flu. Do not go to work or school until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours.

- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.