My Stomach’s on Fire and I Can’t Put It Out

Dr. McDougall's Free Online Webinars Today's Topic,
Digestive Tune-Up Session #1

Most of us call this common complaint indigestion, but doctors call it dyspepsia.  Indigestion is an old English word that means, “lack of adequate digestion.” Dyspepsia means impaired gastric or digestive function.  But what we are trying to communicate is “suffering from discomfort, burning, or pain in our upper central abdominal area.”  We explain our feelings by saying we have an upset stomach, heartburn, acid indigestion, and acid regurgitation.

Fifty-six per cent of the people in Western countries report they have suffered from heartburn at some time in the past and 36% have symptoms at least once every 4-6 months. Half to two-thirds of pregnant women suffer heartburn during pregnancy. Patients with indigestion and acid reflux report worse emotional well-being than do people with heart failure, symptomatic heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

My guess, based on people I have seen, is that this problem is even more common than reported. Walk down the medication aisles of your local supermarket or drug store and you’ll see shelves of liquids and tablets intended to neutralize the acid, and pills to prevent acid production.  Most people rely on self-medication to treat their discomfort, but the prescription side of this heartburn business is huge. The first and third largest sum of money spent on any prescription medication in the year 2000 was for two antacids, Prilosec and Prevacid. This amounted to nearly $7 billion spent in the United States for that year – just for just two medications.--Dr McDougall's Digestive Tune-Up

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