While it’s true that in many cases heartburn can be cured, that does not mean the immediate relief of heartburn by rotating between Tums and Rolaids, or Pepto Bismol and Gaviscon in any way represents a cure.  A lot of times what happens is the root cause is ignored and the symptoms or even just one symptom is dealt with in isolation.

I’m not suggesting that there’s no place for OTC antacids or even prescription drugs such as Zantac that are designed to reduce the acidity of the stomach.  In some cases, there may not even be and underlying condition causing the severe heartburn.  Sometimes it is just a one-time discomfort caused by too many spicy chicken wings the night before.  Denial is a powerful thing though, and many of us are willing to go on blaming a meal when we should be looking at what’s going on and gut and the relationship between our lifestyle and how we feel.

Treating Symptoms vs the Condition

ometimes a symptom is so acute that you really have to do something about it.  Maybe you are in too much pain, for example.  Overall though, simply treating symptoms is not a good strategy for maintaining or building wellness.  Maybe a special heartburn diet is the right idea, but if that means just eating honey mustard wings instead of hot wings and drinking high balls for a week instead of beer, you are still not thinking of wellness holistically or even in terms of a particular condition. If all you are doing is the minimum to salve the agony from a particular symptom, the problem will not get better, even if you mask it, but it will usually come back with a vengeance. That might mean that the best heartburn relief, whether a prescription medication or a herbal remedy is of little use to you since the underlying condition has proliferated and worsened to the point that there are other more troubling symptoms.

Concurrent Symptoms

One other thing that you can do to quickly check if your heartburn symptoms are just a one-off from a spicy meal or too much coffee is to think about if you have any other symptoms even if you don’t think they are obviously related.  Some things like abdominal swelling, bloating and gas after eating, bad breath, and stomach cramps are very common with heartburn and acid reflux.  The more symptoms you have and longer they last, as well as the more often they occur, the more likely you should visit your goctor or natural health care practitioner to get checked out for any underlying causes or conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, IBS, or even celiac disease.  I suffer from gluten intolerance and find that I experience bloating after eating along with heartburn symptoms if I get a trace of gluten.  In addition, there are a lot of problem foods such as soy protein and nuts that cause me stomach trouble.  If you have ruled out hangover symptoms like headache, sluggishness, and an upset stomach or nausea, take a closer look at your symptoms and don’t automatically blame them on one meal.  Even if you are not silently suffering from a more serious condition, if you have a very unhealthy diet you may still have chronic heartburn or constant heartburn even though the cure may be quite simple and easy to apply.

Let me reiterate that it is important that you do not self-medicate with over the counter medications or do-it-yourself remedies even after performing an Internet search and calling yourself an expert.  While it is very important to become informed about your health and wellness, and the web is a terrific resource, a small proportion of the time there are serious medical conditions such as bleeding ulcers and even things like stomach cancer or cancer of the esophagus that require medical intervention.  In many other cases, medical advice is extremely beneficial for diagnosing underlying conditions and performing unnecessary testing for a conclusive diagnosis.

Using Prescription Medication vs Natural Remedies

I am of the opinion that while prescription medication has an essential place in dealing with acute medical issues. Beyond that, many chronic health issues including a large number of stomach conditions and gastro-intestinal problems are best dealt with taking into account holistic treatments, naturopathic resources, and homeopathic remedies.  So while I strongly recommend consulting your medical professionals if you have a concern about your health, the ongoing maintenance and improvement of your wellness is not something that’s going to be fixed by OTC products such as an antacid, no matter how much calcium and may have.  Nor will the medication restore your wellness except in cases of a specific more acute complaint.  A lifestyle change involving forming healthy habits is essential even if everything you do isn’t perfect.

Using Over the Counter (OTC) Treatments vs Do It Yourself (DIY)

Sometimes we need to feel better to get on with our lives and get work done.  That means sometimes we take a lozenge for throat burn, some Gas Ex for our bloated stomach and intestinal gas and some Pepto Bismol for relief from heartburn symptoms.  Just because we sometimes take two Tylenol doesn’t mean we can’t also have a goal of healthful awareness and long-term wellness.

Sometimes we can think about wellness and natural remedies the wrong way.  If you find yourself diagnosing your own ailments and putting together a DIY natural remedy instead of visiting a health professional, often all you’re doing is treating a symptom.  Moreover, often that treatment is very inadequate if you designed by yourself using what you had on hand.  That being said, part of change in your lifestyle involves incremental change and adding in new habits and behaviours.  This means that you will be relying on your environment around you all the time to support the changes you want to make.  You could consider this a gradual sort of do-it-yourself life change with improving your wellness as a goal.  The difference is you’re not doing it by yourself even though ultimately it’s all about personal responsibility.