A: Many people experience acid reflux throughout their lifetime. Also known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), it is when stomach acid makes its way up into the esophagus and damages the protective lining. If you were to go into any given pharmacy, you would see an entire section of medications devoted to solely this. These medications may include antacids (Maalox or Mylanta), ranitidine, and Prilosec OTC. But before you start popping pills, think about what is really causing your acid reflux. While it is well-known that foods such as chocolate, alcohol, fats, and spicy foods can trigger acid reflux, few people are aware of the most powerful reflux inducer…the after dinner mint. Mints (specifically peppermint and spearmint) will lower the pressure in the esophageal sphincter more than any of the above foods. The sphincter acts like a gate between your esophagus and stomach, and when the pressure is lowered acid can easily reflux up into your esophagus. So next time you reach for the after dinner mints to freshen up, think twice and perhaps reach for some mouthwash (or better yet a toothbrush) instead.
Information provided by Jennifer Meurer, Pharm.D., Medicap Pharmacy, 107 N.E. Delaware, Suite 6, 964-8550.