DEAR DR. DONOHUE:
I have had acid reflux for quite some time, and doctors have prescribed different medicines, the last being omeprazole. Medicines were not relieving the burning pain. The best advice came from an online message board that said to “sleep on your left side.” Figuring it wouldn’t hurt to try this method, I began sleeping on my left side. Once my body learned to stay in that position, the pain does not bother me now at all at night. Why don’t doctors share such simple methods for relief rather than prescribing medications? Please pass this information on to others. — N.S.
When it works, a change in sleeping position is a simple way to deal with a big problem. It doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it works for only a few, but it’s still valuable advice and is something that should be suggested more often. A change in sleeping position also can work for snoring. Sleeping on the side, right or left, can open up the throat and stop snoring. Redundant throat tissue, like a reed in a wind instrument, lies behind snoring. Sewing a pocket in the back of the pajamas and putting either a tennis ball or a marble in it keeps snorers off their backs.
Other self-help tips for GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn or acid indigestion — all are the same condition) include staying away from foods that cause it. Onions, garlic, coffee, carbonated beverages, alcohol, chocolate, fried and fatty foods, citrus fruits and juices, tomato sauces, peppermint, spearmint and spicy foods are notorious troublemakers.
Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated is another way to keep stomach acid in the stomach. Prop 6- or 8-inch blocks under the posts at the head of the bed. In this position, gravity keeps stomach acid in the stomach.
Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, and saliva is a natural antacid.
Don’t wear tight garments or tight belts, both of which promote acid reflux. I managed to get through this answer without mentioning a single medicine, not even Tums.
The booklet on GERD — heartburn — provides an insight into this common malady and its treatment. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 501W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery
DEAR DR. DONOHUE:
I have an adult son who has had a sore on the side of his nose for many months. I have pestered him to see a doctor, but he won’t. He says it stays there because he picks at it. Is that a suitable explanation? — W.M.
ANSWER: Any sore that doesn’t heal deserves a doctor’s examination. A nonhealing sore is a sign of skin cancer.
I’ve told the story of my grandfather many times. He had a sore on the side of his nose, and he neglected to take care of it. He put a salve on it that he got from a traveling salesman. The sore was a cancer, and he lost that side of his nose.
My other advice to your son is to stop picking the sore.
Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. ©2010 North America Synd.