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Pressure to thorax can relieve heartburn

Peter H. Gott, M.D.

Dear Dr. Gott: I have suffered with heartburn since I was in my teens. I’m now 61 years old and have taken antacids for years. About 10 years ago, my doctor recommended a technique to curb heartburn. I thought it was ridiculous and never tried it until about three months ago. I was in church and experienced heartburn coming on. I had to do something. So, out of desperation, I tried the technique my doctor recommended 10 years prior. It worked great, and I have not taken an antacid since.

I simply use both hands to press just below my sternum and continue pressing down to my stomach for about 30 seconds, three different times. I don’t know why the method works, but it does. When I feel heartburn coming on, I begin the technique, and before I know it, the symptoms disappear. Now I don’t have to use the technique as much as I did at the onset. I wish I had listened to my doctor 10 years ago, but I want to pass this hint along to help others who have heartburn as badly as I did.

Dear reader: Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation in the esophagus that usually occurs just below the breastbone and may travel upward, causing a sour, bile taste in the mouth. It happens mainly when the contents of the stomach flow backward into the esophagus. Secondary causes include an excess of stomach acid or the presence of a peptic ulcer.

At one time or another, we all experience heartburn from eating fried, fatty or spicy foods. An over-the-counter antacid that neutralizes stomach acids is often all that is necessary for relief. More severe cases may require physician-prescribed medications.

Most people with related conditions prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing. Your remedy works in reverse by applying pressure to the thorax. Perhaps you are, in effect, forcing the stomach contents back down where they belong, thus relieving the symptoms. I’m printing your “church remedy” so others might be able to benefit from it and report back to me. I’ll accumulate and publish their findings.

In the interim, I suggest you avoid offending foods and excessive alcohol, discontinue or reduce possible smoking habits, and allow adequate time after meals before lying down.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Hiatal Hernia, Acid Reflux and Indigestion.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dear Dr. Gott: My wife uses several prescription and nonprescription medications that are often quite outdated. One is E-Mycin topical solution 2 percent that expired in June 1995. Can you comment on the use of these drugs?

Dear reader: As a rule, many drugs remain effective long after the recommended date of expiration. In part, this depends on how and where they have been stored and what they are for. Research has proven that some drugs remain completely effective 10 years after the stated date. If your wife is using a topical cream that is providing effective results, let her continue. In this situation, the worst that can happen is that the area she is treating will not improve with treatment.

To play it safe on any other drugs, you might feel more comfortable checking with your wife’s physician.

Dr. Peter Gott is a retired physician and the author of the book “Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Diet.” Write to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th fl., New York, NY 10016.
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