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Infactual Articles » 2008 » March

Archive for March, 2008

What Causes Heartburn?

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 20th, 2008

Acid reflux, commonly called heartburn, may be connected with a number of health issues such as IBS, but have you ever wondered what causes heartburn (heart burn)?  After all, heartburn isn’t the only symptom of acid reflux, so why is it the most frequent symptom associated with it?

Heartburn is the most common sign of acid reflux because it is one of the symptoms of this condition that can truly be felt by the sufferer.  Heartburn occurs when gastric acid has remained in the lower esophagus for a prolonged period of time.  The irritation the acid inflicts on the esophagus causes the sufferer to feel an uncomfortable, and often painful burning sensation behind the breastbone, which can rise to the level of the throat.  

Heartburn occurs when the muscle valve between the esophagus and stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), fails to close while the stomach is digesting food.  When the LES opens during digestion, acid can be refluxed into the esophagus and heartburn is often the end result.  When the LES fails, this is often because it has become weakened.  There are many causes that can weaken the LES.  In fact many of these causes are the same factors that can make heartburn worse.

What can make heartburn worse?  There are many dietary and lifestyle factors that can cause heartburn flare-ups to be prolonged, frequent, or intense.  The following are the most common factors:

- Caffeine.  Drinks or foods that contain caffeine including regular and decaffeinated coffee and tea, soda, energy drinks and chocolate. 

- Fatty and spicy foods.  Red meats, deep fried and processed foods, spicy foods such as chili and curry.  These foods stay in the stomach longer and slow down digestion which places pressure on the LES.

- Tomatoes.  Tomato and tomato based products including sauces and juice.  Tomatoes relax the LES.

- Raw onion.  Raw onion does not appear to cause acid reflux in those who do not have it, but it often makes heartburn worse in those who suffer from the condition, especially when eaten in high quantities.

- Citrus fruits citrus juices.  Oranges, grapefruits, lemon, lime, etc.  Citrus relaxes the LES.

- Peppermint.  Mint candy, mint tea, or mint ice cream.  Peppermint is beneficial for the digestive system, but it relaxes the LES.

- Milk.  Milk is believed to help heartburn sufferers find relief from their symptoms because it can work as an instant antacid.  However, relief is often only temporary, as the calcium and protein in milk stimulate the production of acid, which can make your heartburn return worse in as little as 30 minutes of ingesting milk.

- Alcohol.  Wine, beer, liquors, spirits.  Alcohol relaxes the LES and also increases acid production in the stomach.

- Tobacco.  Smoking cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco weaken the LES and decrease saliva production.  Saliva helps to neutralize stomach acid.

- Large meals.  A large meal is any meal that leaves you to feeling ‘stuffed’ or ‘bloated’.  Large meals can promote an increase in acid production, slow digestion, and place pressure on the LES.

- Eating within 2 – 3 hours before bed.  Lying down directly after eating pushes the contents of the stomach against the LES.  Furthermore, when you sleep, all of your muscles naturally relax including the LES, which is why acid reflux is often worse at nighttime.

- Strenuous exercising.  Sit-ups, stomach crunches, etc.  Exercises that are tough on the abdominal muscles stress the stomach and the LES.  Furthermore, bending after eating can also make heartburn heart burn worse.

- Tight clothing.  Tight pants, girdles, corsets, belts.  Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen squeezes the stomach and can force food up against the lower esophageal sphincter, forcing it to open.

- Excess weight.  Being overweight or obese places stress on the stomach which then places stress on the LES causing it to weaken.

- Medication.  Some medications can make heartburn worse including:
* Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.)
* Anticholinergic drugs (antihistamines and urinary tract disorders)
* Calcium channel blockers (high blood pressure)
* Nitrates (angina)
* Beta-2 agonists (asthma)
* Tricyclic (antidepressants)
* Diazepam(seizures and anxiety disorders)

If you are taking any medication for another health condition, talk to your doctor to find out if your medication is making your heartburn (heart burn) worse.

Grab your free copy of Kathryn Whittaker’s brand new Acid Reflux & GERD Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you find out about heartburn (heart burn) and for information on the cause of heartburn please visit Stop Acid Reflux Now

Do You Have Autism Attention Deficit Disorder Confusion?

Posted in Health & Fitness on March 6th, 2008

Though it is not known why autism, attention deficit disorder, as well as other autism spectrum conditions have become increasingly common, their instances have continued to rise substantially over the past few decades. The controversy surrounding this issue is currently escalating as quickly as the rate of instances.  Another challenge is the diagnosis – and misdiagnosis – of these conditions, leading to common autism attention deficit confusion. 

The term “autism” covers a broad range of conditions and symptoms ranging dramatically in their severity, causing it to frequently be referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  ASD includes autism itself, Asperger’s syndrome, as well as other pervasive developmental disorders.  It does not, however, include attention deficit disorder (ADD) nor attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Nevertheless, the autism attention deficit confusion remains due to the similarity frequently witnessed in the symptoms of each condition.  As there is no single specified group of symptoms that occurs in every instance of either autism or attention deficit disorder it can make them hard to diagnose, especially for the lay person. 

The key to making sure that the right diagnosis is achieved, and that autism and attention deficit confusion is avoided, is to understand the signs and symptoms of both disorders.  Self-education is a parent’s best tool for understanding what he or she is and is not facing in their child. 

Both conditions will present in the same way at the beginning, both socially and biologically. Both conditions include a lacking in the executive functions (planning, decision-making and response control) within the brain’s frontal lobes, and have a number of shared symptoms.  Even autism and attention deficit disorder research have similarities in the behaviors and behavioral processes that are studied and believed to be linked to impairments in brain functioning.  Furthermore, both conditions include a form of deficiency in both fine and gross motor skills. 

However, despite these commonalities in symptoms, autism and ADD confusion is just that – a confusion between two entirely different disorders. That being said, when ADD and ADHD are diagnosed, doctors will not routinely screen for autism.   The onus is placed upon parents, teachers, and other caregivers to observe behaviors that deviate from ADD, and to identify a narrower perspective with regards to the child’s behavioral issues. 

Should misdiagnosis be suspected, it is wise for parents to familiarize themselves with the various behaviors common to both autism and ADD and then to recognize the differences. 

Behaviors frequently seen in autistic children include:

- Difficulty socializing with other children the same or different ages.
- Difficulty socializing with adults
- Lack of fear of danger
- Tantrums - showing large degrees of distress for no clear reason
- Inappropriate laughing
- Dislike of cuddling
- Little to no eye contact made
- Notable physical over- or under-activity
- Uneven fine and/or gross motor skills
- Impulsive working habits with frequent sloppiness and careless mistakes

On the other hand, behaviors frequently seen in children with ADD or ADHD include:

- Inability to speak or play quietly; disruptive in speech or behaviors
- Struggles to wait his or her turn in a game, line, or other similar activity
- Takes part in activities with a high risk of danger
- A lack of normal consideration for caution or consequences
- Extreme temper tantrums
- Disruptive, interrupting, speaking and behaving inappropriately
- Difficulty being held or soothed when very young
- Always active and moving, even while asleep
- Doesn’t appear to be listening when directly spoken to
- Uneven fine and/or gross motor skills
- Doesn’t pay attention to finder details and makes careless mistakes in tasks

With these lists of symptoms, it is clear to see why misdiagnosis and autism attention deficit confusion is so common.  Vigilance and education are the keys to overcoming these errors.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans’ brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about Autism Attention Deficit Disorder links and for information on autism therapies please visit The Essential Guide To Autism