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How the president (and you) can ease acid reflux

ABOVE: President Obama, earlier this week in Nashville. | Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Over the weekend President Obama was told he’s suffering from acid reflux.

And you know what prompted No. 44’s visit to his doctor? A persistent sore throat over the last few weeks.

A lot of people don’t realize that sort of sore throat can be caused by acid reflux, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), its official name. What happens with GERD is the contents of a person’s stomach bubble back up from the stomach to the esophagus. This can irritate the esophagus and make it seem as if a person has a sore throat.

There are a number of things than can cause acid reflux, according to Dr. Mukund Venu, gastroenterologist at Loyola Medical Center. It’s not something that comes on with age, but obesity can trigger it, though that’s certainly not the president’s problem. Ah, but stress can be a factor. So can an irregular eating and sleeping schedule, said Venu. The president may have a bit of trouble changing any of these, but the rest of us can make some lifestyle fixes.

Dr. Mukund Venu

Foods and beverages are, of course, a factor, and those that should be avoided include spicy food, caffeine, carbonation, alcohol, citric acid, high fat, dairy and chocolate, according to Venu.

Other things can help, too. You can combat the symptoms if you don’t lie down within three hours of eating or sleep at a 45-degree angle, according to Venu. If obesity is triggering it, try to lose weight.

For some, lifestyle changes don’t help, according to Venu, and when that happens, proton pump inhibitors may need to be administered once a day, usually before breakfast.

GERD is a fairly common condition, affecting about 20 percent of Americans, according to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

But, “for proper diagnosis, an upper endoscopic exam should be conducted,” according to Venu. (It appears this was not done in Obama’s case because it would require anesthesia, which would mean a transfer of power to the vice president, and we know that was not done.)

“A diagnosis of acid reflux disease based on a throat exam and a CT scan, as in the president’s case, is disturbing to any board-certified gastroenterologist, ” Venu, assistant professor of medicine at the Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, said via email. “President Obama needs an upper endoscopic exam, in my academic medical opinion.”