There are ridges in the esophagus that work in-sync to push food down to the stomach. However, acid erosion over time wears these ridges down so they can't 'grab' and push the food along. If food is not chewed well, and there is narrowing of the esophagus from inflammation, food can stick momentarily and cause choking, coughing, or strangling. If the esophageal valve between the esophagus and the stomach is damaged, it may not close properly and will allow stomach acids to reflux up into the esophagus. The problem will get worse over time if the reflux continues. Taking antacids cause other problems. They neutralize enzymes that aid in digesting and absorbing nutrients from foods. Here are some ideas that should help eliminate the need for antacids:
1. Eat slowly, take small bites, and chew thoroughly. Don't gulp or 'wolf' your food down or eat on-the-run.
2. Avoid dense foods that have to be chewed a lot, such as beef. My Mother can eat chopped beef, but steak or roast is very problematic for her. I must be careful when eating nut butters.
3. Eat small meals and eat more often. Graze through the day; making sure you’re getting in the necessary food groups and nutrients. Heavy meals where you feel 'full' will typically aggravate a reflux problem. A full stomach will put pressure on the esophageal valve. That's why I eat only on 8" plates. It keeps me from overloading the stomach. Americans have a bad habit of overeating.
4. Avoid high fat/greasy foods. Fat relaxes the esophageal sphincter and allow acids to back up into the esophagus. You can (and should) take fish oil to get the healthy oils into your diet.
5. For weaning off acid reflux medication, follow the suggestions in: http://www.austinscdfriends.com/articles/article/3691417/53991.htm
Once you’ve learned which foods and habits trigger or exacerbate symptoms, you will likely have no more serious problems.
In this interesting article http://www.sts.org/doc/4120 the writer says he doesn't know what causes motility problems. Of course, a procedure to stretch the esophagus is always an option. However, I would consider an invasive procedure an absolute LAST resort . . . as there is always the risk of rupture involved and it sets you up for repeat procedures. It seems to me there's a possibility that stretching the esophagus could even cause more scarring and possible narrowing. The last surgery I had, my throat and vocal range changed as a result of the tube down the throat. I don’t relish the thought of that invasion again unless absolutely necessary. Why take unnecessary risks, anyway?
We can have erosion/reflux without realizing it. I had it for years and didn't know it. If an antacid keeps you from choking, coughing, and strangling, I would presume you still have reflux (GERD). If you tend to cough after eating or when you lie down or bend over, or you wake in the mornings with a really bad taste in your mouth, you still have reflux and should keep checking for foods that trigger it. Tweaking of the SCD foods can help identify and remove foods that do not digest properly in the stomach or gut, heal us, and maximize digestion . . . so we don’t have to live indefinitely on medications for these symptoms.