Our expert says:
Heartburn, acid reflux and also stomach ulcers, are caused by excess acid production in the stomach and if the patient has food in the stomach this give the acid something it can work on instead of attacking the stomach lining. In fact, the use of 6 smaller meals a day is a good idea when suffering from heartburn or ulcers because this would mean that the patient practically always has some food in his stomach to prevent acid erosion. Try to should split up your daughter's main meals into 2 smaller meals each. One of the most important factors in excess acid production and heartburn is stress. I suspect that if someone as young as 15 develops ulcers, that she is stressed out of her mind at the moment. If she suffers from heartburn, she will have to experiment with the foods she eats that may cause problems (raw onions, garlic, cucumber, green peppers, very spicy foods and condiments, gas-cold drinks, very fatty foods, etc and all alcohol). This is often an individual reaction and she will have to keep a food diary to see what foods cause this problem and then cut them out. If she finds that this is too difficult, then please take her to consult a clinical dietitian (visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: www.adsa.org.za and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area), who will help her pinpoint trigger foods and work out a diet that avoids them. To relieve stress, I would recommend that she should learn relaxing techniques, how to do deep breathing exercises and some form of physical exercise which is also relaxing, such as yoga. Going for brisk walks in the fresh air also helps to relieve tension. Because of her youth and the fact that she may not be able to communicate what is causing the stress in her life, I would also recommend that you arrange for your daughter to see a clinical psychologist (ask your gp to recommend a psychologist), because it is most distressing to hear of such a young person suffering from ulcers.
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