May 29th, 2012
by Jodi · Filed Under: General Health
I went to school for biomedical engineering at Northeastern University and at that time it was not an actual major because it was just bursting on to the scene of engineering so I had to major in both mechanical engineering and biology to make it happen. At Northeastern, you had the option of doing Co-op jobs for full quarters (they were a quarter based school back then) with top companies that came to campus to recruit cheap labor. The thing that most people do not realize about Co-op jobs is that they really are more like temp work than internships. So you go work for someone for 3 or 6 months and then go back to school. It was very intimidating to be honest.
Because I had a dual degree focus (I dropped Biology my senior year—long story) at that time, I could take anything for a job because I had such an eclectic background so I chose to work in a biomedical company on the manufacturing floor doing quality assurance. The man who interviewed me for the position was the nicest guy ever and I was to work directly for him which made it a no-brainer as to my decision of whether to work there or not. He seemed so laid back and he had a great sense of humor. Part of me thought that would be bad for both of us because we’d never get anything done laughing our heads off. Well it was not to be because the first week of me being on the job, my cool guy bled out on his bathroom floor and went on a 6 month sabbatical that he ended up making permanent by not coming back. Why did this happen to the nicest guy ever? NSAIDs.
NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aka Motrin, Advil, Aspirin and Aleve), are over the counter miracle workers that help every athlete/gym rat through their injuries and painful times. They are essential to our everyday living but they are as caustic as a mofo. For most us, we pop them like candy: 800 mg here, 600 mg there…400 mg every 4 hours til the inflammation goes down. Very few of us ever think of the long term effects of these drugs and yet they do some serious damage long term.
Most of the time that I talk to folks they will say, “I never take anything. It makes me sick to my stomach.” Or they’ll say they ‘don’t like to take anything.’ But then in casual conversation, they’ll tell me they’re popping Motrin like breath mints. Umm…which is it? And why would I care? Here are the last of the gut ailments I see you ladies with:
Chronic Erosive Gastritis
What is it? Inflammation of the stomach or said more succinctly: OUCH!
Normal Causes: H. Pylori in the gut but it needs a catalyst. H. Pylori alone won’t do it. Typically stress triggers it.
Notable Cause: Too long of exposure of tummy to NSAIDs irritates the lining of the tummy. The mucous layer is slowly removed which in turns exposes the lining to these drugs and over time it is debilitating.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
What is it? Mucous lining of the small intestine becomes too porous allowing food to get through. In other words, the screen door blew off the house and now the bugs are getting in. Ewww.
Normal Causes: Stress, eating too fast, overeating.
Notable Cause: NSAIDs causing irritation of the intestinal tract. Using them for long periods of time blocks the body’s natural ability to repair intestinal lining.
Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
What is it? A digestive disorder in which partially digested food from the stomach, along with hydrochloric acid and enzymes, back up in the esophagus. Liken this to a nasty traffic jam in the chest.
Normal Causes: A sphincter gives way allowing things to come back up.
Notable Cause: NSAIDs. They irritate the lining of the esophagus the same way they do the lining of the tummy and the intestines. OY!
The treatment looks the same for all them: BACK IT DOWN. Very simple…see? But who really knows it’s not that simple and it’s not that cut and dry either? Here are some things we need to think about:
- We are high stress by nature so we are prone to GERD and gastritis.
- Working out too close to when we just ate exacerbates GERD.
- Researches think that 2/3 of all autoimmunes come from activity in the gut.
- We are more than likely creating our food allergies from our own food that we eat because it keeps passing through our intestines undigested.
- There is no diagnosis for leaky gut but they assume you have it when you keep cropping up with more and more autoimmunes.
- It would be wise for us to rotate the NSAIDs we use: Motrin vs. Aleve vs. Tylenol so that we can avoid this from happening as much as possible.
- If we don’t need to take them, don’t. Save them for injuries and severe PMS.
- When we do take them, keep track of how much and how often. This is the easiest way to spot abuse.
- There is no limit as to how much is too much—it’s highly individual.
My guy ended up being alright and he came by to visit me on my second Co op at that company. I often wonder how that would have turned out had he stayed because essentially I took his job while he was gone. So much for being trained… I was thrown right in to the lion’s den. But I learned at an early age how destructive these seemingly innocent OTCs can be. Like I mentioned in the first post of this series, we are supposed to be the healthy ones. Be mindful of what you are doing/eating because many of the fixes of these problems we already put in practice so we escalate straight to medical intervention. Let’s avoid that shall we?
More to come!! Hang tight! Woop woop!