Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): All You Need to Know

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a man is holding his chest due to pain. It also contains descriptive texts
get to know all about acid reflux and its related information

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), also known as chronic acid reflux, is a type of situation in which the acid in the stomach flows to the esophagus. This condition can affect anyone, at any point in their life and is quite common to have it once or twice a week. However, if you get it more frequently, you should seek the help of a professional and get yourself diagnosed properly. This condition is caused due to a weak or damaged valve between the stomach and the esophagus. If too much acid comes into the esophagus, it can cause tissue damage.

Symptoms of GERD

  • Sour and bitter taste
  • Backward flow of food or water into the mouth
  • Heaviness in the chest
  • Chronic cough
  • Bad breath
  • Nausea or vomiting

Acid Reflux can sometimes present with atypical symptoms, such as a persistent cough, hoarseness, or a chronic sore throat, without the typical heartburn or regurgitation, making it challenging to diagnose. This condition is known as “silent reflux” or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Causes of GERD

If your bottom esophageal sphincter does not function well, you may experience acid reflux. When the sphincter does not open or close properly, some contents from your stomach such as digestive juices may flow backward to your food pipe and cause acid reflux. This malfunctioning of the lower esophageal sphincter happens if you have a hernia, eat too much, do not move after eating, etc.

If you are obese, pregnant or if you have connective tissue disorders, even then you may experience GERD.

Anxiety, asthma, IBS, etc. can also make you feel bloated and trigger GERD. Along with this, drinking too much alcohol may also put you at a greater risk of GERD.

Moreover, there are certain types of foods such as those high in fats, spicy foods, citrus fruits, tea, coffee, etc. may also increase your chances of getting GERD.

Diagnosis of GERD

When you visit a healthcare professional to get your condition examined, he may ask several questions related to your symptoms, medical history, family medical background, etc. He may also conduct a few physical examinations to assess your condition.

Treatment of GERD

Initially, one can start by adopting below-mentioned home remedies to manage and relieve the symptoms of GERD:

  • Practice some breathing exercises to improve the functioning of your lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Food items such as high-fiber foods, alkaline foods, ginger, apple cider vinegar, etc. can help
  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Avoid smoking
  • Do not eat too much at night
  • Do not lie down just after eating

However, even after trying the above-mentioned remedies if you do not feel good, you might need to take certain medications to decrease the excess production of acid. Generally recommended medicines include proton pump inhibitors, antacids, etc.

Most people are able to manage their symptoms and fight GERD with the help of the above methods. But in rare cases, surgery might be recommended if usual approaches do not work.

Complications of GERD

Most people with GERD may not experience any serious complications. However, some may experience inflammation in the food pipe, damage to the lining of the food pipe, erosion of the tooth enamel, gum diseases, etc.

How common is GERD?

This is a very common condition and affects around 14% of the world’s population and 20% of the U.S. population. People of any age may get GERD but elderly groups are at more risk. The occurrence of GERD is higher in people who are obese, pregnant, smoke frequently, etc.

Heartburn and Heart Attack

People often confuse the symptoms of heartburn with a heart attack. However, it must be noted that heartburn is not related to your heart and symptoms are also quite different. When you have heartburn, you may experience a burning sensation in the chest region that can travel up the neck and throat.

the image contains heart muscles and the stomach. it also highlights some symptoms of heart attack and heart burn in numbering format.
know the difference between symptoms of heart attack and heartburn to stay prepared for any future mishap.

And in case of heart attacks, you may feel pain in the arms, neck, jaws, etc. You may also begin to sweat a lot, and experience shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, etc.

GERD And Asthma

The exact link between asthma and GERD is unclear but it has been seen that close to 76% of people with asthma experience GERD. This acid reflux condition can make your asthma worse. As discussed above, the symptoms of GERD can damage the linings of the food pipe and make it difficult for you to breathe properly.

Prevention of GERD

  • If you are obese, maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Eat in small quantities
  • Do not lie down just after eating food
  • Limit the consumption of butter, oils, fatty meats, dairy products, etc.
  • Keep your back straight while eating and once you are done with your meal, sit with your back straight for 30 minutes
  • Wear loose clothes
  • Stop smoking
  • Take your medicines on time

Foods to Avoid if You Have GERD

  • Hot and Spicy Foods
  • Fried Foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Garlic and Onions
  • Alcohol and carbonated drinks
  • Citrus fruits

Keep in mind that you can easily manage the symptoms of GERD if you religiously follow the above tips. However, if you experience frequent acid reflux/heartburn, make sure to get in touch with your healthcare provider and get your issue resolved.

Disclaimer

This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals with expertise in writing for healthcare. The content on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise.


 

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