Most people experience occasional heartburn but millions of people experience a more serious condition often referred to as GERD, an acronym for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease.
What is GERD, is it the same as Acid Reflux? The answer is YES
Naturally GERD and Acid Reflux refer to the same problem where liquid contents in the stomach spew up (or refluxes in an upward movement into the esophagus). This happens when the muscles at the lower esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes. This in turn is triggered by some factors such as the food we eat and the beverage we consume. This little backsplash of acid can injure the lining of the esophagus which can actually cause pain and discomfort and when untreated, can even lead to serious complications.
Causes of GERD
Impaired stomach function
Most people who suffer from GERD have abnormal nerves or muscle functions in the abdomen which cause slow absorption of food and stomach acid. Due to the imbalance in the abdominal function, there is delay in emptying stomach contents. As a result of this, the pressure in the stomach increase leading to regurgitation of acid.
Medications may cause acid reflux
There are several medicines and over-the-counter prescriptions can increase the risk of acid reflux and even worsen the symptoms. Some examples are dopamine, antibiotics, potassium, calcium channel blockers, iron pills and others.
Asthma may cause GERD
The relationship between GERD and asthmas is not fully understood; though more than half of those suffering from of GERD also have asthma. Asthma is a medical condition that affects the respiratory system and is manifested in form of wheezing.
Certain types of foods
Foods and beverages that are consumed are the major factors leading to the cause of GERD. Fatty foods, acidic and spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato products, soda, coffee, tea and alcohols should be avoided generally. These kinds of foods and beverages either weakens or relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Cigarettes and alcoholic drink
As earlier stated, cigarettes, tobacco, alcoholic drinks can cause acid reflux. Being under stress and wearing certain clothes can lead reflux of acid in the stomach. Taking alcoholic drink and smoking should be limited or totally stopped. Wearing tight clothing around the waist increase pressure in the stomach.
It’s not only what you eat, but how you eat. Bad eating habits can cause the acid in the stomach to reflux Postures like bending over while eating, talking, moving from one place to the other during meal , lying down immediately after eating heavy dinner are very dangerous and do certainly lead to acid influx. Ensure you keep your stomach comfortable and light before bedtime.
Symptoms of GERD
Burning sensation which radiates from the stomach into the chest and throat is the most common symptom of GERD. Other symptoms may include:
- Difficulty when swallowing.
- A patient may experience pain behind or below the breastbone. .
- They may vomit at night and liquid may be inhaled into the lungs.
- Excess saliva
- bad breath
- Sore throat, or Coughing (sometimes excessively),
- Short breath or any combination of these symptoms may occur.
- Acid in the mouth can also cause erosion of tooth enamel on the surface of teeth.
A study revealed that almost three-quarters of patients with frequent GERD problems experience their most complicated symptoms at night. To fully become aware of the GERD disease, you need to understand that the major problem starts from eating too much in the evening before bedtime. To resolve the problem, diet can be adjusted to substitute heavy meal for lighter meal in the evening. Typically one should not eat two to three hours before bedtime and its best not to lie down immediately after eating.
Additional factors which may contribute to GERD include being overweight, smoking, pregnancy, use of certain medications and eating foods that can stimulate the condition of GERD. There are certain types of foods which do not support GERD. It is best to avoid meals high in complex carbohydrates and fat. Also avoid wearing clothing that fits too tight across the midsection of the body.
Treatment for Acid Reflux
In order to lessen the occurrence of acid reflux or GERD disease, you first need to become aware of the type of foods that causes it. These are fatty and spicy foods, caffeinated drinks, citrus and tomato products, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, peppermint and onions. Eating heavy meals at night, vigorous exercises, lying down after a meal, wearing tight clothing, bending over while smoking are also other factors that can trigger reflux. Acid reflux can be treated through a combination of diet, home remedies, over the counter medications, and in worst cases, surgery.
Avoid foods that trigger it
Consuming foods that are beneficial is the best way to treat this disorder. Avoid taking red meat of all kinds especially pork. Take only lean beef, turkey and chicken. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Attitude to your daily life
There are modification that can be done to your daily lifestyle which can help cope with the distress caused by acid influx. It does not matter the gravity of the disorder, the first step in managing it is to analyse the sort of life you live. This is the fastest and low cost method of curing acid reflux, you just need to determine to let go of some things by taking some few steps below.
One of the advices doctors generally give if they diagnose a patient with GERD is to “quit smoking”. It slows the production of saliva which is often too bad because saliva aids digestion. Smoking also weakens the digestive valves and damages the esophageal area. The same is applicable to alcoholic beverages.
Exercise regularly. A balanced approach to exercise is essential for GERD patients. Exercise like brisk walking, light jogging and aerobics can go a long way to prevent or lessen the occurrence of GERD. Relax and engage in activities you enjoy most. The rate of food digestion slows down when you are under stress which, could heighten the risk of reflux. Learn to relax and have fun. It is highly important for the overall wellbeing of the body.
An obese individual should try as much as possible to lose weight as extra fats in the abdomen lead to increased pressure thereby resulting to reflux.
Medicines for GERD
These medicines can heal the lining of the esophagus, relieve the symptoms and prevent complications. GERD, cannot be cured at present but it can be maintained with the use of medications. The medicines prescribed for GERD fall into two groups – antacids such as magnesium hydroxide, aluminium hydroxide, calcium carbonate and the combination of magnesium-aluminium hydroxide for mild symptoms and medicines that decrease or inhibit the production of stomach acid such as cimetidine, ranitidine and famotidine which are histamine H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole and rabeprazole.
There are home cures and remedies which provide effective result.
- Taking a teaspoon of honey before bedtime is of then quick remedy to GERD. Honey has natural compound which is able to mend the esophageal wall to bring almost instant relief.
- Aloe vera is also known to have the ability to heal the esophageal lining. It can be taken in form of juice extract and capsule.
- Chewing a gum after eating is another home remedy. Chewing gums help the production of saliva, which aids in digestion.
- Other drug-free home remedies include papaya enzymes, chewing almonds and a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water. Your diet is also extremely crucial for curing your reflux.
NB: During the course of your natural treatment, you should only eat soft foods.
GERD and Diet
Understanding GERD and diet will prevent its occurrence as well as relieve painful symptoms. When diagnosed of GERD, it important to watch what you eat, when and how much food you consume. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes as large food is consumed and this leads to the production of more acid. It is also advised not to eat two or three hours before going to bed.
Appropriate diet to take
Healthy foods that can be eaten when suffering from GERD are low calorie food, different kinds of fruits and vegetables including fat-free milk or a low-fat milk are recommended The foods you eat should contain little or no added sugar. The percentage of calories for the day’s meals from saturated fats shouldn’t exceed 8 to 1O percent. Sodium should be limited to 2400 milligrams per day. The calories that must be consumed should only be enough to keep the level of cholesterol down and maintain a healthy weight.
One important thing you should also know about diet and GERD is to try out the possible food that can lead to its occurrence if you are not so sure about the type of food in particular. If it increases the symptoms, then such food should be avoided.