If you’ve ever had heartburn or GERD, you will know that it can really give you a hard time.
It might even affect how you eat. But there is good news-there are all sorts of treatment options out there.
This article is going to go over the various ways to help and treat your GERD and make life a little better.
Acid reflux is the most common digestive problem in the world today. It affects not only adults, but also children and teens.
It can take over your life and make you worry about eating the wrong foods or drinking the wrong beverages.
In fact, it’s estimated that over 4 % of children in the United States have GERD.
This is a problem that could be affecting you or someone you know.
Here is a blog post that teaches you how to treat it, improve it and prevent it.
The term GERD stands for Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
It is a condition that affects the esophagus– the muscular tube that starts at the top of the throat and connects it to the stomach.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is caused by the stomach’s contents coming up into the esophagus.
If these contents stay in the esophagus, they can lead to serious damage. The symptoms of GERD include persistent heartburn, chest pain, and trouble swallowing.
If this occurs at least once a week, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation.
Difference Between Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Acid Reflux?
If you are experiencing a burning feeling in your chest, you probably already know you’re experiencing heartburn.
Heartburn is not a condition on its own, and it has nothing to do with the heart.
Instead, it is the main symptom one experiences when suffering from acid reflux, which is when stomach contents come back up in your esophagus.
Often the reason for this is easily identified.
For example, if you have eaten an extremely chilli heavy dinner or consumed a large amount of fizzy cooldrink, you may activate symptoms of acid reflux.
If this is happening on a regular basis (multiple times per week) it could be an indication that you’re suffering from a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Understanding the differences between acid reflux and GERD involves understanding the links between each.
Symptoms of GERD
This chronic digestive disorder causes irritation or inflammation of the esophagus.
There are some common symptoms of GERD as follows:
- Sore throat
- Ear problems
- Abdominal Pain
- Choking Episodes
Should you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor for a consultation.
Causes of GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach contents rise up into the esophagus and irritate the lining of the esophagus.
This is more common in people who have weak stomach muscles, a hiatal hernia, and esophagitis.
The most common triggers include:
- Anxiety and Stress: Stress and anxiety can cause muscle spasms and tightening in the chest, which can affect the movement of food and acid.
- Lifestyle: eating too quickly, eating large or heavy meals, lying down right after eating or drinking, bending over, or lifting something
- Eating disorders, weight loss surgery, smoking, and certain medications can also cause GERD. A person with GERD may experience pain in the chest, known as heartburn. The nerves of the chest are affected by GERD.
How to Evaluate GERD
GERD affects an estimated 6% of the US population.
Patients with chronic GERD may suffer from gastritis, erosive esophagitis, or Barrett’s esophagus.
There are many things that can cause GERD. The most common cause of GERD is a hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia occurs when the lower part of the stomach moves up into the chest cavity.
When this happens, it can cause a vacuum effect that places pressure on the esophagus.
Medical tests can vary depending on the severity of GERD symptoms.
The first step is to visit a doctor and discuss symptoms and try to pinpoint a probable cause.
A doctor will order a medical examination, which includes:
- Upper Endoscopy – Your doctor inserts a thin flexible tube equipped with a light and camera (endoscope) down your throat, to examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach
- Ambulatory acid (pH) probe test – pH probe study is a test that uses a thin probe or tube placed in the esophagus or food pipe that connects the mouth to the stomach to help your doctor diagnose and treat acid reflux.
- Esophageal manometry – a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that contains pressure sensors is passed through your nose, down your esophagus and into your stomach. Esophageal manometry can be helpful in diagnosing certain disorders that can affect your esophagus.
- X-ray of your upper digestive system
People who experience GERD may find relief through over-the-counter medicines, such as the anti-acid pills that are typically sold in pharmacies.
Treatments for GERD
There are various ways to treat GERD, including lifestyle changes and medication.
Medications can be helpful when GERD episodes are severe and frequent.
Medications may include: H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and antacids.
There are many different treatments for GERD, but there are some that are more common than others.
Some are gastrointestinal medications, others are surgical treatments, treatments are medications that are oral or inhalational.
There are different treatments for GERD. Experts recommend lifestyle changes, such as not wearing tight clothes around the waist while sitting, not eating large meals or fatty foods before bedtime, drinking more water, and possibly changing positions while sleeping.
The most commonly prescribed medication for GERD is Prevacid, Nexium or Prilosec.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce GERD
Lifestyle changes to reduce GERD include the following:
- Quit smoking
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Eating smaller meals more often
- Avoiding foods and drinks that trigger your GERD
- Elevate the head of your bed
- Don’t lie down after a meal
- Eat food slowly and chew thoroughly
- Avoid foods and drinks that trigger reflux
- Avoid tight fitting clothing
If you are pregnant, these changes will also help reduce the risk of developing GERD.
Non-Medical Treatments of GERD
Fortunately, there are some good home remedies for GERD which can be used to treat this disease.
These remedies are affordable and safe. One way to help with GERD is to eat ginger.
This has an anti-spasmodic effect that can both help to digest food and fight GERD.
You can put ginger in tea, ginger snaps, ginger ale, or ginger cookies.
Another way to treat GERD is with cumin. This is because cumin aids in digestion and helps to suppress an acid reflex in the stomach.
Many of the non-medical treatments for acid reflux listed have proven to be effective in many cases, and the remainder of them have received scientific study which shows that they may be helpful.
However, it’s important to remember that non-medical treatments are often only a temporary fix for acid reflux symptoms and should not be seen as replacements for medication prescribed by your doctor.
If you are concerned about mild or already frequent bouts of heartburn, talk to us today about the possibility that you are suffering from GERD.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.
© Dr. Eduan Deetlefs, Registered Gastroenterologist, GI Doc Cape Town
Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.