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All you need to know about GERD

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GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease commonly called GERD is a cause of consistent and frequent acid reflux. This disease can usually be self – diagnosed while treatment needs to be carried under a trained and experienced medical professional. GERD though common is not recognized by many; several people dismiss the symptoms which in the long run may further cause severe problems.

Ever had a belly burn after a really good and heavy meal? that is an acid reflux. GERD is often referred to as long term acid reflux that is, if a person experiences acid reflux more than twice a week, it generally is a call for a more serious underlying condition called GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a chronic disease that is a cause of the stomach acid ( HCl ) which used for churning and breaking down food or the Bile in the stomach flows into the esophagus ( the lining of the food pipe ) causing irritation, distress and heartburns. If GERD is left untreated, it can give rise to critical conditions like tissue damage in the esophageal lining causing tear in the food pipe and further leading to accumulation of acid / bile which in some cases have also proven to be cancerous, thus a causative to malignancies like stomach cancer, intestinal cancer or the more common cancer of the esophagus.

SYMPTOMS OF GERD:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is common in a lot of people especially owing to the unhealthy food habits today; they show a number of peculiar symptoms in people suffering from this disease.

  • Heartburn. (One of the most common symptoms seen in almost all patients suffering from GERD).
  • Regurgitation (throwing up, bringing swallowed food up)
  • Nausea
  • Belching (emitting air from the stomach through the mouth most often noisily)
  • Bloody / black stools
  • Extreme bloating or sudden weight loss
  • Bitter taste in the mouth, dry cough and upper abdominal discomfort have also been noticed in a number of patients.

TREATING GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE:

Although self diagnosable, the treatment options vary over the intensity of harm caused by stomach acids. Usually there are 2 ways one to approach this disease,

Self medicated:

Dietary changes including the consumption of healthy low fat diet with more green vegetables , elevating head while sleeping and weight management are few precautions or treatments that may help if not, one must seek the advice of a medical professional.

Medications:

Usually an antacid is given to the patient to help nullify the stomach acids lining the esophagus where as anti-diarrhoeal medications are prescribed to reduce symptoms. However, these medications may not be enough hence a proton pump inhibitor that helps in decreasing the release of the stomach acids is also given in combination for better results.

HOW TO AVOID GERD / ACID REFLUX?

Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease may be a causative of a number of complications like heavy lifestyle changes, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress related factors, consumption of certain foods, etc.  some of the do’s and don’ts mentioned below help reduce the risks of undergoing acid reflux / GERD.

DO’S

  • Maintain healthy weight. Cut down on excess fat in your body by eating healthy and giving your body the exercise it needs.
  • Elevate your head and shoulders while sleeping. Keep a gap of at least 1.5 hours to 2 hours between meals and naps or sleep times. And elevate your head and shoulders whenever you sleep this will help prevent backflow of food from your stomach to the food pipe.
  • Wear lose and comfortable clothes. This gives space for proper respiration and digestion.
  • Eat small portions of meals regularly and throughout the day. Eating small portions in small intervals gives the consumed food time to digest also keeping your stomach full.

DON’TS

  • Avoid laying down directly after consuming a meal. When you sleep right after you’ve eaten, the contents of your meal in your stomach are pushed back into your food tract causing heart burn and acid reflux.
  • Avoid / limit the consumption of alcohol. Most alcohol but especially red wine are studied to be a frequent cause of acid refluxes or GERD. Consumption of wine, or other alcoholic beverages must be limited particularly during meals to help a better digestion of food.
  • Other carbonated drinks and beverages as well at times may lead to acid reflux hence they too should be avoided.
  • Keep away from high fat food. High fat food like cheese, fried food, butter, whole milk etc. also meat with high fat content for example beacon, pork, beef, etc. are an extremely common cause of heartburns that may lead to GERD
  • Limit the consumption of tomatoes and other citrus foods including orange, pineapple, lemon, etc. this helps prevent heart burn like symptoms.
  • Keep spicy food and herbs like garlic, onion to the minimum. Try using these in limited amounts putting you at minimum risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease. And if you have GERD, soothing your symptoms.

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