Many people suffer GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease occasionally.
On the other hand, if an individual experiences acid reflux more than twice a week, then this is the sign of GERD.
While most individuals can manage the discomforts of GERD with lifestyle changes, some people with GERD might require medications or even undertake surgery.
It has been noted that not everyone with GERD does not experience has the same fundamental causes, symptoms, etc.
Still, there are some distinctive revealing signs of GERD.
In this blog post, we shall cover the symptoms, causes, treatments and much more about GERD.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD refers to an ailment where stomach acid repeatedly and regularly flows up into the oesophagus. This flow irritates the lining of your oesophagus.
Your health expert may also use the following terms for GERD:
1. Acid regurgitation
2. Acid indigestion
4. Acid reflux
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. Regular signs and symptoms of GERD include:
1. Strain in swallowing
3. Vomiting of food or sour liquid
4. A burning feeling in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating, which may get worse at night
5. The feeling of a lump in your throat
If you have acid reflux during night-time, then you may also experience:
1. Disturbed sleep
2. Chronic cough
4. New or worsening asthma
Causes and risk factors
While stomach acid helps digest food, but if flows back into the oesophagus, it leads to irritation and causes GERD.
A ring of muscle known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) keeps the top of your stomach closed. It only relaxes and opens when you are swallowing to let food through.
Various conditions influence the LES to relax and open up.
1. Gulping or eating a large meal
2. Consuming certain foods, including those high in fats, chocolate, peppermint & tomato.
3. Increased pressure on the abdomen due to obesity, or pregnancy
4. Side effects from certain medications
5. Smoking or passive smoke
6. Having a hiatal hernia, in which the opening of the diaphragm lets the upper part of the stomach move up into the chest. This reduces the pressure in the oesophageal sphincter.
There are several risk factors as well.
1. Intake of alcoholic, caffeinated, or carbonated beverages
2. Eating large meals
3. Eating soon before going to bed
4. Lying flat soon after eating
How can one diagnose GERD?
GERD diagnosis depends upon your symptoms and how often you have them. Your health expert will work with you to determine whether you have GERD.
A few diagnostic tests for GERD are as follows:
1. Oesophageal pH and Impedance Monitoring: The amount of acid is measured in your oesophagus while you are engaged in your day to day activities such as eating and sleeping.
2. Oesophageal Manometry: This test measures the muscle contractions in your oesophagus when you swallow food. It can specify whether your symptoms are due to a weak sphincter muscle.
3. Upper Digestive System X-Ray: This test is meant to let your doctor see a silhouette of your oesophagus, stomach, and upper intestine.
4. Upper endoscopy: In this test, the doctor inserts a thin tube with a committed light and camera down your throat. This allows for an examination of your oesophagus and stomach to identify inflammation or any other problems.
GERD treatments aim to reduce the amount of reflux and decrease the damage to the lining of the oesophagus from refluxed materials.
Your health care provider can offer you prescription medications to treat your symptoms.
1. Antacids: These medications can assist to neutralize stomach acid and provide quick relief. However, long term usage of antacids can bring side effects such as diarrhoea, build-up of magnesium, altered calcium metabolism, etc.
If you require antacids for more than two weeks, then consult your doctor.
2. H2 blockers: Your doctor may recommend lessening acid in the stomach, especially for chronic reflux and heartburn. H2 blockers include- nizatidine, cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid).
3. Prokinetics: These drugs help your stomach empty faster so that you don’t have much acid left in your stomach.
They can also help with symptoms such as bloating and nausea. Although, they can have serious side effects.
At Neotia Getwel Healthcare Centre, our healthcare providers will work with you to create a treatment plan that helps you control your symptoms and live a productive life. Book your appointment here.