Learn About GERD, Its Symptoms And Treatments
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a disease in which the stomach pushes the stomach acid back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal means stomach and esophagus together. Gastroesophageal Reflux means flow of food/fluid from stomach to esophagus. Normally, Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) allows the food/fluid to enter into the stomach but blocks the flow back to esophagus. GERD happens when the LES is not working appropriately.
There are several reasons for a person to suffer from GERD. GERD happens when the LES is weak or functions improperly. Mostly this happens when a person cares less for his diet and food style. Some food ingredients like oil, fat, caffeine, liquor, etc. favors in the process of the above mentioned Reflux to happen and thereby weakening the LES. Then it finally results in GERD. Some medical doctors say that GERD can be affected in certain patients because of a condition named Hiatal Hernia. Hiatal Hernia affects the mechanical and motility of the esophagus and ultimately it weakens the LES. Apart from these reasons Obesity, Hypercalcemia, Visceroptosis, Pregnancy, etc. can also cause GERD to occur.
There are quite a few symptoms that can be observed to identify GERD. Amongst them Heartburn is the most common one. Heartburn is a chest pain that feels like a burn and hence the name. It begins from the back of the sternum and move upwards to the throat. The pain can continue for 2 hours and may increase while eating. Another common symptom of GERD is the difficulty to swallow foods which is known as Dysphagia. Regurgitation, Odynophagia, Nausea, etc. are some other symptoms of GERD.
GERD is mainly of inappropriate diet and food style, and so the first thing a doctor recommends to his patient is to change the diet. As GERD is a result of weak LES, the goal of dieting or treatment is to reduce the flow of food/fluid from the stomach. Sometimes changes in lifestyle can also help for certain patients. These include losing weight, heightening the head-part of the bed, etc.
At present, a number of medicines are available for the treatment of GERD. The most common among them are Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPI) and H2 receptor blocker. The most powerful medication is to use H2blockers right after consuming the PPIs. This medication is prescribed to be taken before a meal and may vary from once in a day or twice in a day depending on the severity of GERD. Another such medicine is Antacids which help in diluting the acid from the stomach and thereby reducing the pain. Antacids can sometimes be mixed with a foaming agent which will create a foam shield. This will cease the reflux from reaching the esophagus. However, it should also be noted that long-term use of such medicines can also end in side effects.
GERD is a common disease that is found mostly in adults and can be identified easily by observing the symptoms. It can be eliminated properly by following the mentioned dieting and lifestyle and by consulting a good doctor nearby.