What are GERD and acid reflux, and why do they occur?
GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that occurs when the acidic contents of the stomach travel back (reflux) into the esophagus. GERD can cause persistent heartburn, chest pain, and tissue damage. Additionally, GERD can sometimes lead to other issues like asthma, laryngitis, difficulty or painful swallowing, coughing, and more. Fortunately, GERD is considered to be quite treatable with lifestyle changes, medications, and in rare cases, surgery. Acid reflux is another term used to describe GERD. It refers to the frequent backward flow of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus, causing painful symptoms like burning and irritation of the throat and chest which can even reach as high as the mouth. This unpleasant phenomenon occurs because a muscular valve between the esophagus and stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to close tightly enough, allowing acid or partially digested food (and bile) to move terribly wrong direction up through it.
The symptoms of GERD and acid reflux
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and acid reflux can cause a variety of discomforting symptoms. GERD may be accompanied by frequent heartburn, chest pain, dry cough, laryngitis, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, nausea, and regurgitation. Additionally, GERD can lead to more serious respiratory problems such as maxillary sinusitis, asthma, and even pneumonitis. Acid reflux symptoms are similar to GERD but tend to be less severe; these include burping up acidic liquid or food contents from the stomach into the esophagus at least twice a week for a period of three weeks or more. It is important to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of GERD and acid reflux so that you can identify them in yourself and seek appropriate medical care if necessary.
How to achieve relief from GERD and acid reflux through lifestyle changes
GERD and acid reflux can be quite painful, but the good news is that relief may be within reach. Making positive lifestyle changes is a great way to get on the right track. Some of the most effective methods include limiting or avoiding foods that can trigger GERD symptoms, such as fried and fatty foods, chocolate, tomatoes and garlic, caffeine-containing drinks, alcohol, carbonated drinks, items with peppermint or spearmint in them, and red grapefruit juice. Eating many small meals spaced throughout the day can also provide relief instead of two or three larger meals. Additionally, eating slowly and making sure to chew food thoroughly can prevent GERD flare-ups. Physical activity and reducing stress levels may also provide added relief by helping to regulate the digestive system. With a few careful adjustments to your lifestyle, you may be able to minimize GERD and acid reflux flare-ups for good.
Medications for treating GERD and acid reflux
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and acid reflux are both common conditions that affect a large proportion of the population. GERD often causes unpleasant and painful symptoms, such as burning sensations in the chest, regurgitation, and chest pains. Fortunately, there is a range of medications available for those who suffer from GERD or acid reflux to help reduce the associated symptoms and give lasting relief. Depending on the severity of GERD or acid reflux, your doctor might prescribe an antacid or H2 receptor antagonist to relieve gastric acid production or to keep it from backing up into the esophagus. Proton pump inhibitors can also be prescribed if other treatments are unsuccessful. Furthermore, if lifestyle changes alone are not helping with GERD and acid reflux, it is important to speak to your doctor about medication options so you can start living a symptom-free life once more.