By Dr Roy Patankar, leading Gastroenterologist & Director of Zen Hospital
Do you often experience chest pain? Finding it difficult to swallow your food? Then, beware! It could be Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Here, we list out the symptoms and few strategies to deal with it.
One may suffer from Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This backwash (acid reflux) tends to irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion owing to GERD. The acid in the esophagus causes heartburn and other symptoms, as well as possible tissue damage. One may suffer from it, if one is obese because of increased pressure on the abdomen and certain medications can also invite this condition. Moreover, smoking, and being exposed to second-hand smoke, can also put you at the risk of it. According to a study published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, GERD symptoms are more frequent in patients with NERD than in those with reflux esophagitis. However, men suffer pathologic diseases such as reflux esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus (BE), and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) more frequently than women. The prevalence of reflux esophagitis is significantly increased with age in women, especially after their 50s.
All you need to know about the symptoms of it
Heartburn is the main symptom of it. Heartburn is discomfort felt behind the breastbone due to the burning sensation. It tends to get worse if the person lies down or bends over and also after eating food. While, other symptoms which people may experience can be nausea or vomiting, wearing a way of teeth, gum inflammation, bad breath, respiratory problems, cavities, sudden excess of saliva, acid regurgitation (retasting your food after eating) and difficulty or pain when swallowing. Also, one should not ignore other symptoms like hoarseness or sore throat. When stomach acid moves up the esophagus, it may irritate one’s vocal cords. This is often worse in the morning, after lying down all night and may subside during the day. This constant irritation can also make the throat feel a bit sore. Take note the symptoms and get timely treatment. The danger symptoms are weight loss black coloured stools. If so need to get endoscopy done to rule out cancer
GERD can be treated with medications before attempting other lines of treatmentproton pump, blockers like esomeprazole or pantoprazole should not be taken beyond one year as may have some consequences in the long term.
This is what you must do to prevent it:
- You must eat in moderation, and avoid going overboard: Large meals fill the stomach and put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), making reflux and GERD more likely.
- Make sure that you do not eat food 2 to 3 hours before hitting the sack.
- Cut down on smoking and alcohol:The nicotine in cigarettes can weaken a part of your body which is lower esophageal sphincter. That muscle controls the opening between your esophagus and your stomach. Alcohol can also cause the esophageal muscles to spasm.
- See to it that you get rid of that excess fat:Obesity is the leading cause of GERD. Extra stomach fat places pressure on your abdomen, pushing gastric juices up into your esophagus.
- Avoid wear clothing that is tight around the abdomen and sleep at a slight angle with the head slightly elevated.
- Cut down on certain foods like greasy and spicy foods, chocolate, peppermint, coffee and alcohol which can trigger GERD by causing heartburn.
- Maintain a diary:Jot down when your heartburn hits and the specific things you’re doing when you experience it.