Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) results in heartburn, as the stomach acids regurgitate into the esophagus. Learn about its symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs due to the gastric acid refluxing back up the esophagus (food pipe).
GERD is diagnosed with the patient's symptoms and the positive response to treatment. An endoscopic evaluation is not necessary unless in the following situations:
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The following are the various causes that could result in gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Intake of a heavy meal followed by lying on your back or bending below.
- Eating before bedtime or lying down immediately after a meal.
- Intake of certain drugs such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen, some muscle relaxants, and certain antihypertensive medications.
Yes, early diagnosis and treatment can permanently cure gastroesophageal reflux disease. A permanent cure is possible for young adults. If it is left untreated, the condition can cause permanent damage to the esophagus. One of the most common complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease is something called Barrett's esophagus. This condition can even progress to cancer of the esophagus.
The following are foods that you should avoid if you are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Foods that are rich in fat content. This is because fried foods can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to dilate more than the required amount.
- This leads to the accumulation of excess stomach acid (HCL). This accumulated acid will enter into the esophagus.
- Citrus fruit like oranges.
- Spicy foods.
- Caffeine and carbonated beverages.
The factors determining the treatment outcome in a gastroesophageal reflux disease are
the patient's age, severity, and comorbidities. The condition is easily curable when the patient is an adult, and proper medical attention is given. However, it can become a problem if it is not treated. This is because hydrochloric acid reflux damages the tissue lining the esophagus, leading to severe inflammation and pain. In adults, chronic, untreated gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause permanent damage to the esophagus, and sometimes even tumors can arise.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) cannot be treated naturally. However, specific lifestyle changes can help in reducing the severity and symptoms of the condition. They are as follows.
- Avoiding the triggers of reflux.
- Avoiding spicy food.
- Sleeping in an elevated bed.
- Taking proper treatment and regular follow up.
- Eating fiber-rich food.
The following are the best medications available to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Histamine blockers.
- Proton pump inhibitors like Omeprazole.
- Prokinetic agents.
However, it is essential to note that these drugs are unsafe without proper medical advice and can lead to potential side effects.
To reduce gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms, potential acid suppression therapy must be given to the patient at least for two or eight weeks. It would help if you continued until healing improves. You should discuss with the doctor regarding the duration of GERD treatment.
The first line of treatment for adults who are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease is 20 milligrams (mg) of Omeprazole once a day before the intake of food. It has to be taken at least eight weeks. For children, the dose and duration of treatment are primarily based on body weight.
The following are the frequently seen symptoms in patients who are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
A burning sensation in the upper part of the abdomen and chest, especially after eating. It might be especially worse at night.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Reflux of food.
- The frequent feeling of sour liquid in the mouth.
- Lump in the throat.
Identifying gastroesophageal reflux disease in babies can be quite complex. However, a doctor will diagnose your baby with gastroesophageal reflux disease if he or she has the following symptoms.
- Spitting up milk or foods and vomiting.
- Reluctant to eat and taking excessive time to eat and swallow.
- Irritability during feeding.
- Wet burps.
- Frequent episodes of cough or recurrent pneumonia.
Unfortunately, there is no diet until today to prevent or treat gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, avoiding certain spicy foods and meat may reduce the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease in some people. Also, increased fiber intake, like fruits and vegetables, may prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease.
No, you can not definitively diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease at home. You can only note its symptoms. To diagnose it, proper medical consultation is required. It will involve the following.
Thorough and focused medical history taking and physical examination.
- Upper endoscopy.
- Ambulatory acid (pH) probe test.
- Esophageal manometry.
- X-ray of your upper gastrointestinal tract.
The following are specific lifestyle changes and remedies that can help to cope up with the pain caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking and alcohol.
- Elevate the head of your bed, which can prevent acid easily refluxing through your esophagus.
- Do not lie down after the intake of food.
- Eat your food slowly and chew it thoroughly well.
- Avoid foods and drinks such as chocolate and coffee that trigger reflux.
- Avoid heavy meals.
If the patient is suffering from an acute episode of chest pain, he or she might experience the following symptoms and the common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Tightness in the center of the chest.
- A feeling of heaviness in one or both arms.
- Pain that radiates to the arms, neck, jaw, lips.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Loss of appetite.
- Profuse sweating.
The most common conditions seen in patients that can increase their chances of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease include the following.
- Hiatal hernia.
Yes, gastroesophageal reflux disease can affect your teeth. Sometimes, the first clinical indication that a person may have gastroesophageal reflux disease is the enamel's erosion. This symptom is seen prominently on the molar teeth.
Yes, it is a fact that milk can temporarily control the activity of stomach acid. However, the nutrients in milk, especially the fats present in it, stimulates the stomach to secrete more acid. These patients might consume fat-free milk to a limited extent.
Probiotic supplements that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus are frequently used for symptoms such as stomach burn and other gastric problems such as diarrhea and constipation. The bacteria in probiotics are "gut-friendly" and help maintain a balance in the digestive system between good and harmful bacteria.
Yes, chronic untreated gastroesophageal reflux disease can be a cause of esophageal cancer. This risk is significantly higher in people who have more frequent episodes. However, GERD is very common, and not all people who have it develop esophageal cancer. The most common complication of GERD that leads to cancer development in the esophagus is Barrett's esophagus.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease causes difficulty breathing because stomach acid that refluxes into the lower esophagus can sometimes enter the lungs. This occurs mainly when a person is sleeping. This can cause inflammation of the airways. This can be a potential cause of aspiration pneumonia.
Yes, constipation can cause symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. On the other hand, the drugs used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease can also cause constipation. In these cases, prokinetic agents such as lactulose are given to relieve constipation.
Yes, chocolate causes gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms. Cocoa makes the intestinal cells relax the lower esophageal sphincter. This leads to the release of a surge of serotonin. When this muscle relaxes, gastric contents can reflux through the sphincter. This causes a burning sensation in the upper abdomen. Chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine, which can aggravate the symptoms.
The following are the list of foods that a person affected with gastroesophageal reflux disease can eat.
- Fresh green vegetables.
- Non-citrus fruits like mangoes and bananas.
- Egg white.
Last reviewed at:
05 Sep 2022 - 3 min read
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