What is acid Reflux and GERD
Acid reflux or GERD(gastro-esophagial reflux disease) happens when contents stomach contents move up into your esophagus. It’s also called acid regurgitation.
If you have symptoms of acid reflux more than two times in a week, you might have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), GERD affects about 20 percent of people in the United States. It can sometimes cause serious complications if left untreated.
Acid reflux can cause an uncomfortable burning sensations in your chest, which can radiate up toward your neck. This feeling is often called as heartburn.
If you have acid reflux, you might feel a sour or bitter taste at the back of your mouth. It might also cause you to regurgitate food or liquid from your stomach into your mouth.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a circular band of muscle at the end of your esophagus. When it is not working properly, it relaxes and opens during swallowing. Then it tightens and closes again afterwards.
Acid reflux happens when your LES doesn’t close properly. This allows digestive juices and other contents from your stomach to reach into your esophagus.
GERD treatment options
To prevent and relieve symptoms of GERD, your doctor might suggest you to make changes to your eating habits or other behaviors.
They might also suggest taking counter medications, such as:
In some cases, they might prescribe stronger H2 receptor blockers or PPIs. If GERD is severe and not treated by to other medications, surgery might be recommended.
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause side effects. Find out more about the medications that are available to treat GERD.
Surgery for GERD
In most cases, lifestyle changes and medications are sufficient to prevent and relieve symptoms of GERD. But sometimes, surgery is required.
For example, your doctor might suggest surgery if lifestyle changes and medications alone haven’t relieved your symptoms. They might also suggest surgery if you’ve developed complications of GERD.
There are several types of surgery available to treat GERD. Click here to read about the procedures that your doctor might recommend.
If your doctor suspects you might have GERD, they’ll perform a physical exam and ask about any symptoms you’ve been facing.
They might use one or more of the following procedures to confirm a diagnosis or check for complications of GERD:
- barium swallow: X-ray imaging is done after drinking a barium solution to examine your upper digestive tract.
- upper endoscopy: a flexible tube with a small camera is placed into your esophagus to examine it and collect a tissue samples (biopsy) if needed.
- esophageal manometry: a flexible tube is situated into your esophagus to measure the strength of your esophageal muscles
- esophageal pH monitoring: a monitor is inserted into your esophagus to know if and when stomach acid enters it
GERD in infants
About two-thirds of 4-month-old infants have symptoms of GERD. Up to 10 percent of 1-year-old babies are affected by it.
It’s normal for babies to spit up food and vomit sometimes. But if your baby is spitting up food or vomiting more frequently, they might suffering GERD.
Other potential signs and symptoms of GERD in infants are:
- refusal to eat
- Difficulty swallowing
- gagging or choking
- wet burps or hiccups
- irritability during or after eating
- arching of their back during or after feeding
- weight loss or poor growth
- Frequent cough or pneumonia
- difficulty sleeping
Many of these symptoms are also found in babies with tongue-tie, a condition that can make it difficult them to eat.
If you suspect your baby might have GERD or another health condition, take a suggestion with their doctor. Learn how to recognize GERD in infants.
Risk factors for GERD
Certain conditions can increase your chances of developing GERD,that includes
Some lifestyle habits can also increase your risk of GERD, including:
- eating bulky meals
- lying down or going to sleep shortly after eating
- eating certain types of foods, like deep fried or spicy foods
- drinking certain types of beverages, such as soda, coffee, or alcohol
- using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin or ibuprofen
If you have any of these risk factors, taking steps to change them may help you prevent or control GERD. Find out more about what can raise your chances of experiencing it.
Potential complications of GERD
In most people, GERD doesn’t cause serious complications. But in some cases, it can lead to serious or even life-threatening health issues.
Potential complications of GERD include:
- esophagitis, an inflammation of your esophagus
- esophageal structure, which happens when your esophagus narrows or tightens
- Barrett’s esophagus, permanent changes to the lining of your esophagus
- esophageal cancer, which affects a small portion of people with Barrett’s esophagus
- asthma, chronic cough, or other breathing complications, which may develop when you breath, stomach acid moves into your lungs
- teeth enamel erosion, gum disease, or other dental issues.
To lower your chances of complications, it’s important to follow some steps to prevent and treat the symptoms of GERD.
Diet and GERD
In some people, certain types of foods and beverages trigger symptoms of GERD. Common dietary triggers include:fat riched foods
Dietary triggers can differ from one person to another. Find out more about common food triggers and how to avoid making your symptoms worse.
Home remedies for GERD
There are several lifestyle changes and home remedies that may help relieve GERD symptoms.
For example, it might help to:
- quit smoking
- lose excess weight
- eat smaller meals
- chew gum after eating
- avoid lying down or sleeping after eating
- avoid foods and drinks that trigger your symptoms
- avoid wearing tight clothes
- practice relaxation techniques
Some herbal remedies might also give some relief.
Herbs commonly used for GERD include:
- licorice root
- marshmallow root
- slippery elm
Although more research is required, some people report experiencing relief from acid reflux after taking supplements, tinctures, or teas that contain these herbs.
But in some cases, herbal remedies can have some side effects or interfere with certain medications. Check out the potential benefits and risks of using herbal remedies to treat GERD.
Anxiety and GERD
According to 2015 researchTrusted Source, anxiety might worsen some of the symptoms of GERD.
If you suspect that anxiety is making your symptoms worse, take help of your doctor about strategies to relieve it.
Some things you can do to reduce anxiety include:
- Control your exposure to experiences, people, and places that make you feel anxious
- Puractice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises
- Improve your sleep habits, exercise routine, or other lifestyle behaviors
If your doctor suspects you have an anxiety disorder, they might refer you to a mental health specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
Pregnancy and GERD
Pregnancy can increase your chances of havingacid reflux. If you had GERD before your pregnancy your symptoms might get worse.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause your esophageal muscles to relax more frequently. A growing fetus can also makes pressure on your stomach. This can increase the risk of stomach acid to enter your esophagus.
Many medications that are used to treat acid reflux are safe to follow during pregnancy. But in some cases, your doctor might suggest you to avoid certain antacids or other treatments. Learn more about the strategies you can use to manage acid reflux in pregnancy.
Asthma and GERD
It’s been reported that more than 75 percent of people with asthma also suffer with GERD.
More research is needed to understand the actual relationship between asthma and GERD. It’s possible that GERD might make symptoms of asthma worse. But asthma and some of it’s medications might raise your risk of experiencing GERD.
If you have both asthma and GERD, it’s important to manage both conditions. Read more about the links between these conditions and how you can effectively manage them.
IBS and GERD
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that can affect your large intestine. Common symptoms are:
- abdominal pain
According to a recent reviewTrusted Source, GERD-related symptoms are more common in people suffering from IBS than the general population.
If you have symptoms of both IBS and GERD, take advice of your doctor. They might recommend changes to your diet, medications, or other treatments. Learn more about the link between these conditions and how you can find relief.
Drinking alcohol and GERD
In some people with GERD, certain foods and drinks can make the symptoms worse. Those dietary triggers might include alcoholic drinks.
Depending on your specific triggers, you might be able to drink alcohol in limitation. But for some people, even small amounts of alcohol trigger symptoms of GERD.
If you combine alcohol with fruit juices or other drinks, those mixers might also trigger symptoms. Discover how alcohol and mixers can trigger GERD symptoms.
Difference between GERD and heartburn
Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux. Most people experience it from time to time, and generally, occasional heartburn is not a cause for concern.
But if you have heartburn more than twice a week, you might have GERD.
GERD is a chronic type of acid reflux that can cause serious problems if left untreated. Find out the differences and links between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD.