Gastroesophagial Reflux Disease (GERD) and Acid Reflux – Symptoms

What is acid Reflux and GERD

Acid reflux or GERD (gastro-esophagial reflux disease) This happens when the contents of the stomach come up in the esophagus. This is also termed acid regurgitation.

If you experience acid reflux symptoms more than twice within a week, you may experience a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), The GERD affects around 20% of the American population. It can sometimes cause severe complications without treatment.

GERD symptoms

Acid reflux can cause discomfort in the chest, which can radiate towards the neck. This feeling is commonly known as heartburn.

If you get acid reflux, you may feel a sour or bitter taste in the bottom of your mouth. It could also make you regurgitate food or stomach fluid in the mouth.

In some cases, GERD may lead to difficulty swallowing. It may sometimes cause respiratory problems, like a chronic cough or asthma.

GERD causes

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a circular muscular band at the end of your esophagus. If it does not function properly, it relaxes and opens during swallowing. It becomes tighter and then closes.

Acid reflux occurs when your LES does not shut down properly. This enables digestive juices and other contents of your stomach to reach your oesophagus.

GERD treatment options

To prevent and treat GERD symptoms, your doctor may suggest that you change your eating habits or other behaviours.

They may also recommend taking over-the-counter medicines, such as:

  • antacids
  • H2 receptor blockers
  • proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)

In certain cases, they can prescribe stronger H2 receptor inhibitors or PPIs. If GERD is serious and is not treated with other medications, surgical intervention may be recommended.

Side effects can occur with some non-prescription and prescription drugs.

Surgery for GERD

In most cases, lifestyle changes and drugs are enough to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of GERD. But in some cases, surgery is necessary.

For example, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure if lifestyle changes and medications alone have not reduced your symptoms. They may also recommend a surgical procedure if you have developed GERD complications.

Multiple types of surgery are available for GERD treatment.

Diagnosing GERD

If your doctor suspects you may have GERD, he or she will conduct a physical examination and ask you what your symptoms are.

They can use one or several of the following procedures to confirm a diagnosis or to verify that there are no GERD complications:

  • barium swallow: X-ray imaging is performed after consuming barium solution to examine your upper gastrointestinal tract.
  • upper endoscopy: A flexible tube with a small camera is placed in your oesophagus to examine it and take tissue samples (biopsy) if necessary.
  • esophageal manometry: A flexible tube is placed inside your esophagus to measure the force of your esophageal muscles.
  • esophageal pH monitoring: a monitor is inserted into your esophagus to determine whether and when gastric acid enters the esophagus.

GERD in infants

About two-thirds of 4-month-old Children present with symptoms of GERD. Up to 10 per cent of one-year-old babies are infected with the disease.

Babies usually throw up sometimes. However, if your baby spits up food or vomits more often, he or she may suffer from GERD.

Additional signs and symptoms of GERD in infants include the following:

  • refusal to eat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • gagging or choking
  • wet burps or hiccups
  • irritability while eating or after eating.
  • Bending of the back during or after feeding.
  • weight loss or lack of growth.
  • Regular cough or pneumonia.
  • difficulty sleeping

Many of these symptoms also occur in babies who have a tongue tie, a condition that may make them difficult to eat.

If you suspect your baby may have an GERD or other health problem, make a suggestion to his or her physician.

Risk factors for GERD

Some conditions may increase your chances of GERD development, which includes.

  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • hiatal hernia
  • connective tissue disorders

Certain lifestyle behaviours may also increase the risk of GERD, such as:

  • smoking
  • eating too much food.
  • lie down or get a little sleep after eating.
  • eat certain types of foods, such as fried and spicy foods.
  • drinking certain types of drinks, such as soda, coffee and alcohol.
  • using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like aspirine or ibuprofen.

If you have one of these risk factors, taking action to modify them can help you prevent or control GERD.

Potential complications of GERD

Most people do not experience severe complications from GERD. However, in some cases, this can lead to serious and potentially fatal health problems.

Possible GERD complications can include:

  • esophagitis, your esophagus becomes inflamed.
  • esophageal structure, that occurs as your esophagus narrows or tightens.
  • Barrett’s esophagus, continuous changes in the lining of the esophagus.
  • esophageal cancer, that affects a small portion of the people in Barrett’s esophagus.
  • asthma, Chronic cough, or other respiratory complications, which can happen when you breathe, gastric acid moves into your lungs.
  • erosion of tooth enamel, gum disease or other tooth problems.

To reduce the risk of complications, it is important to follow certain steps for the prevention and treatment of GERD symptoms.

Diet and GERD

Some people experience GERD symptoms due to certain types of food and drink. Common food triggers include foods rich in fat.

  • pineapple
  • citrus fruit
  • chocolate
  • spicy foods
  • tomato
  • onion
  • garlic
  • alcohol
  • cofgee
  • tea
  • soda

Dietary triggers can vary by person.

Home remedies for GERD

There are a number of lifestyle changes and home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of GERD.

For example, the following can be useful:

  • quit smoking
  • losing too much weight.
  • eat less food.
  • chew gum after a meal.
  • Do not lie down or fall asleep after eating.
  • Avoid foods or beverages that trigger your symptoms.
  • Avoid clothing that is tight.
  • practice relaxing techniques.

Some herbal cures may also provide some relief.

Typical herbs used in GERD include:

  • slippery elm
  • chamomile
  • licorice root
  • marshmallow root

While more research is needed, some people report feeling relieved of acid reflux after taking supplements, tinctures, or teas that contain these herbs.

However, in some cases, herbal remedies may have side effects or interfere with certain drugs.

Anxiety and GERD

According to 2015 researchTrusted Source, Anxiety could worsen certain GERD symptoms.

If you suspect that anxiety worsens your symptoms, talk to your doctor about ways to relieve them.

Here are a few steps you can take to decrease anxiety:

  • Monitor your exposure to experiences, individuals and places that make you anxious.
  • Puractice relaxation techniques, including meditation and deep breathing exercises.
  • Improve sleep patterns, exercise routines, or other lifestyle-related behaviours.

If your doctor suspects that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, he or she may refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Pregnancy and GERD

Pregnancy may improve your chances of acid reflux. If you had GERD before you became pregnant, your symptoms could worsen.

Hormone changes during pregnancy may result in more frequent relaxation of the esophageal muscles. A growing fetus may also put pressure on your belly. This may increase the chance that gastric acid will get into your esophagus.

Many drugs that are used in the treatment of acid reflux are safe to follow during pregnancy. However, in some cases, your doctor may recommend that you avoid certain antacids or other therapies.

Asthma and GERD

It has been reported only more than 75 percent asthma suffers from GERD as well.

More research is required to understand the real relationship of asthma to GERD. It is possible for GERD to worsen asthma symptoms. But asthma and certain medications may increase the risk of developing GERD.

If you suffer from both asthma and GERD, it is important to deal with both conditions.

IBS and GERD

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) This condition can affect the large intestine. Commonly, the symptoms are:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea

As per a recent review, Symptoms associated with GERD are more common in individuals with IBS than in the general population.

If you experience symptoms of IBS or GERD, consult your doctor. They may recommend changes to your diet, medicines or other therapies.

Drinking alcohol and GERD

Some people with GERD may experience symptoms that are aggravated by certain foods and beverages. These dietary triggers may include alcohol.

According to your specific triggers, you may be able to drink alcohol within limitation. But for some people, even low levels of alcohol cause symptoms of GERD.

When you combine alcohol with fruit juices or other beverages, these mixers can also trigger symptoms.

Difference between GERD and heartburn

Heartburn is a commonly occurring symptom of acid reflux. Most people experience it occasionally, and usually occasional heartburn is not a cause of concern.

But if you get heartburn more than two times a week, you could get GERD.

GERD is a chronic type of acidic reflux which can cause severe problems if left untreated.

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