GERD is more commonly known as acid reflux. GERD is a very serious form of GER. Normally, in order to be diagnosed with GERD, you must suffer from acid reflux more than a couple of times per week and it doesn’t matter how young or how old you are – you can be a sufferer. Acid reflux first occurs because the stomach acid isn’t kept in the muscle below the esophagus. This muscle is known as the LES, or lower esophageal sphincter, and sometimes doesn’t close properly or opens up spontaneously allowing the stomach acid to enter into the esophagus resulting in acid reflux.
One of the most common symptoms related to GERD is definitely heartburn. It is the most experienced symptom by those that suffer from GERD. Heartburn is normally felt right in the middle of the chest and it is a strong, painful burning sensation. More often than that, heartburn is worse and much stronger after eating. Heartburn can also be made worse when one is bending over or even lying down. Normally if heartburn strengthens after lying down or bending over, standing up will provide relief to some extent. In addition, heartburn commonly occurs at nighttime after heading to bed.
Sour Taste/Material from Regurgitation
Apart from the burning sensation that you feel in your chest known as heartburn, there are a number of other symptoms that you will feel when suffering from GERD. For one, you’ll likely have a sour taste in your mouth, which is made worse when you burp. In addition to just the “taste,” you may also experience the material in your mouth that you have burped up or regurgitated. It sounds disgusting and trust me, it is! Many compare it to the taste you have in your mouth when you need to or have just vomited.
Sore Throat, Swallowing Difficulty and Pain
You are also likely to experience a sore throat, cough as well as hoarseness in your voice. All three of these are more likely to appear in the morning, but they don’t have to. The reason for the morning appearance is from irritation caused overnight from the acid sitting in the throat. Having difficulty swallowing or even experiencing pain while swallowing is very common when suffering from GERD. Those individuals that suffer from GERD and asthma may also experience a great deal of wheezing or a very dry cough. Dry chronic coughs occur in non-smokers 41% of the time
What Can Cause GERD?
There are a number of factors that lead up to the cause of GERD. It doesn’t just include the types of foods you eat, but that is included. Foods such as chocolate, citrus fruits, spicy foods, fried and fatty foods, caffeine as well as tomato based sauces and foods can all create worsened symptoms of GERD. A few other factors that often contribute to GERD include smoking, pregnancy as well as obesity. If you have been diagnosed to have a hiatal hernia, this could be the cause of your GERD as it normally appears in the upper part of the stomach, near the LES, causing the acid to rise up into the esophagus.
What Can You Do?
Many people wonder what they can do to either help relieve their symptoms or prevent the symptoms from happening. And, there are in fact a few things that you can do. Let’s take a look at a few things that you can do to help prevent the development of GERD or to relieve the symptoms that you are facing from GERD.
In some cases, you can seek endoscopic GERD treatments like the ones provided at IES Medical Group. Meanwhile, we’ve listed a few other recommendations below.
It definitely boils down to changes in your current lifestyle. For example, if you are a current smoker, the best thing for you to do is stop and stop right now! Other changes may include the following:
- You will also want to avoid those foods and drinks that worsen the GERD symptoms such as the ones listed above.
- If you are overweight then it might be a wise choice to try to lose a little weight since obesity is a cause of GERD.
- Try consuming several meals a day – small meals that come less frequently than the standard 3-meal per day routine.
- Try to wear looser fitting clothes rather than clothes that fit snug around the stomach and abdomen.
- Eat early enough so that you aren’t lying down until two to three hours after you have consumed your last meal to help avoid nocturnal acid reflux.
- Try to put blocks under the head of your bed to raise your bed so that the head of it is up a few inches higher than normal. Extra pillows won’t help in this sense so you actually need to raise the head of your bed.
- Speak to your doctor about treatments such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)