Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a painful burning sensation in esophagus or stomach. It is a digestive disorder caused by persistent flow of acid from stomach in to the esophagus. Esophagus is regarded as food tube, which transports food from the mouth to the stomach. GERD usually occur due to dysfunction in sphincter at the bottom of esophagus. The sphincter prevents the food from returning back to the food pipe. It can affect all age groups and can lead to most serious complications.

Causes

  • Acid reflux
  • Obesity or increased weight
  • Medications such as sedatives, anti-depressants, anti-histamines etc
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Inflammation in esophagus

Symptoms

  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Bad breaths
  • Respiratory problems
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hiccups
  • Food regurgitation
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Hoarseness

Diets that trigger GERD

  • Spicy foods
  • Alcoholic and carbonated beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee or Caffeine containing beverages
  • Tomato products
  • High fat containing foods
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Meat
  • Mint

Diets to use during GERD

Some foods do appear to reduce the frequency of GERD symptoms

  • Green vegetables and fresh fruits
  • Ginger is a natural treatment for heartburn
  • Vitamin C rich foods
  • Eggs but make sure to skip yolks
  • Foods high in fiber content
  • Protein foods from low cholesterol sources e.g almonds, salmon, trout etc
  • Foods containing natural prebiotics and probiotics

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Treatment of GERD

The treatment is based on

  1. Lifestyle modification
  2. Control of gastric acid secretion with medicines
  3. Surgical treatment

Lifestyle and behavior changes

Along with medications, change in diet and lifestyle can help to manage GERD.

  • Don’t eat immediately before sleeping
  • Avoid over eating
  • Avoid smoking
  • Do exercise and lose weight
  • Sleep with the head elevated
  • Remaining upright for at least two hours after eating
  • Chewing gum

Medications

  • Antacids

Antacids are medicines that neutralize the acid in stomach to relieve indigestion and heartburn e.g. Gaviscon

  • H2-receptor blockers

These counteract the acid in the stomach by creating the alkaline environment e.g. Zantac

  • Proton-pump inhibitors

PPIs are one of the main drugs used to treat drug because they decrease the acid production from the stomach e.g. Nexium

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Surgical option

If these medications don’t work, surgery can be an option to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. Surgical treatments include: Fundoplication and Endoscopic procedures.

 



Author: Sana Khalid 

 

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