Gastro esophageal reflux disease is a disorder that results from stomach acid moving backward from the stomach into the esophagus. GERD usually happens because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) — the muscular valve where the esophagus joins the stomach — opens at the wrong time or does not close properly.
Causes for Reflux Disease -GERD
No one knows the exact cause of gastro esophageal reflux. The following are several contributing factors that weaken or relax the lower esophageal sphincter, making reflux worse:
- Lifestyle – Use of alcohol or cigarettes, obesity, poor posture (slouching)
- Medications – Calcium channel blockers, theophylline , nitrates, antihistamines and pain killers
- Diet – Fatty and fried foods, chocolate, garlic and onions, drinks with caffeine, acid foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, spicy foods, mint flavorings
- Eating habits – Eating large meals, eating just before bedtime
- Other medical conditions – Hiatus hernia, pregnancy, diabetes, rapid weight gain
Hiatus hernia is a condition when the upper part of the stomach protrudes up above the diaphragm (the strong muscle that separates the organs of the chest from those of the abdomen).
- Normally, the diaphragm acts as an additional barrier, helping the lower esophageal sphincter keep acid from backing up into the esophagus.
- A hiatus hernia makes it easier for the acid to back up.
- Hiatus hernia can be caused by persistent coughing, vomiting, straining, or sudden physical exertion. Obesity and pregnancy can make the condition worse.
- Hiatus hernia is very common in people older than 50 years.
- Hiatus hernia usually requires no treatment. In rare cases when the hernia becomes twisted or is making GERD worse, surgery may be required.
Often, people who have GERD notice that they regularly have the pain of heartburn in the chest or stomach — and their heartburn can last up to a couple of hours. Lots of people who have GERD notice their heartburn is worse after eating.
Regurgitation is also a sign that a person may have GERD, although, like heartburn, occasional regurgitation is common for everyone. (Regurgitation is when food and liquid containing stomach acid comes back up into the throat or mouth.)
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- A sore, raw throat or hoarse voice
- A frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down
- A feeling of burping acid into the mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- A feeling that food is stuck in the throat
- a feeling of choking that may wake someone up
- A dry cough
- Bad breath
Many people can relieve their symptoms by changing their habits and lifestyle. The following steps, if followed, may reduce your reflux significantly.
- Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime. This allows your stomach to empty and acid production to decrease. If you don’t eat, your body isn’t making acid to digest the food.
- Similarly, don’t lie down right after eating at any time of day.
- Elevate the head of your bed 6 inches with blocks. Gravity helps prevent reflux.
- Don’t eat large meals. Eating a lot of food at one time increases the amount of acid needed to digest it. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
- Avoid fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine, mints or mint-flavoured foods, spicy foods, citrus, and tomato-based foods. These foods decrease the competence of the LES.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases the likelihood that acid from your stomach will back up.
- Stop smoking. Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter and increases reflux.
- Lose excess weight. Overweight and obese people are much more likely to have bothersome reflux than people of healthy weight.
- Stand upright or sit up straight, maintain good posture. This helps food and acid pass through the stomach instead of backing up into the esophagus.
- Talk to your health care provider about taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or medicines for osteoporosis. These can aggravate reflux in some people.
Some of these changes may be difficult for people to make. Talk to your health care provider if you need some tips on losing weight or quitting smoking. Knowing that your heartburn will get better may keep you motivated.
Please note over the counter anti acidity tablets have side effects of producing constipation and loss of appetite and abdominal bloating problems. Dont take self medication for GERD
Homeo medicines help to control acid secretions and act best in GERD. Better to take homeopathy medicines for gastro esophageal reflexive disease along with diet regulations and life style modifications.
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