Heartburn is the common name for GERD, which stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Most people experience a bout of heartburn every once in a while. They pop a few Tums or Gaviscon and it's all taken care of. Searching for Gerd diets is something regular heartburn sufferers might be interested in. This article will outline the basics of acid reflux disease and talk about good food choices if you are trying to follow a reflux diet.
What is GERD?
Your esophagus is the tube that joins your throat to your stomach. During normal eating, you swallow your food and at just the right time a valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus opens and allows the food to enter the stomach. There it is subjected to strong stomach acids that digest the food. Acid Reflux occurs when this valve is either weakened or simply opens at the wrong times and lets this harmful stomach acid splash into the esophagus. This will cause a burning sensation in your lower esophagus, commonly referred to as heartburn. If some of these stomach juices happen to trickle into your breathing tube you can experience hoarseness, a cough, or even shortness of breath.
Mild GERD can cause some inflammation in the esophagus. A more severe case of acid reflux can lead to some serious issues, including ulcers in the esophagus, esophageal bleeding, respiratory problems, faster tooth decay, and in extreme cases, cancer of the esophagus.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is common in women who are pregnant. In fact, one study showed that up to 80% of women have experienced some gerd symptoms during pregnancy.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Normal swallowing allows your food to travel down your esophagus to your stomach. A valve or muscle at the base of your esophagus opens and lets the food enter the stomach. With GERD, this valve does not close back up tightly enough and some stomach acids are able to trickle into your esophagus. Even if your valve is working fine, sometimes leaning too far forward right after eating can cause a mild case of heartburn. Other things that can cause this valve to weaken are foods such as onions and peppermint, overeating, smoking and alcohol. Women who are pregnant may have their digestive system slow down because of hormones, which may affect this valve. Another thing that can happen during pregnancy is that the uterus pushes against the stomach and forces some acid up through the valve and into the esophagus.
Acid Reflux Disease Symptoms
A burning sensation in the chest and a sour or bitter taste of fluid in the mouth are the primary symptoms of GERD. However, it is possible to have GERD without heartburn. Other telltale signs may include hoarseness in your voice, chest pain, a chronic cough, or a general feeling that something is always stuck in your throat. It is common to experience heartburn at night when you are lying down. Most people who have GERD usually experience a burning sensation right after eating. This pain in your chest can feel like a burning, pressure, weight, tightness, heaviness, a squeezing sensation, and general discomfort or dull ache. It is important to rule out any other problems with your heart, and not just assume that any pain in this area is due to acid reflux.
There are many ways to treat and prevent acid reflux symtoms. These include simple things like taking an antacid when you are experiencing heartburn. Antacids neutralize stomach acids and relieve heartburn. For most people, antacids usually do a good job of minimizing or eliminating any symptoms of acid reflux. However, antacids should only be used by people who have infrequent heartburn, not by someone who has a full blown case of GERD. H2 blockers are another form of over the counter medication you can try. These work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach. You can get them in non-prescription strength, but they are also available in higher strengths with a prescription. H2 blockers can be a good choice for people with more frequent heartburn.
Proton pump inhibitors are prescription medications that reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. These often work when H2 blockers have failed to get rid of all of your acid reflux symptoms. They are also generally used to treat severe GERD symptoms and inflammtion of the esophagus. Trying any of these medications is fine, but if you have to take them longer than two weeks, talk to your doctor. You do not want to let GERD symptoms go too long without exploring a more permanent solution.
Lifestyle Changes for Gastroesophageal Reflux
There are a lot of things you can do to change your habits that may improve or eliminate your GERD problems. Nicotine tends to weaken the lower esophagus muscle, so try and quit smoking in all forms. Try to avoid chewing gum and candy. You swallow a lot of air when eating these foods, and this leads to belching, which can lead to more heartburn. Try to avoid late night snacking and try not to lie down too soon after eating. Try not to wear tight clothing around your middle. Avoid bending over too much immediately after eating. Eat smaller more frequent meals to avoid overeating in one sitting. If you are obese, lose some weight. Most health problems, including acid reflux disease, are aggravated by being overweight. Try to elevate the head of your bed a few inches to avoid GERD symptoms at night.
Changes to Your Diet for GERD
You can also alter your diet for acid reflux. The following foods aggravate acid reflux symptoms and should be avoided as often as possible:
- deep fried foods
- whole milk
- citrus fruits
- citrus juices
- creamed soups
- caffeinated soft drinks
- spicy or acidic foods
Your doctor may recommend having some sort of surgical procedure to cure your acid reflux if other attempts have failed. Fundoplication surgery strengthens the valve between your esphagus and your stomach. This type of surgical procedure is successful about 70% of the time, but sometimes even after surgery some people still need to take medications for the rest of their lives. Surgery is usually an options if all of medications have not worked, perhaps you have too many side effects when taking acid reflux mdeications, or maybe medications relieved some symptoms but not all. Gastropexy attaches the stomach to the diaphragm so the stomach cannot move through the opening in the diaphragm into the chest.
There are also some new non-surgical procedures being tested. These procedures are not considered surgical because they are done through the mouth to gain access to the esophagus. Most of these are done using an endoscope, a small tube placed in the esophagus so the doctor can see into your esophagus during the treatment.
Adopting an acid reflux disease diet and making the recommended changes to your lifestyle are obviously the preferred method of dealing with GERD. Antacids and other medications are the easiest and safest way to try and eliminate your symptoms. Surgery should only be considered as a last resort. Continue reading more on the internet about different GERD treatments. Sometimes you can discover things that work for others that may very well work for you. Different GERD diets are out there - keep looking and hopefully you'll find something that may very well eliminate your GERD problems forever.