Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common gastrointestinal diagnosis, a leading reason for endoscopy, and the cause of potentially serious complications. Approximately one-quarter of people living in western countries have experienced GERD, and the prevalence appears to be on the rise.
In GERD, liquid contents in the stomach back up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle has a role in preventing reflux, but in GERD patients it inappropriately relaxes, says Dr. Dr. Ned Snyder, chief of gastroenterology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston, Texas. He tells Newsmax that almost everyone will experience GERD at some time, but, by definition, people with GERD have at least two episodes a week, or one severe episode a week.
“It is seen in all age groups and commonly in both males and females,” says Snyder. You are more likely to have GERD if you are overweight, smoke, are pregnant, or have a hiatal hernia in which some of the stomach is above the diaphragm.
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which could get worse with stress, pregnancy, or after consuming fatty foods, drinking alcohol or coffee, and even after eating chocolate.
“Sometimes eating late at night and going straight to bed can trigger the symptoms of Ged,” adds Snyder. “If GERD is interfering with your daily life, it’s time to seek medical help.”
Treatment usually consists of several lifestyle modifications including weight loss, staying away from trigger foods, elevating the head at night, and eating dinner earlier. In mild cases, antacids on an as-needed basis may be all that is required.
Mild acid reducers called H2 receptor antagonists like Zantac, Tagamet, or Pepcid AC are available over the counter. For more severe cases, a group of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) are used such as Prilosec, Prevacid, or Nexium may be prescribed but Snyder says that there’s concern over their long-term use.
There are several natural ways to treat GERD. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, eating high fiber foods that fill you up faster can help prevent GERD. Good choices are whole grains, root vegetables, and green vegetables.
Alkaline foods such as bananas, melons, cauliflower, and nuts can also reduce excess acid. Experts add that water foods such as celery, cucumber, and watermelon are soothing because they dilute the aced.
Ekta Gupta, M.D., a gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine, says that drinking nonfat milk, or eating nonfat yogurt, can help alleviate the symptoms. She also recommends sipping ginger tea when you feel heartburn coming on.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.