How to Steer Clear of GERD (The Acid Reflux Disease)

(Photo Credit : Deardoctor)
(Photo Credit : Deardoctor)

Do you sometimes feel  a rising flow of acidic liquid from your stomach into your esophagus?  Then you  usually attempt to immediately swallow it back again?

Well, it’s called acid reflux and occurs in most normal individuals, but when you experience it more frequently, watch out;  you might be suffering from GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, which is also known as Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), Gastric Reflux Disease, or Acid Reflux Disease, a condition wherein the esophagus becomes irritated or  worse, inflamed because of acid backing up from the stomach.

GERD happens when a muscle at the end of our esophagus does not close properly, and allows our stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it. A big discomfort, right?

Reflux may occur as frequently in normal individuals as in patients with GERD, but in patients with GERD,  the refluxed liquid contains acid more often, and the acid remains in the esophagus longer.

If you are experiencing occasional heartburn  (burning sensation or pain in the lower part of your mid-chest, behind your breast bone, or in the mid-abdomen), regurgitation (vomit/eject partially digested contents of the stomach through the mouth) and/or dysphagia (trouble or difficulty swallowing), you may be a candidate for GERD.

Those symptoms are not very pleasant, right?  How to prevent having GERD?  Well, it’s not really that hard.  Some lifestyle changes often times help prevent symptoms of GERD.

  • Sleep on your left side, or elevate your upper body at bedtime.  Some people are able to prevent symptoms at night by raising the head of their bed with 6-inch blocks or by sleeping on a special wedge-shaped pillow that elevates the upper part of the body.  Relief is often found by raising the head of the bed to 30 degrees, raising the upper body with pillows, or sleeping sitting up. The upper body must be raised, not just the head; pillows that only raise the head do little for heartburn and put strain on the neck. Sleeping on the left side also keeps gravity working for you, keeping your stomach below your esophagus; hence, lessen those symptoms.
  • Consume  smaller meals. Consuming so much food in one meal causes excess stomach acid production; hence, minimize attacks by minimizing  food intake especially before your bedtime. Avoid bending forward or exercising immediately after eating.  Avoid lying down for more or less three hours after a meal.
  • Wear loose and comfy clothing.  Avoid belts and garments that fit tightly around your waist.  Tight clothing around the abdomen can also increase the risk of heartburn
  • Go for your ideal weight.  Obesity could increase your risk of heartburn. More body fat puts more pressure on the stomach, which can cause highly acidic stomach contents to reflux to the lower esophageal sphincter. Likewise, wearing tight clothing around the abdomen can also increase the risk of heartburn.
  • Avoid acidic and rich foods. Reduce the amount of acid reflux by avoiding these foods which could trigger symptoms – acidic fruit or juices, fatty foods, coffee, tea, onions, peppermint, chocolate, especially shortly before bedtime. Carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, spicy foods, and tomato sauce may irritate the lining of your esophagus and make the effects of GERD more severe.
  • Quit smoking (if you’re a smoker, that is.)  Nicotine is an irritating substance that could trigger heartburn.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks for same reasons as smoking.
  • Some medications, such as birth control pills and drugs for osteoporosis, may cause reflux and heartburn as a side effect; so if you have them, consult your doctor about alternative  medications.  However, do not stop taking your prescription medication until your doctor tell you so.
  • Reduce stress.  Stress aggravates symptoms.

Prevention is always so much better than cure.  Have a GERD-free life, fellows!  ^_^

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