GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus or food pipe. The reflux or backwash causes irritation on esophagus lining. Many people suffer from heartburn or acid reflux from time to time. It is a very common condition. However, if you have it too often, you need to have immediate treatment for it. If you don’t get it treated, your esophagus lining can be damaged and cause you to suffer from GERD.
Causes and symptoms of GERD
This condition is caused by an esophageal sphincter that relaxes abnormally. In normal condition, the valve will relax when you swallow liquid or food so that it flows down into the stomach. However, when it relaxes abnormally, stomach acid or stomach content will flow back into the esophagus. Pregnant women are more prone to acid reflux because of hormone imbalance and growing fetus. Other conditions that cause GERD are hiatal hernia, slow emptying of your stomach, and abnormalities of the esophageal sphincter.
People who suffer from GERD will suffer certain symptoms. The symptoms of this condition are:
- - Heartburn or burning sensation in the chest and throat plus sour taste in the mouth
- - Swallowing difficulty
- - Sore throat
- - Dry cough
- - Acid reflux
- - Chest pain
Treatment for GERD
If you suffer from heartburn and acid reflux too often, you need to see a doctor. It can cause some complications, such as esophagitis, bleeding, and esophageal narrowing. If you suffer heartburn only once in a while, you can take OTC medications that can help you manage your heartburn. Therefore, your esophageal lining will not be irritated and you can avoid GERD.
Medications for people with GERD:
It will neutralize the stomach acid. Therefore, you can avoid esophageal irritation. This medication can work effectively and provide immediate releive.
- Medications to heal the esophagus and block stomach acid production
Proton pump inhibitors can block stomach acid production. It can reduce the production of stomach acid for more than 12 hours. Therefore, the esophagus has more chance to heal. Proton pump inhibitors are strong medication. You need to read the label of this drug carefully and take it properly to avoid unwanted side effects.
If OTC medication cannot give you effective solution, you need to get prescribed medications. They are stronger than OTC medications. One of them is stronger proton pump inhibitors. Doctors may also give you medication to make the lower esophageal sphincter stronger. This medication is called baclofen. It will reduce the frequency of the valve’s relaxations. It is only prescribed for severe GERD. The side effects of this medication are confusion and fatigue.
To avoid heartburn and GERD, you need to change your lifestyle. It is important for you to avoid drinks or foods that trigger heartburn. You also need to eat smaller meals and maintain your weight. Extra pounds can cause more pressure on the abdomen so that stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. If you are smoking, you need to stop smoking. This bad habit can cause lower esophageal sphincter relaxation abnormalities.