What is GERD and How Can You Manage It?
We will discuss the causes and symptoms of GERD and ways to manage it.
CheckYourFood NEWSDecember 23, 2022
With Christmas approaching the amount of rich food we’ll be consuming will go through the roof. While that’s all right for most people, for some it can cause acid reflux or heartburn.
Heartburn and acid reflux are two names for the same thing: regurgitation of gastric acid into the oesophagus. While it may sound intense, it happens more commonly than we think. The BBCreports that it affects one in five adults in the United Kingdom.
Heartburn causes an unpleasant experience that is difficult to ignore. The discomfort often feels like a burning sensation in your chest and throat. If you experience this often, you may have gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a more serious form of acid reflux that causes damage to the oesophagus if left untreated. This article will discuss the causes and symptoms of GERD,sometimes referred to as GORD, and ways to manage it.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a chronic condition in which the stomach contents leak backwards into the oesophagus regularly. It occurs when there is too much pressure on the lower oesophageal sphincter, the valve between the stomach and oesophagus. The sphincter normally opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and then closes tightly to prevent acid from moving back up. When there's too much pressure on it, the valve opens more easily and allows acid and partially-digested food to flow back up.
The main symptoms of GERD include:
• A constant burning sensation in the chest;
• An unpleasant taste in the mouth; and
• A cough that keeps coming back.
It can also cause you to feel bloated and sick, which worsens after eating, or when lying down and bending over. The leading cause of GERD is a weakened sphincter, as discussed above, but it can also be aggravated by smoking, alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, and spicy food.
How can you manage GERD?
When left untreated, GERD can lead to complications like damage to the oesophagus lining or even esophageal cancer. Here are three ways you can manage symptoms: 1. Cut down on vices like cigarettes
Cigarettes can worsen GERD because the smoke causes you to produce less saliva , making stomach acid stay in your oesophagus longer than it should. The nicotine pouches listed on Prillademonstrate how nicotine cravings can be satisfied through smoke-free and tobacco-free products. By completely eliminating smoke and substituting cigarettes with alternatives that come in different flavours and strengths, you can avoid a GERD flare-up without causing another set of issues caused by nicotine withdrawal.
2. See your trusted GP
GERD can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications, but it's important to see your doctor if you think you have GERD. TheNHS recommends seeing your general practitioner if you've been experiencing heartburn for more than three weeks. Not all symptoms are related to GERD, so it's necessary to ensure there isn't another cause for your symptoms. Once your GP rules out other ailments, she can prescribe omeprazole or lansoprazole, drugs that block acid production in the stomach and reduce symptoms of acid reflux.
2. Avoid processed foods such as crisps
If you're suffering from GERD, it's crucial to identify and avoid food triggers. Processed foods are one of the worst offenders in this condition. They typically contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, and fats, which can lead to symptoms like heartburn and indigestion. Our blog post, "Should You Eat Ultra-Processed Foods?" provides a checklist of food you should avoid for easy reference. Case in point, most crisps include artificial flavourings on top of fats and salt. You can instead opt for whole foods that give you the nutrients you need without additives that can cause flare-ups.
GERD is a common condition that can be managed if you know and understand its signs and symptoms. Living with it requires a delicate balance between the lifestyle changes you make and the medications you take.