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Important Facts About Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

I have been diagnosed five years ago to have gastro esophageal reflux disease, commonly termed as GERD. This kind of disease is actually recurring as pointed out to me by my doctor, especially if one does not take extra precaution. What is GERD and how does it affect the life of the patient? How do we avoid its recurrence?

Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a result of a high acidity of the stomach juice  and it refluxes or it irritates the area of connection between the stomach and esophagus.  The symptoms of this disease range from pain in the epigastric region (region of the stomach right below the ribs),  chest tightness, heartburn, belching, sour taste in the throat, difficulty to swallow because of  choking sensation in the throat  or chest area, or unexplained hoarseness or coughing.  Heartburn related to GERD is typically felt after a meal.

What could be the causes of GERD?  Research says that there is no exact cause for GERD but there are factors that could trigger it and make reflux gets worse.  These are the following:    

  • Drugs: For anti-allergies or antihistamines, Calcium channel blockers, nitrates and theophylline (Tedral, Hydrophed, Marax, Bronchial, Quibron)
  • Lifestyle: Drinking alcohol, cigarette smoking,  bad posture and obesity                                          
  • Diet:  Fatty foods, hot and spicy foods, soda and caffeinated drinks and sour-tasting fruits and foods (citrus and tomatoes)and chololates 
  • Eating habits: - Eating meals abundantly and eating shortly before bedtime

In addition to this list, lying at your back to sleep without pillow could cause some acid to flow back from the stomach, especially, if the sphincter is weak.  The doctors advice to patients who have this problem is to recline when sleeping, thus, big pillows may help.  In my case, since I cannot sleep on big pillows, my doctor‘s advice is just to take a very light dinner always.      

GERD, fortunately, is curable, but the problem is its recurrence, especially if irritating substances are ingested.   As mentioned, several  drugs can irritate the stomach, so it is best to ask your doctor if the drugs you are taking to treat other disease  need to be ingested in full stomach.  Avoid missing meals because letting the stomach empty for long period may cause gastric acid to increase. 

Drugs that can treat  GERD include H2 blocking agents like cimetidine as well as ranitidine.  Likewise, proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs like omeprazole and lanzoprazole are prescribed.  The drugs to treat GERD are potent, so you need a physician to give you directions on how to take them.

If left untreated, GERD can lead to serious complications such as, esophagitis, ulcers, Barrett’s esophagus and a high risk to esophageal cancer. 

Recurring disease is more often than not, within our control, so it is up to us if we follow strictly our doctor’s advice and change our lifestyle for better health.

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Comments (4)

I have taken some of these steps such as not eating close to bedtime, eating smaller portions and another thing that has helped a great deal is that I no longer drink water straight from the tap. I now keep a pitcher of day old water in the fridge that I drink from. Tap water always seemed to upset my stomach but now that I let it sit for a day to allow the chlorine to dissapate, 

WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE!!!

Thanks for that information Judith..thanks too, Joy!

Thank you for your informative article, ViLuz. Tweeted.

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