A Closer Look At GERD
With life becoming increasingly sedentary and our food more refined, the incidence of GERD is rising.
What it is
“GERD is a chronic digestive disorder in which acidic contents of the stomach flows back up into the esophagus. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach. When the muscle towards the end of the esophagus does not close properly, it allows for the stomach contents to rise back into the esophagus hence causing discomfort.”
“The most common signs and symptoms of GERD include a burning sensation in the chest /heartburn which sometimes spreads to the throat along with a sour taste in the mouth, chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, dry cough, hoarseness of voice or sore throat, or a sensation of a lump in the throat.”
“GERD is not a hereditary condition in its typical sense, though there is probably some genetic predisposition to the development of this disease. GERD was traditionally known to be more common in Western societies, but we are witnessing an increasing prevalence of the disease in developing and newly industrialised societies as well. Lifestyle, environment, food and habits probably have a significant role to play in this. This indicates that clinical manifestation of GERD is probably a complex interaction between nature and nurture.”
“There is no definitive underlying cause for GERD, however an individual’s lifestyle and dietary choices contribute to the occurrence of GERD. Food items like peppermint, fatty, oily and fried food, carbonated and caffeinated drinks can all trigger GERD. Smoking has been very closely linked to GERD. Lifestyle modifications like avoiding fried and fatty foods, eating smaller portions of meals, avoiding sleeping immediately after a meal etc. are advised to patients suffering from the condition. Obesity can also increase the risk and severity of GERD. Overweight individuals are twice as likely to develop the condition whereas obese people are thrice as likely.”
“GERD is a chronic condition that requires long-term medications in a fair proportion of patients. However, many patients with mild GERD can be healed. Patients who respond positively to medication but are unwilling to continue on medication for several years can be treated surgically for an effective and durable relief from symptoms.”
Symptoms of GERD can be prevented by making simple changes in an individual’s life; here are some preventive tips:
- A change in dietary habits can be of great help. Certain food and drinks are more likely to cause GERD although the effect varies from person to person.
- Quitting smoking will help reduce an individual’s chance of getting heartburn/GERD and also eliminate the possibility of being diagnosed with pulmonary disorders.
- Sometimes heartburn may be caused by side effects of certain medications. In such cases, consult your doctor who will suggest an alternative.
- In any of these cases, on experiencing any unusual or alarm symptoms, particularly recurrent acid reflux, one must visit a gastroenterologist.
Aster Hospital, Mankhool