Is it Heartburn or Are You Suffering from GERD?

Overview:

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) symptoms are when the stomach acid flows back into the tube (esophagus) that separates your mouth from your stomach, repeatedly. This backwash may aggravate the lining of your esophagus (acid reflux).

Many people occasionally experience acid reflux. However, chronic acid reflux can lead to GERD if it frequently occurs over time. Heartburn, acid indigestion, difficulty swallowing, the feeling of food stuck in your throat, and other issues could occur.

About 20% of Americans suffer from GERD, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). It occasionally results in serious complications if left untreated. The majority of people can control their GERD discomfort by making lifestyle changes and taking medications. Explore more about Clinical Research in Michigan near you to find potential treatment options for GERD. 

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. The lining of your esophagus is irritated by stomach acid, causing a burning pain in the middle of your chest.

Although it can happen anytime, burning is frequently worse after eating. Many people find it difficult to fall asleep because their heartburn gets worse when they lie in bed or recline.

Fortunately, over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn/acid indigestion medications can usually be used to treat heartburn. To help control your heartburn, your doctor may also prescribe stronger medications.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Vs. Heartburn:

It’s critical to understand that GERD can be distinguished from occasional heartburn, which may not require medical attention.

Heartburn is a common occurrence for most people, and in most cases, it’s nothing to worry about. But if you’ve been having chest pain and heartburn more than twice a week, you may have GERD, especially if you also have a persistent cough.

What are the Causes of GERD?

The lower esophageal sphincter is prone to weakness or relaxation, which results in acid reflux (valve). After food enters your stomach, this valve typically closes tightly. The contents of your stomach can rise back up into your esophagus if it relaxes when it shouldn’t. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is brought on by the flow of stomach acids back up into the esophagus. The following factors could play a role in this:

  • The abdomen is under too much pressure. This frequently occurs in pregnant women and can cause heartburn for some pregnant women almost every day. 
  • Specific food groups (like dairy, spicy, or fried foods) and eating patterns.
  • Medications include painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants, and medications for allergies, high blood pressure, and asthma.
  • An abdominal hernia. The upper portion of the stomach protrudes into the diaphragm, obstructing normal food intake.

What are the Symptoms of GERD?

GERD has varying effects on different people. The most typical ones are:

  • Heartburn,
  • Regurgitation, 
  • Throat tightening,
  • Coughing,
  • Chest pain,
  • Difficulty swallowing,
  • Vomiting, and
  • Throat discomfort and hoarseness.

Children and infants can both experience the same GERD symptoms, including:

  • Frequent episodes of small vomiting,
  • Excessive crying and a lack of appetite (in babies and infants),
  • Other challenges with breathing (respiration),
  • The recurring acidic aftertaste, especially when lying down,
  • Throat roaring,
  • A choking sensation that could cause the child to wake up,
  • Poor breath, and
  • Having trouble falling asleep after eating, especially in babies.

Diagnosis of GERD?

By asking you about your symptoms and medical background, your doctor can typically determine whether you have simple acid reflux (not chronic). You can discuss managing your Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) symptoms with your doctor, through diet and medication.

Your healthcare professional might suggest getting tested for GERD if these strategies don’t work. GERD tests include:

  • Endoscopy and biopsy of the upper GI tract: Your doctor looks at the lining of your upper GI tract using an endoscope, a long tube with a light attached (esophagus and stomach, and duodenum). To check for GERD or other issues, the doctor also removes a tiny piece of tissue (biopsy).
  • Upper GI series: X-rays of your upper GI tract’s upper series show any GERD-related issues. As the X-ray technician takes pictures, you ingest barium, a liquid that travels through your digestive system.
  • Impedance, esophageal pH, and Bravo wireless esophageal pH monitoring: Both of these examinations check the pH levels in your esophagus. Your healthcare provider places a tiny tube in your stomach through your mouth or nose. You are then given a pH monitor to use at home while you carry on with your regular eating and sleeping routines. The Bravo system will be worn for 48 hours while the esophageal pH and impedance monitors will be worn for 24 hours each.
  • Esophageal manometry: This procedure evaluates the lower esophageal sphincter’s and the esophageal muscles’ ability to function properly in moving food from the esophagus to the stomach. A tiny flexible tube with sensors is insert into your nose by your healthcare provider. As you swallow, these sensors track the force of your sphincter, your muscles, and any spasms.

How can we treat GERD?

Medication:

A lifestyle change can help a lot of people get rid of their symptoms. Others might need medication to stop or treat heartburn and acid reflux. Your physician might suggest over-the-counter or prescribed medicines like, H2-receptor blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid AC) or cimetidine (Tagamet HB), antacids like calcium carbonate (Tums), mucosal protectors like sucralfate (Carafate), proton pump inhibitors like rabeprazole (Aciphex), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), and esomeprazole (Nexium)

Surgery:

Only very rarely do acid reflux and heartburn require surgery. The Nissen fundoplication procedure, a surgical procedure to treat acid reflux. A portion of your stomach is lifted during this procedure, and the area where your stomach and esophagus meet is tightened. Your lower esophageal sphincter’s pressure is increased as a result.

Use a laparoscope to carry out this procedure. After it is done, you will need to stay in the hospital for one to three days. The outcomes are very effective, and complications are extremely uncommon. Surgery, however, may result in more bloating, flatulence, or difficulty swallowing.

Which Food Items Should I Stay Away from if I have GERD?

Controlling the signs and symptoms of GERD is largely dependent on modifying your diet and eating routine. Try to stay away from the foods that cause your heartburn.

For instance, many people experience heartburn due to:

  • Spicy food,
  • Fried food,
  • Foods high in fat (including dairy),
  • Chocolate,
  • Tomato sauce,
  • Onions and garlic,
  • Drinks like coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and
  • Citrus fruits.

Keep a list of the foods that make you feel unwell. Discuss this with your healthcare provider to get assistance. They will offer advice on how to record the foods and times of day you should eat.

Outlook:

The symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) are manageable. You should be able to reduce your GERD symptoms to a manageable level if you modify your eating and sleeping schedules and take medications as necessary.

Your doctor will make a treatment plan. Depending on where you are with the condition, OTC drugs, prescription drugs, and even surgery are all options.

Don’t let chronic heartburn prevent you from enjoying life. If you think you might be experiencing GERD symptoms, consult your doctor. Various Clinical Research organizations are providing Paid GERD Clinical Trials in Michigan to assist you and countless others with finding a solution to this complex condition.

Also Read: Psoriasis: More than Just Flaky & Itchy Skin

Tabish

Moin Tabish is a Software Engineer and a Digital Content Producer And Marketer Particularly related to medical technology, Software Development, and More.

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