Definition

A common gastrointestinal disorder where the contents of the stomach backwash. This is because the sphincter that closes the stomach off from the esophagus relaxes and opens up inappropriately.

 Symptoms include Chest pain, Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), Persistent dry cough, Hoarseness or sore throat, regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux), Sensation of a lump in your throat.

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Causes

Anything that relaxes the sphincter can worsen symptoms therefore avoidance is helpful to prevent these symptoms.

  • Foods include fatty foods, soda, wine, chocolate, cheese, tobacco, citrus foods, and peppermint. It is also helpful to eat small frequent meals, avoid eating too late at night, do not to go to bed immediately after eating as well.
  • Obesity is a contributing factor so controlling your weight is helpful not only for controlling symptoms but also for prevention of many chronic diseases
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Prevention

These avoidance measures are the best treatment for GERD. Avoid fatty foods, soda, wine, chocolate, cheese, tobacco, citrus foods, and peppermint

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Treatment

For short term, antacids, acid reducers are helpful towards healing but long-term treatment with these medications are not usually encouraged. This is because they can impact proper digestion as well as impede proper absorption of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, Calcium, Vitamin D. In some patients, chronic therapy is warranted because of the presence of Barrett’s esophagus which is precancerous. Important to follow the direction of your gastroenterologist.

  • Nutrition : It is always important to eat small frequent meals, preferably with a lower fat content, whole foods, plant based, lean protein, complex carbohydrates. Avoid foods mentioned above like fatty foods, soda, wine, chocolate, cheese, tobacco, citrus foods, and peppermint. Sometimes for difficult cases a FODMAP diet is recommended.
  • Exercise :  It is important for general health and for maintaining our weight since obesity is a driving factor.
  • Stress : Stress worsens our symptoms because it opens our esophageal sphincter. Efforts to manage your stress through exercise, meditation, prayer etc. is important.
  • Sleep : It is important to have good sleep hygiene. In addition, you may benefit from elevating the head of your bed.
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