To an ordinary person, heartburn may seem normal after eating. One has to beware however, if it becomes persistent as it is the largest part of common sign of the condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. In GERD the food liquid taken and goes from the stomach and back up the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
Heartburn occurs because the partially digested food irritates the esophagus and thus, causes heartburn along with option symptoms. Normally, the lower esopageal sphincter closes off the esophagus from the stomach. In gastroesophageal reflux, the sphincter fails to close properly.
The intake of tremendously acidic foods is one of the reasons why GERD occurs. Eating too much or too fast could also contribute to the condition since in both cases, the food is not cleared from the esophagus fast enough. Often, the acid of the stomach contents simply overwhelms the esophagus and triggers the reflux.
Here’s why gastroesophageal reflux disease should be taken seriously. Once the stomach contents comes back up and touches the lining of the esophagus, a person may assume a flaming sensation in the chest or throat known as heartburn. Sometimes, acid indigestion takes place – the acidic fluid reaches the back of the mouth. Take note that for heartburn to be considered as a symptom of GERD, it must occur more than twice a week.
Other symptoms of gastroesophageal disease are difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness of voice in the morning, sensation of choking, bad breath, sensation of food being stuck in the throat and persistent dry cough. Of course, a person will think uneasiness once the stomach acid reaches the esophagus.
The acid triggers the nerves in the esophagus and damages them, leading to discomfort. If not treated properly, gastroesophageal reflux disease can complicate into conditions such as erosive esophagitis, esophageal strictures, Barrett’s esophagus, and worse esophageal cancer.
The rosy news is, gastroesophageal disease can be prevented and treated in tremendously simple ways. One way is via avoiding foods that trigger GERD symptoms. Coupled with dietary changes, alteration of lifestyle should also be considered. Eating is, after all, a kind of lifestyle. Conversely, any activity that determines stress also increases stomach acidity. Even non attendance of sleep can trigger the condition.
One may not know it, but shaping undergarments and other tight fitting clothing around the waist and abdomen can trigger an increase in abdominal pressure, which in turn causes GERD symptoms. Certain medications too worsen the condition. Thus, the majority of medications are to be taken only after a person has eaten.
Besides a normal diet and lifestyle, an optimistic posture and gravity may also help in preventing and alleviating gastroesophageal reflux. Elevating the head of the bed usually eases the symptoms at night, even though sitting up straight aids digestion.
Biatris Kharkongor is involved in healthcare market research and healthcare product review since 2010. She loves to write on various health topics.