Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) - Chronic Acid Reflux
Your stomach acid runs back up into your mouth through your oesophagus when you have GERD (chronic acid reflux). Heartburn, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, a sense of food stuck in your throat, and other issues are possible.
What is GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)?
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, often known as chronic acid reflux) is a disorder in which acid-containing contents from your stomach seep back up into your oesophagus, the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
When food reaches your stomach, a valve at the end of your oesophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter fails to seal properly, causing acid reflux. Acid backwash then travels up your oesophagus, through your throat, and into your mouth, leaving you with a sour taste.
Nearly everyone experiences acid reflux at some point in their lives. It's very natural to experience acid reflux and heartburn from time to time. However, if you suffer acid reflux/heartburn more than twice a week for several weeks, take heartburn meds and antacids regularly, and your symptoms persist, you may have GERD. Your GERD should be treated by a medical professional. Not only to alleviate your symptoms, but also because GERD can progress to more serious complications.
What are the most common GERD (chronic acid reflux) symptoms?
Heartburn and acid regurgitation are the most common symptoms. Some people suffer from GERD without experiencing heartburn. Instead, they have chest pain, hoarseness in the morning, or difficulty swallowing. You may feel as if food is trapped in your throat, as if you are choking, or as if your throat is constricted. A dry cough and poor breath are also symptoms of GERD.
What exactly is heartburn?
Acid reflux causes heartburn as a symptom. It's a terrible burning sensation in the centre of your chest caused by stomach acid irritation of the esophageal lining.
Burning can occur at any time, but it is more common after eating. Many people's heartburn becomes worse when they recline or lie down in bed, making it difficult to obtain a decent night's sleep.
Heartburn is commonly treatable with over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn/acid indigestion medications. Stronger medications such as Omeprazole may be prescribed by your doctor to assist you manage your heartburn.
What should I do if I suspect I'm suffering from GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
When you have GERD, the tissue lining your oesophagus is routinely beaten by stomach acid, which occurs more frequently than once in a while. The tissue is eventually ruined. You can see how chronic acid reflux and heartburn affects your everyday eating and sleeping patterns if you experience it.
Call your healthcare practitioner if GERD is making your daily life difficult in this way. Although GERD isn't fatal in and of itself, the chronic inflammation of the oesophagus it causes can lead to more serious complications. To relieve your symptoms, you may need stronger prescription drugs or possibly surgery.
What is the prevalence of GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
GERD is a relatively frequent condition. The illness and its symptoms affect a large number of people: 20% of the population of the United States.
GERD can affect people of any age, but some are more susceptible than others. After the age of 40, for example, your odds of developing GERD (mild or severe) grow.
It's also more likely to affect you if you're:#
- Obese or overweight
- Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke on a frequent basis
- Certain drugs have the potential to cause acid reflux.
What causes acid reflux in the first place?
The lower esophageal sphincter's weakening or relaxation causes acid reflux (valve). After food enters your stomach, this valve normally closes tightly. Your stomach contents will rise back up into the oesophagus if it relaxes when it shouldn't.
Reflux occurs when stomach acids flow back up into the oesophagus.
This can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- An excessive amount of pressure is applied to the abdomen. Because of the additional pressure, some pregnant women feel heartburn virtually every day
- Food preferences (dairy, spicy, or fried dishes, for example) and eating habits
- Painkillers, sedatives, and anti-depressants are among the medications used to treat asthma, high blood pressure, and allergies, as well as painkillers, sedatives, and anti-depressants
- A hiatal hernia is a hernia in the stomach. The upper section of the stomach protrudes into the diaphragm, obstructing normal meal intake.
How can you know if you have GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
GERD affects various people in different ways. The following are the most common signs and symptoms:
- Food comes back into your mouth from the esophagus
- The sensation of food becoming stuck in your throat
- Pain in the chest
- Having difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness and a sore throat
GERD symptoms can be similar in infants and children, including:
- Acidic sour flavour, particularly when lying down
- Hoarseness in the throat
- Choking sensation that may cause the youngster to wake awake
- Small bouts of vomiting on a regular basis
- Excessive crying and a refusal to eat (in babies and infants)
- Other breathing (respiratory) issues
- Bad breath is a problem
- Sleep disturbances after feeding, particularly in newborns
How can I tell if I'm getting heartburn or if I'm having a heart attack?
Heartburn can create chest pain that makes you think you're having a heart attack. Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, but because the discomfort occurs in your chest, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Heart attack symptoms, on the other hand, are not the same as heartburn sensations.
Heartburn is an unpleasant burning sensation or pain in the chest that can spread to the neck and throat. Symptoms of a heart attack include discomfort in the arms, neck, and jaw, as well as shortness of breath, perspiration, nausea, dizziness, excessive weariness, and worry.
Is it possible for GERD (chronic acid reflux) to induce asthma?
The specific association between GERD and asthma is unknown. GERD affects more than 75% of patients with asthma. They are twice as likely to suffer from GERD than persons who do not suffer from asthma. Asthma medications may aggravate GERD, and GERD medications may aggravate GERD. However, addressing GERD typically aids in the relief of asthma symptoms.
The symptoms of GERD can cause damage to the lining of the throat, airways, and lungs, making breathing difficult and resulting in a chronic cough, which could indicate a relationship. Doctors consider GERD to be a cause of asthma if:
- Adult-onset asthma is detected
- Asthma symptoms worsen after eating, exercising, sleeping, and lying down
- Standard asthma therapies do not improve asthma symptoms
If you have asthma and GERD, your doctor can help you identify the best treatment options for both diseases, including drugs and treatments that won't aggravate symptoms.
Is GERD (chronic acid reflux) a life-threatening condition?
In and of itself, GERD isn't life-threatening or harmful. Long-term GERD, on the other hand, can lead to more significant health issues:
- Esophagitis is a condition in which the lining of the oesophagus becomes irritated and inflamed due to stomach acid. Esophagitis can lead to esophageal ulcers, heartburn, chest pain, bleeding, and difficulty swallowing.
- Barrett's oesophagus: Barrett's oesophagus is a condition that affects roughly 10% of those who have had GERD for a long time. Over time, the damage caused by acid reflux might alter the cells that line the oesophagus. Barrett's oesophagus is a precursor to esophageal cancer.
- Esophageal cancer: There are two forms of cancer that start in the oesophagus. The lower section of the oesophagus is where adenocarcinoma frequently occurs. Barrett's oesophagus can lead to this type. Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that starts in the cells that lining the oesophagus. The upper and middle parts of the oesophagus are commonly affected by this malignancy.
- Strictures: The injured lining of the oesophagus can become scarred, causing the oesophagus to narrow. These strictures can make eating and drinking difficult because they restrict food and liquid from reaching the stomach.
If I have GERD (chronic acid reflux disease), what foods should I avoid?
Controlling the symptoms of GERD requires changing your diet and eating habits. Try to stay away from the meals that cause you to have heartburn.
Many people, for example, suffer from heartburn as a result of:
- Foods that are hot or spicy
- Foods that are fried
- Foods that are high in fat (including dairy)
- Sauces made using tomatoes
- Onions and garlic
- alcoholic beverages, coffee, and carbonated beverages
- Fruits of the citrus family
Keep a list of the meals that cause you problems. To obtain assistance with this, speak with your provider. They'll give you tips on how to keep track of what you eat and when you should eat it.