Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD is a digestive ailment that affects the lower part of the esophageal sphincter, the muscle ring located in the middle of the stomach and the esophagus. Most people, including many pregnant women experience acidity, indigestion and heartburn because of GERD.
Most doctors agree that some people are also likely to suffer from this ailment because of a medical condition known as the hiatal hernia. In most cases, GERD can be cured through proper changes in the diet and lifestyle. In some cases, however, medication or surgery is required for treating this issue.
What Happens in GERD?
Generally, when we digest our food, the lower esophageal sphincter, known as the LES opens to let the food pass through the stomach. At the same time, it also contracts to prevent food and other acidic juices of our stomach from getting back to the esophagus.
GERD occurs when the esophageal sphincter is weak and unexpectedly relaxes, thereby letting the contents of the stomach to flow up along the esophagus. This leads to heartburn, acidity and a severe condition of indigestion. One can take appropriate medication and adapt relevant lifestyle changes to prevent and cure GERD.
What Are the Symptoms of GERD?
Although, not everyone diagnosed with GERD is likely to experience heartburn, yet the main symptoms of GERD continue to be regurgitation, heartburn and an acidic taste in the mouth.
Heartburn is mainly described as a sensation of burning pain at the central part of the chest. It may begin high from the abdomen and then eventually extend to the neck and/or the back. According to Safe Symptoms, the pain is likely to be sharp and pressure inducing, instead of just rendering a burning sensation. Such pain is almost like heart pain and is known as angina. Generally, the heartburn caused because of GERD occurs right after a meal.
Besides heart burn, another major symptom of GERD is hoarseness. It has been observed if the acid reflux manages to pass through the upper sphincter of the esophagus; it is also likely to enter the pharynx and the larynx. Therefore, both our throat and voice box are affected, eventually leading to sore throat and hoarseness.
This might even take a bigger shape in the form of Laryngitis. GERD might also lead to chronic dry coughs, especially at the time of night. This ailment is one of the primary reasons of unexplained coughing. It is still not clear, how exactly the cough is aggravated by the GERD.
Asthma is yet another symptom of GERD. The reflux acid is likely to worsen asthma by affecting the airways. Additionally, the medicines used for treating asthma, can make the situation worse.
Most people suffering from GERD also experience a feeling of having a lump in their throat. The amount of saliva suddenly increases and there is also unexplained bad breath. Ear aches are common and so are chest pain and discomfort near the heart. In case you experience either one or more of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately to get yourself treated right away.
How is GERD Treated?
GERD is not a major illness and it can be treated with the right antacids and medication. While experiencing pain or discomfort in the tummy, you should immediately take an antacid that neutralizes the acid in your stomach.
There are many such antacids that work immediately and offer quick relief. But besides using the antacids, you will also have to control your diet regime. Besides, also remember that the excessive use of these antacids is likely to cause constipation and even diarrhea.
Besides taking medication that neutralizes the acid content in your stomach, you should also take medicines that reduce and finally block the production of acid. These medicines also heal the esophagus and offer quick relief from the discomfort. Most of these medicines are likely to reduce your discomfort for twelve hours or more. More powerful versions of these medicines are available in the form of prescriptions. These medicines are also highly useful as they effectively heal the esophageal tissues.
Now that you know better about the symptoms and treatment of GERD, do not overlook the issue and take ample medication right away to treat the ailment. Likewise, also make it a point to lead a healthy diet regime to avoid all possibilities of developing this disease in the long run.