I first heard the term GERD (GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE) a few years ago when I was diagnosed with reflux disease that had affected my esophagus. Prior to the diagnosis, I was experiencing throat pains that I mistook for a sore throat. I had gone to the hospital after some self-medication and was treated for sore throat several times with no success. I was also experiencing pains in the upper part of my stomach and was treated for Helicobacter Pylori. I was then referred to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Center, where I underwent a Laryngoscopy test, the results of which revealed the presence of GERD. Then I had to embark on the long journey of disease treatment and management.
I needed to know how to manage the disease while taking my medication, so I did some research on what to eat and what not to eat, how to change my lifestyle, and so on.
WHAT IS GERD?
“Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a chronic condition in which stomach contents and acid rise up into the esophagus, resulting in symptoms and/or complications. Symptoms include the taste of acid in the back of the mouth, heartburn, bad breath, chest pain, regurgitation, breathing problems, and wearing away of the teeth. Complications include esophagitis, esophageal stricture, and Barrett’s esophagus.”– Wikipedia
“Helicobacter pylori(H. pylori) is a type of bacteria. These germs can enter your body and live in your digestive tract. After many years, they can cause sores, called ulcers, in the lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine.”- webMD
The causes of acid reflux vary; there is no single cause. When the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter) malfunctions, acid reflux is said to occur. The LES is a group of circular muscles at the end of the esophagus that control swallowing by contracting and relaxing.
In my case, I was told that I had left the Helicobacter Pylori situation unattended for too long, which caused the LES to weaken, allowing stomach acid to escape into my throat (acid reflux) and cause the burns.
Other possible causes of Reflux include lying down too soon after eating and eating large portions of food frequently.
Obesity, pregnancy, smoking, eating disorders, frequent use of pain relievers, excessive consumption of soda drinks, and eating too much spicy and fried foods are some lifestyle choices and health factors that may cause Reflux disease.
The following are some conditions that may aggravate the Acid Reflux disease:
- Asthmatic condition – Some acid reflux conditions are accompanied by coughing, as is Asthma, and both conditions affect the upper respiratory and digestive systems of the body. This also means that the presence of Acid reflex can aggravate an asthmatic situation and vice versa.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome – This is a condition that affects the large intestine and shares some symptoms with reflux, such as constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, and so on. A research carried out in 2018 reviewTrusted Source, demonstrates that people with IBS are more prone to acid reflux.
Infants can have GERD, according to research. The symptoms to look out for in infants to determine the likelihood of GERD include frequent vomiting, choking, gagging, hiccups, burps, difficulty swallowing, poor growth, weight loss, coughing, difficulty sleeping, and frequent crying. If an infant exhibits more than two of the above symptoms, the infant may have GERD, and it is safer to consult with a pediatrician for diagnosis and treatment.
During my research, I discovered that I did not have all of the symptoms listed in some write-ups, and that not all of the home remedies listed in some of the write-ups I read worked for me, so I had to take what worked for me and leave others while consulting with my Doctor at various times.
Some of the lifestyle changes I had to make in order to maintain a healthy LES and avoid recurrent reflux include:
– Drinking water first thing in the morning, at least 30 minutes before breakfast.
– Reduce my intake of spicy foods.
– Completely discontinue the consumption of soft drinks.
– Consume a small amount of food at a time.
– Eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime.
– Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day to maintain a healthy weight.
– Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
– Reduce my stress level
– Get a good night’s sleep.
– I take multivitamins every day.
If you have ever been sick and had to be on medication for an extended period of time, you would prefer to make a lifestyle change rather than taking so much medication.
True, health is wealth!
Author : Amiakhor Beatrice Ejaeta
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