Causes & Symptoms
The causes of GERD include:
- Caffeine consumption
- Diet rich in fatty acids
- Hiatus Hernia
GERD is usually caused because of a problem with the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES) muscle. This muscle is at the bottom of the oesophagus, which runs from the back of the throat to the stomach.
Symptoms of GERD include:
- Burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), usually after eating
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- The sensation of a lump in the throat
When it comes to night-time acid reflux, you might also experience symptoms like chronic cough, disrupted sleep, asthmatic issues, or laryngitis. Knowing your symptoms well is important to determine the right medication to treat GERD.
What foods cause GERD?
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Spicy foods
- Tomatoes and tomato-based foods
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
Some of the above foods can also worsen symptoms of a disease such as GERD as they cause the LES to relax.
FAQs of GERD
Does GERD affect the heart?
The pain arising during GERD, called heartburn, has nothing to do with the heart. It pertains to the burning sensation felt at the LES near the oesophagus. However, there may be an association between GERD and heart health. Recent research suggests that GERD is associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart diseases.
What are the bad habits that can lead to GERD?
Poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, consumption of junk food or food high in saturated fats, and bad eating patterns can worsen the symptoms of GERD. Most times, lifestyle changes along with medications are needed to treat the symptoms of GERD.
How does GERD differ from heartburn?
Heartburn is not a condition but a symptom of acid reflux that causes a burning sensation. It originates in the oesophagus and one can feel it near the heart.
When symptoms of acid reflux occur frequently, it is a sign that the person has GERD.
Can GERD lead to other health problems?
Untreated GERD can cause permanent damage to the oesophagus, and in some cases, could also cause cancer. Over-the-counter medicine such as antacids and home remedies can be used for the treatment of GERD at home.
For preventing GERD and relieving its symptoms, you might be advised to make modifications to your eating habits and make other lifestyle changes.
Significant relief can be experienced by taking over-the-counter medications, like:
- H2 receptor blockers
- proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
Antacids can be found in powerful oral medications such as Gaviscon which use sodium alginate, a viscous formulation that forms a protective barrier in the stomach. The antacids in Gaviscon turn the excess acid into water. The combination of sodium alginate and antacids provides powerful relief, letting you enjoy life to the fullest. Always read the label prior to use. Use as directed on the pack.
In some cases, you might be prescribed stronger H2 receptor blockers or PPIs.
If your case is severe and your condition isn’t responding to other treatments, surgery could be recommended.
Article published 1 July 2021