Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) : Symptoms and Treatments
Gastroesophageal reflux also called “acid reflux” occurs when the stomach contents back up into the esophagus. Occasional reflux is normal and can happen in healthy infants, children, and adults, most often after eating a meal. Most episodes are brief and do not cause bothersome symptoms or complications.
In contrast, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) experience bothersome symptoms or damage to the esophagus as a result of acid reflux.
In GERD, you might notice the following symptoms:
- Heartburn, which is a burning feeling in the chest.
- Regurgitation, which is when acid and undigested food flow back into your throat or mouth.
Other symptoms might include:
- Stomach or chest pain.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Having a raspy voice or a sore throat.
- Unexplained cough.
The Treatment Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
There are a few main types of medicines that can help with the symptoms of acid reflux. The most common are antacids, histamine blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. All of these medicines work by reducing or blocking stomach acid. But they each do that in a different way.
- For mild symptoms, antacids can help, but they work only for a short time. Histamine blockers are stronger and last longer than antacids. You can buy antacids and most histamine blockers without a prescription.
- For frequent and more severe symptoms, proton pump inhibitors are the most effective medicines. Some of these medicines are sold without a prescription. But there are other versions that your doctor can prescribe.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better In GERD
Yes. You might feel better if you:
- Lose weight (if you are overweight)
- Raise the head of your bed by 6 to 8 inches – You can do this by putting blocks of wood or rubber under 2 legs of the bed or a foam wedge under the mattress.
- Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse – For some people these include coffee, chocolate, alcohol, peppermint, and fatty foods.
- Stop smoking, if you smoke
- Avoid late meals – Lying down with a full stomach can make reflux worse. Try to plan meals for at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid tight clothing – Some people feel better if they wear comfortable clothing that does not squeeze the stomach area.
If you are suffering from these symptoms contact your gastroenterologist for a personalized opinion.