Do you have heartburn occasionally or do you have it on a frequent basis? Have you heard of GERD? Do you think you could possibly be suffering from it?
GERD stands for gastroesphageal reflux disease. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly. What is the LES? It is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. It kind of works similar to a valve would between the esophagus and the stomach. When it stays open too long, stomach acid seeps out and then enters the esophagus. .
Of course, as you might expect, heartburn is the main symptom of GERD. The heartburn occurs because of the acid that seeps out into the esophagus. Yet, people can also have GERD and will not experience any heart burn.
There are a few other symptoms that goes along with GERD. These symptoms include: pain in the chest, hoarseness (especially in the morning hours), and trouble swallowing. People have even complained about feeling as if they had food stuck in their throat or the feeling of chocking on a continued basis. GERD can even cause one to experience a dry cough and bad breath.
Left untreated, GERD can also led to many other health problems such as bleeding, ulcers, tissue damage and even cancer.
What causes GERD? Researchers are not positive as to what causes it. But they do no believe that a hiatal hernai can be a contributing factor. A hiatal hernia occurs when the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest becomes out of position and ends up above the diaphragm. Our diaphragm usually aides the lower esophageal sphincter in keeping acid away from our the esophagus. If a person has a hiatal hernia, the diaphragm is not in the position to do this.
There are also other triggers that may cause GERD such as: excess weight, pregnancy and smoking, and eating certain foods such as chocolate, citrus, caffeinated drinks, fatty and fried foods, garlic and onions, mints, spicy foods, tomatoes, tomato based foods such as spaghetti and pizza.
What can you do if you think you have GERD? Go and see your doctor. A simple exam will show if you are indeed suffering from GERD or heartburn.
What will the doctor do if he/she thinks it is GERD? You will probably be prescribed medication if GERD is suspected. Sometimes some simple stomach tests will also be run, to decided which medicine will suit your condition best.
The best news is that GERD is treatable. So if you are having heartburn on a continued basis, don’ t wait a day longer. See your doctor and see if it is really heartburn or GERD.