What is GERD?
gastroesophageal reflux disease n. Abbr. GERD
“A chronic condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter allows gastric acids to reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn, acid indigestion, and possible injury to the esophageal lining.” gerd. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gerd (accessed: June 22, 2007).
What are the symptoms of GERD?
* Frequent heartburn, two or more times per week.
* No heart burn, but frequent dry cough or asthma like symptoms.
* Difficult or painful swallowing.
I have frequent heartburn. Should I see a Doctor?
Everyone of us will experience heartburn at some time in our lives. How do you know when your heartburn has become chronic and requires the attention of a medical doctor?
You should see a doctor immediately if you experience increased heartburn, you are having difficulty swallowing, you experience repeated belching, or if you have been using over the counter antacids for more than two weeks.
If you are experiencing vomiting, especially vomiting with blood, or stomach pains you should immediately visit your local ER or urgi-care clinic. These symptoms are indications that your GERD symptoms are caused by a more serious condition such as, ulcers, gallbladder disease, and heart disease.
Is GERD preventable?
Many individuals find relief from GERD with a few simple lifestyle changes.
* Use a bed wedge to raise the head of your bed 6″ to 8″.
* Avoid fatty and/or spicy foods.
* Avoid eating before bed. Many doctors recommend at least two hours.
* Lose weight, even just a few pounds can make a huge difference.
* Reduce or eliminate alcohol, tea, and coffe intake.
* Quit smoking.
* Take all medications with a full glass to help prevent heartburn.
If your GERD symptoms persist or worsen even with lifestyle changes you should consult with your doctor. Your doctor may schedule additional tests to be sure your GERD is not a symptom of a more serious condition.
It’s just heartburn, so what’s the big deal?
Heartburn and GERD can lead to a narrowed esophagus making it diffcult to eat and swallow. Even worse untreated GERD can lead to esophageal cancer. A painful and often fatal form of cancer.
All symptoms should be taken seriously and all prescribed medicines should be used as directed help keep your body healthy and functioning properly. A diet high in fiber and proper hydration will also help prevent and/or limit heartburn and GERD.