Did you know that 20% of the U.S. population suffers from GERD? But what is GERD?
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as chronic acid reflux. GERD can result in heartburn, as an excess of stomach acid rises into the esophagus and creates inflammation. For many, GERD is more than just a nuisance, it’s a daily hurdle.
But, is there any way to cure GERD? Well, not exactly. However, it is treatable.
With the right prevention and treatment methods, you can turn GERD from a daily hassle to an infrequent occurrence. Read this guide to find out all the GERD information you need to know.
What Causes GERD?
GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the stomach and esophagus. It is generally caused by a weak or irregular esophageal sphincter. This muscle, located at the bottom of the esophagus, acts as a valve that controls what goes in and out of the esophagus.
When the sphincter does not operate properly, stomach acid may rise and irritate the esophageal lining. This can cause damaging effects such as scarring, sores, and even some cancers. Things that may cause a weakened esophageal sphincter to include:
- Being overweight or obese
- High caffeine or alcohol intake levels
A less severe form of severe heartburn called NERD (non-erosive esophageal reflux disease) can also occur due to a weakened esophageal sphincter. With NERD, the esophageal lining is not damaged, whereas with GERD it will erode over time.
Some doctors believe that NERD is simply an early stage of GERD.
The Stages of GERD
There are actually a few different stages of GERD. The severity of your symptoms will determine which stage of GERD you are currently experiencing.
The stages of GERD include:
- Stage One: mild GERD, symptoms occur less than once a week
- Stage Two: moderate GERD, symptoms occur a few times a week
- Stage Three: severe GERD, symptoms occur daily
- Stage Four: daily GERD symptoms with severe complications
Leaving GERD untreated can cause serious damage to your esophagus. In fact, it can even advance to more damaging diseases such as:
- Ulcers in the esophagus lining
- Esophageal strictures, which narrow the esophagus pipe
- Barret’s esophagus, usually a precursor to esophageal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
Common GERD Symptoms
Heartburn is by far the most common symptom of GERD. This is usually a burning sensation that occurs in the chest after eating or when laying down.
However, there are many other symptoms of GERD that are commonly found amongst adults. These include:
- Regurgitation of food or bile
- A sour or bitter taste in the mouth, even when not eating
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Throat clearing
- The feeling of a lump in the throat
- Bad breath
- Frequent cavities or erosion of tooth enamel
In some cases, the acid may even linger in your throat and find its way into your lungs. This can cause symptoms that are very similar to certain lung diseases. If you inhale too much acid over time, it can cause damage to the lungs.
Food impaction may also occur. This happens when difficulty swallowing causes food to remain stuck in the food pipe. This can be a serious complication.
How to Cure GERD
GERD is a chronic condition. This means there is no cure, and it will last throughout your life. This does not mean, however, that there is no hope.
In fact, there are plenty of treatment options for dealing with GERD. One of the most effective is by following the GERD diet.
Avoiding overconsumption of alcohol, caffeine, and fatty foods is the best way to prevent GERD symptoms from occurring. You can also eat more foods that fight GERD, such as ginger, watermelon, and chicken breast.
Common foods you should avoid include:
- Fast food
- Tomatoes or tomato-based foods
- Fried foods
- Dairy or milk
- Citrus fruits
- Onions or garlic
- Carbonated beverages
For some people, the foods that trigger acid reflux may be different than others. Talk to your doctor to determine which diet will be most appropriate for your specific case.
Other lifestyle changes you can try to prevent symptoms of GERD include:
- Eating smaller meals
- Not eating within 3 hours before bedtime
- Staying upright for at least 30 minutes after eating
- Propping yourself up in bed or while laying down
- Drinking more water
- Losing weight
Exercise is a great way to lose weight and alleviate long-term GERD symptoms. However, please note that you should wait a few hours after eating to work out. This gives your stomach time to settle so GERD symptoms are not activated during your workout.
For some more severe cases of GERD, there are medical interventions you can try. Anti-GERD supplements may help reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. Supplements can also help to alleviate heartburn pain.
You can also try other medications such as:
- Prescription or over-the-counter H-2 receptor blockers
- Prescription or over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors
- Prescription baclofen
In some cases, you can also have surgery to tighten the esophageal sphincter muscle. This surgery is usually only done in severe cases where other methods of treatment have not been successful.
For most people, serious complications of GERD are rare. It is generally not a life-threatening condition if you make the proper lifestyle changes. Follow your treatment plan and you can get your life back on track in no time.
Heartburn Relief Comes Fast
Now that you know more about GERD, you can focus on treating your symptoms and finding peace once again. With the proper management, GERD doesn’t have to stand in the way of you living your life to the fullest.
Contact us to learn more about all-natural GERD treatment supplements. Our team works hard each day to make heartburn a thing of the past. Talk to our team to find out how.