What Is GERD Reflux – Relieving Heartburn
Q: Hi, I am 17 and a female. I just went to the hospital today. I have GERD. So in a easier explanation what is it?
GERD is a short form of Gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s popularly described as heartburn. It is a situation in which some part of the stomach content back flows to enter the esophagus.
Since the stomach contents are acidic, they irritate the mucosal lining of the esophagus to give symptoms.
Why Does GERD Occur?
Food travels through the esophagus (food pipe) and enters the stomach. The opening at the stomach is guarded by a sphincter (door). This is a muscular structure and is supposed to be very tight when close, not permitting any back flow.
Sometimes this sphincter does not close properly. So, the stomach contents may flow back into the esophagus. This is gerd. Contents of the stomach are acidic. Acid is produced from stomach walls to break down food molecules and help in digestion. This acidic food leads to symptoms of GERD.
You may experience a burning sensation in the throat or chest area. As understandable, it is more on lying down.
Why Does the Sphincter Not Close Properly?
- Any nerve problem – nerves supplying the sphincter are damaged.
- Obesity – Leading to fat deposition around the opening.
- Some problem with the muscles comprising the sphincter.
Antacids are given for symptomatic relief.
Self-help Steps to Avoid GERD
- Avoid alcohol and spicy, fatty or acidic foods. They aggravate the symptoms.
- Prepone your dinner at least 2 hours before bed time. Eating too close to bedtime is likely to give more symptoms.
- Lose weight if required.
- Stay upright for at least an hour after meals.
- Staying active physically can be helpful.