October 20, 2010

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)

If you have heartburn more than twice a week, you may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD.? The chronic heartburn condition is caused when the lower esophageal sphincter malfunctions.? When operating normally, the sphincter only allows food and liquids to flow one direction – into the stomach.? GERD occurs when stomach acid is allowed to flow the opposite way, and up into the lower esophagus. ?This results in pain and irritation of the esophagus.

What causes GERD?

GERD has several causes ranging from health and hormonal abnormalities, to daily habits.

What are the symptoms?

GERD presents with a few symptoms.? They include:

These symptoms can be exacerbated if you lay down to soon after eating, eat a large meal, or even bend down to lift something heavy.

What can you do?

If you have GERD, there are many options for treatment.? If you’re a smoker, quit.? If you’re overweight, loose a few pounds.? You should also use caution with medicines known to aggravate GERD.

Even a change in diet can have a profound effect.? Try keeping a food journal and track what foods set off your heartburn, then avoid them.? Also, wait 2 to 3 hours after eating to go to bed, and eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid pressure build up in the stomach.

Over the counter antacids or prescription medications can also be helpful.

If all else fails, your doctor may recommend surgery.? The procedure involves attaching the stomach around the lower esophagus, tightening the muscles there and blocking acid from making its way up.? However, this is generally a last resort.

For more on this condition and coping with its symptoms without surgery, read our Reflux Remedy Report.

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