Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is that irritating acid that can build in the stomach and esophagus. Many of us experience this from time to time, but chronic heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, feeling like there is a lump in the throat, and even regurgitation, can become a persistent hinderance to one’s life. There is a lingering cough and even sleep can be disrupted. So what causes this to occur in those unlucky individuals??
When we swallow, there is muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) that surrounds the esophagus and relaxes so that food and liquid can enter the stomach. Then the sphincter closes back up. If this relaxing action takes place abnormally, stomach acid will flow back up into the esophagus. This causes inflammation.
There are certain lifestyle habits than can increase the risk for GERD. These include smoking, eating really large meals late at night, eating fat-filled or fried foods, drinking alcohol or coffee, and even aspirin is a medication that can cause this. Obesity and pregnancy also increase risk.
The inflammation that GERD causes can be detrimental. The esophagus starts to narrow (esophageal stricture) because stomach acid causes the formation of scar tissue. The scar tissue essentially narrows the food pathway and swallowing becomes a problem. Esophageal ulcers can also occur. The stomach acid wears away at tissue which can cause an open sore to form. This sore can bleed which is not only painful, but again, makes swallowing difficult. Esophageal (Barrett’s esophagus) cancer is also possible since the tissue of the esophagus has changed.
Physical examination by a doctor should be done to diagnosis GERD. An endoscopy takes place where a doctor inserts a flexible tube into the throat with a camera and light that can look at the esophagus and stomach. This examine can detect the inflammation. An ambulatory (pH) probe test can be done. This is where a monitor is placed in the esophagus to determine patterns of the stomach acid. An esophageal manometry test measures the muscle contractions in the esophagus. An X ray of the digestive system can also be done. The person drinks a chalky liquid that lines the digestive tract. The doctor can then see a silhouette of the esophagus.
Acid reflux can be healed or alleviated naturally without the use of medications. Some things to incorporate in your diet would be to start drinking diluted apple cider vinegar, add fennel seeds to your diet, drink aloe vera before eating, drink ginger or peppermint tea, eat smaller portions, eat more bananas, papaya, and apples, and drink apple juice mixed with kudzu. Things to avoid include eating citrus, drinking carbonated beverages, and going to bed on a full stomach. These lifestyle changes can be made prior to over the counter medications or prescriptions to first try to eliminate what could be the possible cause of the problem in the first place.
Acid is toxic to the environment, so we certainly don’t want it in our body. Take care of your health before it speaks to you and let’s you know it is not happy with certain lifestyle choices that might be taking place.