All You Need To Know About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD
Do you sometimes feel a burning sensation in your chest, find it difficult to breath and think that you are having a heart attack? Well, fortunately that’s not what’s happening to you.
But you might still be suffering from something which is linked to heart diseases - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a disease related to your digestive system. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is the condition when the stomach acid or bile (which usually helps digest the food) starts flowing towards the food pipe or esophagus. This can cause much discomfort.
One is usually diagnosed with GERD when this flow of stomach acid starts hampering your daily activities on a regular basis.
Dr Ashwini Setya, a Gastroenterologist and Programme Director in Delhi’s Max Super Speciality Hospital, explains:
The stomach acid can cause severe harm to the food pipe.
Symptoms of GERD
GERD can be deadly in some cases. The acid can reach the food pipe and damage it. There can also be a probability of the patient developing ulcers or even, cancer.
Dr Ashwini Setya says the patient suffering from GERD might show the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Stomach ache
- Sour burps leaving a bad taste in the mouth
- Cough & throat pain
- Swelling in the stomach
Dr Setya says that many of the symptoms of patients suffering from GERD are similar to that of patients suffering from heart diseases which is why it’s important to take this condition seriously.
GERD symptoms are less during the day since we mostly are standing or walking. But the symptoms begin to escalate during the night as we lie down. One might also feel choked due to it. At times, the acid might also enter the wind-pipe causing severe burning sensation. This might also make you cough which isn’t a good sign.
Causes of GERD
Urban population is more prone to this disease.
Dr Setya says that the following are some of the causes of GERD:
- Poor diet
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Lack of physical activity post dinner
In certain cases, pregnancy might also be a cause of GERD.
Ritika Samaddar, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Healthcare, says:
Dr Setya feels that the first step towards trying to treat this disease is to change one’s lifestyle. Medication can then be prescribed if the issue still persists. Though the symptoms might re-occur if medication is stopped. Exercise can also help in such cases.
In extreme cases, the doctor might also opt for surgery.
We usually ask GERD patients to maintain a diary and make a note of all things they feel will cause GERD. It could be fried food, high-fat food or foods rich in caffeine or chocolate. Alcohol could also be one of the things. We treat them as per this list as they are asked to control these items from their daily diet.Dr Ashwini Setya
Dr Setya says that keeping a check on one’s lifestyle can save them from many diseases.
(Have you subscribed to FIT’s newsletter yet? Click here and get health updates directly in your inbox.)
(FIT is now available on Telegram. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe us on Telegram)