Livewell: Health Insurance & Wellness Blogs | Max Bupa
LOOKING TO BINGE IN THE WEDDING SEASON? JUST BE CAREFUL OF GERD
WHAT IS GERD?
We all know that we have acids in our stomach to digest food. Usually, our stomach has a door or a muscle called the LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter. This remains closed and only opens when you swallow food. The problem starts when this door is left opened even when we are not swallowing food. This leads to stomach acid reaching your esophagus lining and irritates your digestion. This regular reflux action is known as GERD.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
The main cause of acid reflux is the abnormal relaxation of the LES, which allows for acid to escape the stomach. This can be aggravated by certain factors:
- Binge eating or indulging in large meals
- Eating at odd hours or before bedtime
- Trigger foods such as junk or fried food
- Alcohol and caffeine are known to increase acidic levels
- Certain medications like Aspirin can worsen the condition
- Obese people are known to have GERD
- Pregnancy can lead to GERD as there are hormonal changes and more pressure on the abdomen area
GERD IS NOT JUST AN ADULT THING
Yes, Kids too suffer from a condition called pediatric GERD. In fact, 35% of the 4 million babies born in the US every year, suffer from acid refluxes during their first few months. As compared to adults their symptoms are more complicated. Here are some of the symptoms:
- Not gaining any weight
- Frequent vomiting
- Pain while eating
- Breathing difficulties while eating
WHAT CAUSES GERD IN KIDS?
There might be various complications, which cause pediatric GERD. Some of the leading causes are
- The length of the esophagus
- The angle of the esophageal region
- Weak or underdeveloped LES muscles
- Insensitivity to certain foods
TREATMENT OF GERD
Be it, kids or adults, just a few eating and lifestyle changes are good enough to rectify GERD. Here are some of them:
- Reduce the portion of your meals
- Shed some weight
- Avoid spicy, fried and acidic food, which can irk your tummy
- Don’t eat before bedtime
- Quit habits like tobacco and alcohol as they are worsening your condition
- Stay away from carbonated beverages like sodas and colas
- Keep your head elevated while sleeping
WHAT ABOUT MEDICATIONS?
Doctors might prescribe you or your child certain medications like
- Histamine-2 blockers like Zantac
- Acid blockers such as Nexium or Prilosec
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF GERD?
The good news is that GERD is not life-threatening but it can cause several complications:
This condition is marked by the narrowing of the esophagus, which happens due to damage from stomach acid, which scars up the tissue in the region. This may interfere in swallowing of the food in the long term.
When the scar tissue is left untreated in the long term it develops into an open sore in the esophagus, which causes further bleeding and pain while swallowing food.
This is a condition, which is a precursor to cancer in which the lining of the esophagus undergoes a transition into the lining of the intestines. Though this might reduce heartburn, it increases your chances of esophageal cancer
If all the other complications are left untreated, it can create Esophageal cancer in the long run. Therefore, it is best to treat GERD at the earliest.