There are various factors that can bring about the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease. One of the most common reasons is an overactive immune response. Here, the immune system overreacts to certain bodily irritants in the esophagus. This happens when the immune system detects the presence of foreign bodies in the esophagus. Once detection is made, the immune system mistakes the foreign body as a possible cause of infection, thus prompting an attack.
- Asthma: When a person suffers from persistent coughing in asthmatic attacks, the coughing can cause changes in pressure in the chest, triggering a reflux. On the other hand, some researchers are of the opinion that GERD causes asthma. In any case, what is important is that there is an established correlation between asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Taking drugs, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also increase the risk or the symptoms of GERD in people who already have it. Common specimens of such drugs are aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
- The most common symptom is heartburn. This is due to the passage of acidic substances up the esophagus that causes pain in its transit.
- A person with a severe case of GERD may experience dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing. This is due to the narrowing of the portion of the esophagus nearest the stomach. On the other hand, aside from difficulty in swallowing, a person may also experience pain when swallowing. This condition is known as odynophagia.
- There is an excessive salivation. This happens as the body’s natural reaction to heartburn. Because heartburn is acidic and saliva is slightly basic, the body produces saliva during episodes of heartburn to counter the effect of heartburn.
- Aside from heartburn, a person with GERD also experiences chest pain that is persistent.
- In some cases of patients of GERD, persistent cough is also common.
- In cases of infants and children, signs of GERD are more difficult to detect because of the inability of children to discriminate their feelings. In some cases, children may experience an episode known as silent reflux. In this case, acidic substance travels up the esophagus but the child does not vomit at all. As a result, the acidic substance goes down into the stomach again, which causes twice the damage and pain.
How to Prevent GERD?
Because of the multitude of reasons that can cause GERD, finding a single approach to preventing the disease is a difficult task. Nonetheless, because some causes are possible to pinpoint, prevention takes the course of knowing first the causes and then acting on it.
- Refrain from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These types of drugs are known to act against the mucosal lining of the stomach, progressively eroding it. As a result, the mucosal lining becomes thin, causing secretion of acidic substances. When there is a need to relieve body pain, take topical applications such as ointments instead. Or if it is available, try taking herbal pain killers.
- Asthma is another cause for having GERD. When a person suffers from the disorder, it will be good to seek immediate relief. In particular, coughing episodes in asthma can progressively erode the linings of the esophagus. Because of this, it is very important to find an immediate relief from coughing lest it can cause GERD.
- Limit the intake of spicy foods as well as those that can trigger heartburn. Examples of such foods are chocolate, garlic, onion, and foods rich in caffeine.
- Because Gastroesophageal reflux disease involves the release of acidic substances from the stomach, it is important to avoid eating foods that are spicy. Such foods can cause acidic reactions in the stomach that may worsen the symptoms in a person. Moreover, spicy foods can also cause heartburn that worsens the symptoms of a person with GERD. As such, it will be for the better to minimize the intake of such foods.
- Another home remedy a patient of GERD may try is to avoid wearing tight fitting clothes. This will allow a little more room for the stomach, avoiding a cramped environment where there is a chance that acidic secretion can be triggered. Moreover, losing a few pounds will also help as it reduces the pressure exerted on the stomach.
Other home remedies
- After taking a meal, do not lie down immediately. Allow yourself at least three hours to digest the food you’ve taken before going down to bed.
- When sleeping, elevate the bed from the waist area up. This will give you the benefit of gravity working for you. That way, acidic substances will find it more difficult to travel up the esophagus compared when lying completely flat.
Food and Diet for GERD?
The following are the diet considerations for those who are suffering from GERD:
- Avoid eating from fast-food chains. This is because foods from fast-food chains are very rich in fats. Fatty foods stay a lot longer in the stomach and require a higher amount of acids to digest them. As a result of high acid level, there is the possibility that the stomach will suffer from the actions of digestive juices.
- Avoid over-eating. The best thing that one can do for him/herself is to cut down on getting huge servings. For example, instead of eating one big meal, it will be better to instead cut the single meal into several smaller portions. The small portion will allow the stomach an easier digestion.
- Make sure to observe proper spacing in between meals. This is to allow the stomach enough rest in between digesting food intake. Moreover, it will also allow for the reduction of acid in the stomach that may be kept high when there is a regular intake of food at short intervals.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks such as soft drinks. These foods are known for increasing the acidity level in the stomach and contribute to the symptoms of GERD.