The muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) located between the esophagus and stomach normally opens after swallowing. This allows food to pass into the stomach. This lower esophageal sphincter muscle then closes quickly to prevent the return (reflux) of food and stomach juices back into the esophagus.
When the lower esophageal sphincter muscle either relaxes inappropriately or is very weak, the acid contents of the stomach can back up, or reflux, into the esophagus. This is called gastro-esophageal
reflux, also known as acid reflux.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of GERD?
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn.
- Heartburn usually begins as a burning pain that starts behind the breastbone and radiates upward to the neck.
Another typical symptom is reflux, a sensation of food coming back into the mouth, accompanied by an acid or bitter taste.
Other symptoms may include a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, heart-like chest pain and a feeling of a lump in the throat.
When the acid content from the stomach regularly flows back into the esophagus, chronic GERD can occur
Treatment of GERD is long-term. The goals are to control or reduce symptoms, heal an injured esophagus, and manage or prevent complications.Treatment options include lifestyle changes, medicines, surgery, or a combination of approaches.
- Avoid food, beverages and medicines that affect the lower esophageal sphincter muscle action or irritate the lining of the esophagus, such as:
- Fried or fatty foods.
- Coffee (decaf too)
- Carbonated beverages
- Ketchup and mustard
- Tomato sauce
- Citrus fruits or juices
- Aspirin, anti-inflammatory and pain medications other than acetaminophen.
- Decrease the size of portions at mealtimes. Don’t overeat!
- Eat meals two to three hours before lying down.
- Elevate the head of the bed four to six inches using blocks or telephone books.
- If you are overweight, lose weight.
- Avoid situations that can increase the pressure on the abdomen, as they will cause more reflux. Try simple things like avoiding tight clothing or control top hosiery and body shapers. Less obvious causes include sit-ups, leg-lifts or abdominal crunches.
- Stop smoking, as cigarettes decrease the ability of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to work properly.
Consult a doctor for your treatment plan and options.