Dreading heavy meals or spicy foods because your body can’t handle the aftermath? With GERD Awareness Week round the corner, here’s some insight to help you understand your gastric discomfort more and how you can better manage it.
What is GERD?
We know the esophagus as the tube in our body that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly. This lets stomach contents to leak back or reflux into the esophagus and cause irritation.
“Gastroesophageal” refers to the stomach and the esophagus, and GERD is unfortunately a very common disorder. While there is not known single cause of GERD, it occurs when the esophageal defenses are overwhelmed by stomach contents that reflux into the esophagus.
What you feel as a result of this is the burning sensation in your chest or throat known as heartburn. You may sometimes taste stomach fluid in the back of the mouth. If you have these symptoms more than twice a week, you may have GERD. But you can also have GERD without having heartburn, and it’s important to watch out for other symptoms.
Did you know that heartburn is not the only symptom of GERD?
Chronic heartburn is the most common symptom, but not the only one of GERD. There are numerous less common symptoms that may be associated with GERD including:
- Acid regurgitation (refluxed material into the mouth)
- Pain when swallowing
- Waterbrash (sudden excess of saliva)
- Dysphagia (the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus)
- Chronic sore throat
- Inflammation of the gums
- Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
- Hoarseness in the morning
- Bad breath and sour taste in the mouth
How do I know if it’s simple heartburn or GERD?
Nearly everyone has heartburn now and then. But if you experience the following, it may be time to see a doctor in case of potential GERD:
- Your heartburn happens twice or more during the week
- Your heartburn happens at night and wakes you from sleep
- You’ve experienced heartburn for several years now
- You have difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Your discomfort or pain interferes with your daily activities
Can it affect my sleeping patterns?
It does appear that GERD and sleep have a two way relationship. GERD has been shown to affect sleep by awakening people during the night. Those with GERD, experience many short arousals that they are unable to recollect, ultimately resulting in sleep fragmentation. Poor quality of sleep has been recently added to the growing list of symptoms such as hoarseness, sore throat, wheezing, and chronic cough. Most importantly, the overall quality of life of those with night time heartburn appears to be significantly worse than those with daytime heartburn only.
How can I treat it?
GERD is a recurrent disease for which long-term medical treatment is usually effective. While there is not yet a cure for GERD, treatment options such as lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, or a combination of these methods, are necessary.
GERD affects infants and children too. If not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems in the future. Here are some measures you can take on a daily basis:
- Avoid alcohol and spicy, fatty or acidic foods that trigger heartburn
- Eat smaller meals
- Do not eat close to bedtime
- Lose weight if needed
- Wear loose-fitting clothes
GERD Awareness Week at Euromed
Our Dubai’s premier family clinic – Euromed Clinic Center – celebrates the 17th Annual GERD Awareness Week between November 20th and 26th, 2016.
With the guidance of Dr. Zafar Quader, one of the best gastroenterologists in Dubai, Euromed joins hands with you to jointly raise awareness for GERD in the UAE. A combined effort towards awareness can impact positive outcomes such as additional research, educational opportunities, and improved patient care for those suffering from this chronic disease.
Book an appointment with Dr. Zafar to experience relief from troublesome symptoms and be well informed!