WHAT IS GERD?
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a chronic acid reflux condition which means acid containing contents of stomach continuously leaks back into your oesophagus(food pipe).
Acid reflux happens because the valve at the end of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter), doesn’t close properly when food arrives at the stomach and intra abdominal pressure increases. Acidic food then flows back up through your esophagus into your throat and mouth, giving you a belching.
Anyone at any age can develop GERD, but some may be at more risk for it. Your chances of having GERD increase if:
- Age: you are of age more than 40.
- Weight: you are overweight or obese.
- You are pregnant
- If you smoke or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Taking certain medications that may cause acid reflux.
Some of the common complications of GERD are:
- Barrett’s oesophagus
- Esophageal stricture
- Gastric volvulus
SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
Major complications are heartburn and regurgitation, which is triggered mostly by bending, straining or lying down.
Waterbrash: Increased salivation when acid enters food pipe.
A few patients presents with severe chest pain that can mimic angina and is due to reflux induced esophageal spasm.
Some causes may include :
- Abnormalities of lower esophageal sphincter: Some people with GERD have reduced sphincter tone or inappropriate sphincter relaxation.
- Hiatus hernia(herniation of the stomach through diaphragm into the chest).
- Delayed esophageal clearance: leads to increased acid exposure time.
- Gastric contents: Acidic gastric contents leads to esophageal irritation thus causing GERD.
- Defective gastric emptying:
- Increased intraabdominal pressure
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Diagnosis is made primarily on the basis of presenting symptoms.
Endoscopy is sometimes performed to rule out other upper gastroesophageal diseases that mimics GERD and to identify any complications, if present.
A 24hr pH monitoring is advised if the diagnosis is still not clear.
Conventional treatment includes use of temporary acting antacids or proton pump inhibitors but recurrence of symptoms with more severity is one of the most common side effects when therapy is stopped. Anti reflux surgery is also advised in many cases which has its own set of complications like alleviated heartburn and regurgitation, inability to vomit and abdominal bloating.
Some lifestyle changes are advised like weight loss, avoiding food items that aggravates pt’s present symptoms, elevation of bed head(if you suffer from night time acid reflux), avoiding late meals and smoking etc.
Homoeopathic treatment aims at curing this disease in the most harmless and permanent way. Many symptomatic as well as constitutional medicines can be prescribed to patients depending upon their condition. Some of the useful medicines in cases of GERD are: lycopodium, iodum, anacardium, gambogia, china Etc. It is advised that the above mentioned medicines should only be taken under the guidance of a registered medical practitioner.
DO’S AND DON’TS
- Do watch your weight.
- Try meditation to manage stress.
- Eat light and healthy food.
- You may try eating six smaller meals each day instead of three larger ones.
- Don’t eat spicy, acidic, fatty or caffeinated drinks.
- Avoid having heavy food or snacks right before bedtime.
- Avoid smoking.
- Don’t overeat or eat too quickly.
- Avoid undue stress.