The burning sensation of heartburn is what happens when the acids from your stomach escape into your esophagus. When this happens two or more times a week, doctors diagnose it as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Many different factors can cause GERD, and its symptoms. Besides heartburn, GERD symptoms can include gas, bloating, nausea, and regurgitation of digestive fluid. GERD occurs when the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus becomes weak and allows gastric acid to escape. Left untreated, it can cause ulcers or serious complications like Barrett’s esophagus or even esophageal cancer.
GERD can be treated with over the counter antacids, or medications that help reduce acid for longer periods of time. You doctor may prescribe one, or direct you to take one that is available without a prescription.
You can also help control GERD by avoiding the foods and drinks that can trigger it. Not all people are triggered by the same foods, so, keeping track of the foods that cause your heartburn may help. Some common triggers include:
- Fatty foods, such as fried foods and whole fat cheeses
- Spicy foods like hot sauce and chili
- Acidic foods, like tomatoes and pickles
- Alcoholic beverages
- Carbonated beverages such as sodas
- Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea
Changes to your lifestyle can also help reduce symptoms. Smoking causes the esophageal sphincter, the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, to weaken. Wearing tight clothing can cause pressure that can exacerbate GERD. Many people find that when they lose weight, they find relief from GERD symptoms.
If you experience any of the symptoms of GERD on a regular basis, talk to a doctor here in the Dallas area about the right treatment for you.