Severe Symptoms Can Cause Damage
Ignoring persistent symptoms of GERD can damage the esophagus, since the constant backwash of acid irritates the lining and can cause scar tissue to form over time. That scar sometimes is helpful, tightening up the area so material doesnt come up that easily, but its at the expense of the esophagus not working right, limiting the food thats going down, Ergun says. A normal esophagus is 20 millimeters in diameter, Ergun says, and when it gets to about half its typical diameter, people start to notice food something like bread or meat getting stuck.
GERD can also affect tissue that lines the lower esophagus. Instead of the cells of the esophagus being consistent with the cells of the stomach, they change a condition known as Barretts esophagus, says Nipaporn Pichetshote, M.D., a gastroenterology specialist in Los Angeles affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Thats concerning because there is a risk for progression into esophageal cancer. Though she says the likelihood of this is quite low, it becomes something to watch in people who have reflux disease for 10 years.
Another concern: Acid reflux and cardiac problems can sometimes mimic each other. People will say, Oh, I have indigestion and assume its the esophagus, when it could be the heart, or vice-versa, Ergun says. If youre experiencing chest pain, address it with your doctor to make sure it isnt something other than acid reflux.
How To Stop Chronic Heartburnstat
Small steps can help keep you pain-free, no matter how much pizza you eat.
Its a night-out buzzkill akin to your team losing big. You go out for a great meal, have a few beers, and are feeling good, until, suddenly you arent. Youve got heartburn with its tell-tale burning sensation that spreads up through the chest, then into the back of your throat. Often, heartburn can be super painful. And if it happens regularly, it can negatively impact your life, including how you sleep. Frequent heartburn is when you experience symptoms two or more times a week, says Clenton Coleman, MD, chief of internal medicine at Holy Name Hospital in New Jersey. Not only is that uncomfortable, it can be stress-inducing, which in turn can also exacerbate symptoms.
So whats actually going on? When you swallow food, it goes through the esophagus to something called your lower esophageal sphincter, says David Chua, MD, a gastroenterologist withSummit Digestive in the Chicago area. That opens up to let food into your stomach, then closes back up while your stomach is digesting, he explains. But if the sphincter isnt working right and opens up when its not supposed to, the contents of your stomach can come back up, which can cause symptoms. Adds Dr. Coleman, You have a higher risk for it if youre overweight or obese, have lots of stress, have poor sleep, or tend to overeat.
Prevent Coffee Heartburn By Getting A Safe Amount Of Caffeine
A big player in the cause of acid reflux is overcaffeination. When your caffeine intake is too high, the muscle that connects the stomach to the esophagus is relaxed.1 When this happens, an opening is created for stomach acid to come up into your esophagus, which causes acid reflux. Ew! Thats pretty gross.
So how do we make sure we have a safe amount of caffeine? Most experts agree 600mg per day is overcaffeination.2 For some such as pregnant mothers, its advised to be 200mg .3 According to Health Canada the federal health department in Canada 400mg is a safe daily caffeine consumption rate.4
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Diet And Lifestyle Is The Key To Ditching Heartburn
How do you start healing? The good news is that diet and lifestyle can make a big impact on relieving acid reflux and heartburn. Cutting out the foods most likely to trigger or aggravate acid reflux can give your stomach a chance to heal.
Here are the top 10 foods to avoid so you dont trigger heartburn and acid reflux:
Is It Heartburn Or Gerd
If youve never had heartburn, youre one of the lucky few. In fact, the American College of Gastroenterology estimates that nearly 60 million Americans experience heartburn each month. But how can you know the difference between eating a meal that was a little too spicy and having a chronic condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD?
Many patients think of heartburn, acid reflux and GERD as all the same thing, but that isnt the case, explains William Hackworth, M.D., a gastroenterologist with Riverside Health System. Understanding and tracking your symptoms for example, if a certain food triggers heartburn is a great first step. These details will guide your conversation and help your doctor better treat your condition.
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Can You Have Gerd Without Heartburn
While nearly half of American adults have occasional heartburn, only about one in five develops persistent heartburn, regurgitation or other symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Still, GERD is the most common upper gastrointestinal disease in the Western world, according to a 2012 review in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Although heartburn and regurgitation are the most common symptoms of GERD, a significant number of people with GERD do not experience such symptoms.
Acidic Drinks Or Foods
Acidic foods and drinks can worsen your GERD symptoms or contribute to an acid reflux episode. In addition to some foods discussed above, like coffee, this includes foods such as:
- Citrus fruit, such as oranges and grapefruit
- Citrus juice, such as orange juice and lemon or lime juice
- Garlic, onions, and other alliums
- Mint and mint-flavored foods and drinks
- Tomatoes and tomato products, such as tomato sauce or ketchup
- Processed foods.
Even foods that are traditionally considered healthy, such as pineapple, can aggravate acid reflux events because of their acidity. Foods that are naturally high in acid can affect the overall acidity of your stomach and heighten your GERD symptoms. Eat acidic foods only in moderation, if at all, and pay careful attention to how you feel after doing so.
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Lose Weight If You Need To
If you need to shed pounds, you’ll see improvements in GERD if you lose just 10 to 15 pounds. Talk to your doctor to figure out a plan to drop no more than about 1 to 2 pounds each week.
Causes Of Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it’s caused or made worse by:
- certain food and drink such as coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
- being overweight
- some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers
- a hiatus hernia when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
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Antacids Are Perpetuating Acid Reflux And Causing Even More Health Issues
Studies show that acid blockers reduce healthy bacteria in your gut and increase incidences of infection.8 One reason is because reducing the amount of acid in our stomachs with antacids helps unwanted bacteria survive transport through the stomach and get into the small intestines, creating conditions known as SIBO or SIFO.
In turn, this aggravates the gas, bloating, and heartburn you were trying to avoid in the first place! 9
And thats not all! Lowering stomach acids can also lead to other serious health conditions, such as vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and more.10,11
The truth is that a majority of people taking medication to reduce stomach acids shouldnt be, and they can benefit from safer options.12
Surgical Treatments For Gerd And Acid Reflux
With advances in robotic and laparoscopic surgery, treating GERD is easier than ever. At The Surgical Clinic, we offer several types of surgical procedures to strengthen the weakened LES and other causes of GERD.
One of our providers, Dr. Trudie Goers, is board-certified in general surgery and specializes in minimally invasive gastrointestinal repair. If you need treatment for GERD or acid reflux, Dr. Goers would be happy to meet with you.
To learn more about GERD, acid reflux treatment, GERD surgery, and acid reflux surgery in Nashville, visit the Virtual GERD Center here on our website.
You dont have to live with acid reflux forever. The providers at The Surgical Clinics of Middle Tennessee are here to help you get the care that you need. Visit one of our many locations across the Greater Nashville Area, including Mt Juliet, Downtown, Franklin, Cool Springs, Hermitage, as well as Columbia, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, and Smyrna.
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Spasm Of The Esophagus
The esophagus is the muscular tube that passes behind the heart, and carries food, liquid, and saliva from the mouth to the stomach. In a condition called diffuse esophageal spasm , the tube contracts uncontrollably, causing trouble swallowing and chest pain.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: dry cough, deep chest pain, behind the breast bone, heartburn, trouble swallowing, burning chest pain
Symptoms that never occur with spasm of the esophagus: shortness of breath
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Cooking Tips To Prevent Heartburn And Indigestion
If you suffer from heartburn, you can use different cooking approaches, which may help to alleviate stomach problems including acid reflux.
- Try cooking with as little fat as possible.
- Skip deep frying and pan frying.
- If youre going to sauté, use non-stick sprays as opposed to butter.
- Broiling, steaming, boiling, grilling and roasting are healthier ways to cook meats and veggies because they dont require high levels of fat.
- To get flavor into your food, use heartburn friendly spices as well as broths and low-acid juices instead of oils, which are high in fat.
In addition to eating heartburn-friendly foods and cooking with less fat, it is important to remember that eating large meals and eating before going to bed are likely to increase heartburn. Be sure to pay attention to portion control and timing of meals to avoid indigestion.
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How Do Antacids Work To Treat Heartburn
Antacids reduce the amount of stomach acid, relieving your heartburn. These medications can also be used to soothe stomach upset, indigestion and other pains in your stomach. Some antacids contain simethicone, which reduces gas. Antacids that you can get without a prescription include:
Make sure you always follow the instructions on the package or talk to your doctor about the right way to use an antacid. If you use tablets, chew them well before swallowing for faster relief.
Heartburn And Acidic Throat
As gastric acid from your stomach moves up your esophagus, it may create a burning feeling in your chest and throat. Stomach acid can also leave a nasty taste in your mouth this may be sour, salty, hot or acidic. This acid irritation can lead to a sore throat and a dry cough. It can also cause a painless lump in your throat.
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How To Manage Symptoms
If you already have acid reflux, theres much you can do to minimize symptoms and perhaps avoid them entirely. Instead of consuming large meals, eat smaller ones more often. Minimize fatty foods and skip fried and fast foods entirely. A friend uses an air fryer to achieve a crispy skin on chicken, but I prefer grilled chicken and skip the skin. Choose lean meats and low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and avoid eating within three hours of bedtime. Also, try sleeping as if on a recliner, with the head of the bed propped higher than the foot.
Foods that many people with GERD find most irritating include tomatoes and citrus and their juices, coffee , alcoholic and carbonated beverages, spicy foods, garlic, chocolate and peppermint. I long ago switched to low-acid orange juice, consuming only a few ounces a day to dissolve a fiber supplement. Ive also found instant coffee to be less irritating than brewed, and drink the latter only with food to help protect my digestive tract.
To counter an occasional unexpected attack of heartburn, many people use a quick-acting antacid like Tums to help neutralize stomach acid. A more modern remedy, an H2 receptor blocker like Pepcid , can relieve symptoms within about 20 minutes by blocking the histamine receptors in the stomach that trigger acid production.
Heartburn And Chest Pain
Wondering what does heartburn feel like? Normally, heartburn can result in an uncomfortable sensation or pain in your chest behind the breastbone. Some sufferers experience it as a tightening feeling in the chest, while others describe it as a sharp pain. It may also radiate up towards the throat.3 This pain can last a matter of minutes to several hours4and may get worse at night or when you lie down.3
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What Kinds Of Complications Are Caused By Frequent Heartburn
- Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing .
- Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
- Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage . A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
- If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.
Tweak Your Bedtime Routine
Don’t eat before bedtime. Try not to snack or dine at least 2 to 3 hours before you go to sleep. When you lie down, gravity pulls whatever’s in your stomach toward your esophagus — the tube that connects your throat and stomach. By eating earlier, there’s less food in there to come back up and bring on GERD symptoms.
Prop up the head of your bed 6 to 10 inches. You can keep heartburn and other GERD symptoms away if you put your head and chest above your stomach. It helps gravity keep what’s in your stomach away from your esophagus.
Don’t prop your back up with pillows, though, since that may bend your body in a way that puts pressure on your stomach. Instead, use a foam wedge under your mattress, or put blocks of wood under the top legs of the bed.
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What Does Heartburn Feel Like When Pregnant
Suffering heartburn in pregnancy is common, and is the result of a whole host of changes your body is going through. Just one of these is the increase of the hormone progesterone, which causes the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to relax, sending gastric acid up the esophagus and causing the tell-tale burning sensation.3 If you havent had heartburn before, be reassured that it is common.3 To help reduce the risk of heartburn and ease symptoms, eat small meals, avoid fatty or greasy foods, and wait at least three hours after eating before lying down.3 Always talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you before using TUMS.
What Foods And Drinks Cause Heartburn
- Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.
- Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.
- Additional foods that make heartburn worse.
Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events. Print this and take this with you to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss possible causes of heartburn you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.
Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.
Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant .
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