Good food just makes us want to eat a little bit more. Then, at times, we experience what we call ‘indigestion’. With a burning sensation in our chests and a feeling of nausea, we often wish we hadn’t eaten that much. But, is it only because of the food we ate? More importantly, is it indigestion, at all?
There might be something hiding behind indigestion – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD.
To have a quick brush up, and for those who haven’t read the previous article, gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition where the acid or the digestive juices in the stomach persistently and flows up into the oesophagus. The oesophagus may also be referred as the food pipe and is the tube that transports the food all the way from the mouth to the stomach. The acid which is produced in the oesophagus causes heartburn and other symptoms, and possible tissue damage if not treated at the right time.
So how is a gastroesophageal reflux disease diagnosed? Is there a treatment for GERD?
The first step to get help if you are experiencing pain or symptom that indicates a gastroesophageal reflux disease is to talk to your doctor immediately. Your doctor might recommend you some tests to confirm if you have a gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Here are some tests to diagnose GERD:
Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring: To measure the amount of acid in the oesophagus.
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscope: It involves inspecting the oesophagus by performing a biopsy with a small sample of oesophageal tissue.
Upper GI series: An X-ray that indicates certain physical abnormalities which can cause GERD.
Treating a gastroesophageal reflux disease is not a thing to worry until it turns into a chronic or a malignant condition, which is usually very rare. There are medications and treatments available to help you in case you are diagnosed with GERD.
And yes, you are on the right page if you are looking for treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Proton pump inhibitors are the most popular pharmaceutical treatment options available for people with GERD. It is essential to have a prescription from your doctor before you get onto treating yourself. Proton pump inhibitors are drugs that decrease the amount of acid the oesophagus produces in the stomach.
H2 blockers are another type of pharmaceutical options that reduce acid production in the stomach.
Antacids usually prevent the production of acid in the stomach with alkaline chemicals. However, sometimes, antacids may have side effects which include diarrhoea and constipation.
Antibiotics: Erythromycin is an antibiotic which helps the stomach empty quicker, and reduce the risk of acid production.
Preventing GERD: Some tips
Some lifestyle and behavioural changes can help relieve GERD, and prevent its symptoms to a large extent:
- Do not overeat
- Avoid foods that aggravate acidic reactions such as spicy, and oily foods
- Stop smoking
- Start a healthy weight loss regime if you are on the heavier side
- Sleeping at a slight angle with your head slightly elevated will help
Surgery for GERD
Although it is quite a rare thing to get a surgical treatment for GERD, in cases where lifestyle changes fail to improve the symptoms, there are some surgical options:
Fundoplication: The procedure involves the surgeon to sew the top of the stomach around the oesophagus adding pressure to the lower end of the oesophagus. This helps in reducing reflux.
Endoscopic procedures: Endoscopic procedures include endoscopic stitching to tighten the sphincter muscle. A radiofrequency is used to produce small burns that help in tightening the sphincter muscle resulting in reducing the reflux.
As it is very well said; “prevention is better than cure”, it is best to have a well planned and balanced diet. A healthy lifestyle with some cheat meals here and there can keep you far from falling prey to gastric and oesophageal diseases.
About Sunshine Hospitals
A multi-super speciality institution, 500+ bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man.