GERD(Acid reflux) in adults-Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, home remedy

Overview

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal reflux disease, which occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into esophagus. The esophagus is the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This backwash of stomach acid can irritate the lining of your esophagus.

Is GERD the same as acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux?

The two are not the same but closely related. GERD is a more severe form of acid reflux. If you have occasional acid reflux, lifestyle changes can help. If you think you have GERD, you need to see a doctor.

 

Symptoms

During an episode of acid reflux, you may taste regurgitated food or sour liquid at the back of your mouth or feel a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn).

The most common symptom of GERD is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen.  The burning sensation comes usually after eating, and may be worse at night. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn. Some people may also feel difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food or sour liquid, or sensation of a lump in your throat.

If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience chronic cough, laryngitis, new or worsening asthma, disrupted sleep.

 

Causes

Acid reflux and GERD happen when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, causing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes due to certain things, such as

  • increased pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant
  • certain medicines, including
    • those that doctors use to treat asthma —a long-lasting disease in your lungs that makes you extra sensitive to things that you’re allergic to
    • calcium channel blockers—medicines that treat high blood pressure 
    • antihistamines—medicines that treat allergy symptoms
    • painkillers
    • sedatives—medicines that help put you to sleep
    • antidepressants —medicines that treat depression 
  • smoking, or inhaling secondhand smoke

A hiatal hernia can also cause GERD. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the opening in your diaphragm lets the upper part of the stomach move up into your chest, which lowers the pressure in the esophageal sphincter.

 

Diagnosis

To confirm a diagnosis of GERD, or to check for complications, your doctor might recommend:

  • Upper endoscopy and biopsy. This procedure takes place at a hospital or an outpatient center. Usually patients get a sedative to stay relaxed and calm. The doctor carefully feeds the endoscope down your esophagus and into your stomach and duodenum, to perform a close examination of the lining of your upper GI tract. The doctor may perform a biopsy with the endoscope by taking a small piece of tissue from the lining of your esophagus, which you won’t feel a thing.
  • Ambulatory acid (pH) probe test. A monitor is placed in your esophagus to identify when, and for how long, stomach acid regurgitates there. The monitor connects to a small computer that you wear around your waist or with a strap over your shoulder. The monitor might be a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that’s threaded through your nose into your esophagus, or a clip that’s placed in your esophagus during an endoscopy and that gets passed into your stool after about two days.
  • Esophageal manometry. This test measures the rhythmic muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow. Esophageal manometry also measures the coordination and force exerted by the muscles of your esophagus.
  • X-ray of your upper digestive system. X-rays are taken after you drink a chalky liquid that coats and fills the inside lining of your digestive tract. The coating allows your doctor to see a silhouette of your esophagus, stomach and upper intestine. You may also be asked to swallow a barium pill that can help diagnose a narrowing of the esophagus that may interfere with swallowing.

Treatment

Your doctor is likely to recommend that you first try lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. If you don’t experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor might recommend prescription medication or surgery.

All GERD medicines work in different ways. You may need a combination of GERD medicines to control your symptoms.

Over-the-counter medications

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid.
    • Mylanta
    • Rolaids
    • Tums
  • Medications to reduce acid production.
    • cimetidine (Tagamet HB)
    • famotidine (Pepcid AC)
    • nizatidine (Axid AR)
    • ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Proton pump inhibitors that block acid production and heal the esophagus.
    • lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR)
    • omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC)

Prescription medications

Surgery and other procedures

GERD can usually be controlled with medication. But if medications don’t help or you wish to avoid long-term medication use, your doctor might recommend:

  • Fundoplication. The surgeon wraps the top of your stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter, to tighten the muscle and prevent reflux.
  • LINX device. A ring of tiny magnetic beads is wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the beads is strong enough to keep the junction closed to refluxing acid, but weak enough to allow food to pass through.

 

Lifestyle & home remedy

Lifestyle change

Making lifestyle changes can reduce your GER and GERD symptoms. You should

  • avoid greasy or spicy foods and alcoholic drinks, avoid fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine.
  • avoid overeating, eat slowly
  • lose weight, if needed
  • wear loose-fitting clothing around your abdomen. Tight clothing can squeeze your stomach area and push acid up into your esophagus
  • stay upright for 3 hours after meals. Avoid reclining and slouching when sitting
  • sleep on a slight angle. Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by safely putting blocks under the bedposts. Just using extra pillows will not help.
  • quit smoking  and avoid secondhand smoke

Herbs and supplements

DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has proved to help with functional dyspepsia, a complex of upper abdominal symptoms that includes bloating, belching and pain, and that frequently overlaps with acid reflux. However, licorice contains glycyrrhiza, which in large quantities can cause adrenal failure, resulting in fatigue, dizziness, headache and even heart failure. Glycyrrhiza has been removed from deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or DGL, which is sold commercially in the form of chewable tablets, extracts and tinctures, and teas.

Melatonin

Melatonin is primarily known for helping trigger changes in the brain that promote the onset of sleep. Preliminary studies suggest that supplemental melatonin may also offer long-term relief from GERD symptoms. Still, these benefits are typically only seen when combining melatonin with other forms of reflux treatment — not just the supplement alone.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with a lower risk of Barrett esophagus, a precancerous condition caused by GERD. They help fight inflammation in the esophagus and are commonly consumed in the form of fish oil.

Herbs

Supplements made of peppermint, ginger, marshmallow root, aloe help with digestion. A combination is often better than a single herb.

Life Extension, Esophageal Guardian

This product provides a totally unique approach to protecting esophageal tissue against harsh stomach acids. Instead of pursuing less secreting of stomach acid, this product provides a cap on the top of stomach, making the acid hardly accessible to the esophagus. The cause of GERD is the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes, when there’s a cap the problem is solved.

The secret to this product is what happens when alginic acid and potassium bicarbonate come into contact with gastric acids. Alginic acid forms a gel and potassium bicarbonate produces bubbles that get trapped in that gel—producing a floating foam layer that sits above the contents of the stomach.

Immediately, two other natural ingredients in this formulation— calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate—react with the stomach acid to create lift in the foam and make it firmer. Clinical studies show that this temporary foam barrier provides maximum support for delicate esophageal tissues. Also, the carbonate and bicarbonate in these ingredients help neutralize stomach acid. The barrier can develop within one minute.

 

 

Related posts:

What Is Acid Reflux or GERD?

Tests for Acid Reflux

Will Hiatal Hernia Cause Acid Reflux?

How Do Probiotics Help Relieve Acid Reflux?

What Can I Do to Stop Acid Reflux Immediately?

Can I Use Baking Soda to Treat Acid Reflux?

Does Vinegar Work for Acid Reflux?

How to Cure Acid Reflux in Hiatal Hernia?

 

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.