Occasional heartburn may accompany some form of excess, such as overeating or various combinations of food and drink. As long as these episodes are few and far between, there’s little to worry about.
For those who have mild heartburn twice a week or more, or who experience moderate to severe acid reflux at least once a week, heartburn escalates to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
While it’s often possible to treat GERD with over-the-counter medications and changes to your lifestyle, some people require stronger drugs or even surgery to manage their symptoms.
Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center specializes in GERD treatment, so if your home care efforts aren’t producing the relief you want, check in with one of their five offices in the Greater Detroit area.
In the meantime, take a look at your lifestyle and habits to see if you have an easy opportunity to suppress your symptoms.
Causes behind GERD
It’s accurate to consider GERD simply the frequent recurrence of acid reflux, but when it’s too frequent or uncontrolled, GERD may cause complications that occasional acid reflux likely won’t. GERD can cause serious damage to the esophagus, including changes leading to cancer.
Acid reflux and GERD result from the failure of the lower esophageal sphincter. This band of muscle normally permits only one-way movement of food into the stomach, while preventing stomach contents from backwashing into the esophagus. When the sphincter fails at this, stomach acid can create the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn.
Lifestyle conditions affecting GERD
Unlike other forms of relaxation, it’s not a good thing when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes, for that’s when acid reflux happens. You may have conditions that trigger this relaxation, such as foods or drinks you consume, or how you consume them.
GERD relief might be as simple as altering your behavior or limiting the intake of some of these triggers. Here are several common situations that can make your GERD symptoms worse.
Coffee, tea, cola, and even chocolate can deliver caffeine into your system. For some, it’s a chemical that relaxes the sphincter and releases stomach acid. Try cutting back on the high-test versions or substituting with decaffeinated versions of your favorites. If caffeine isn’t your difficulty, keep a food and drink diary to identify possible GERD triggers.
There’s something luxurious about a decadent midnight snack. However, eating within two hours of bedtime could aggravate GERD because of the gravity assist that stomach acid gains when you lie down. The snack itself may trigger stomach acid production, so there’s more potential for reflux.
You wait all year for a Thanksgiving turkey or an Easter ham, and those meals connect with good times and good memories. It’s easy to overeat with so many favorites on the table before you, and overeating is almost a part of tradition. The overload, though, could come back to haunt you.
If you ease your intake to let your body cope with the feast, you reduce your reflux chances.
Other habits like smoking or alcohol binges can also cause conditions that accelerate acid reflux, and there are even physical issues that contribute to GERD.
When you can’t get a handle on the heartburn, contact Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center for specialized assistance. You can call the nearest office or request an appointment online. The solution to GERD may come sooner than you think.