Navigating Gastroesophageal Reflux

August 25, 2023
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often referred to as acid reflux, is a common chronic condition that occurs when stomach acid and digestive enzymes flow back into the esophagus. It causes a range of uncomfortable symptoms.

Imagine enjoying a sumptuous meal, only to be followed by an unwelcome sensation – heartburn. This is one of GERD's most notorious symptoms, characterized by a distinct retrosternal burning sensation. The chest discomfort may mimic heart-related pain but is typically not associated with exertion.

Other common symptoms include regurgitation, with sour, bitter fluids making an unexpected appearance in your throat. Dysphagia, difficulty swallowing or a sensation of food getting stuck in the chest, a chronic cough that is more prominent at night, and hoarseness, a croaky and strained voice. 
There are affective steps you can take to prevent GERD symptoms:
  • Mastering the Menu: Certain foods and beverages – citrus fruits, chocolate, spicy dishes, and caffeinated beverages – are known for aggravating GERD.
  • Portion Control, choose smaller portions; consuming excessive amounts of food can lead to overcrowding in your stomach, pushing the contents upward.
  • Weight Management, maintain a healthy weight; those extra pounds around your abdomen can be the culprit behind the reflux disease.
  • Bedtime Elevation, elevate the head of your bed, so gravity can help keep your stomach acid from creeping into your esophagus while you sleep.
  • Late-Night Curfew, finish your meals at least a couple of hours before going to bed to give your stomach a chance to digest and wind down.
  • Quit Tobacco, smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, making it easier for acid to sneak past and wreak havoc.
  • Comfortable Couture, ditch the tight fitting clothes in favor of loose attire. Your stomach will appreciate the breathing space.
If, despite your best efforts, GERD persists, consult the specialists at Bumrungrad Digestive Disease Center (DDC) to establish the best course of action. Treatment options are,
  • Antacids and H2 blockers are great for occasional heartburn
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs reduce acid production, suited for more serious GERD episodes
  • The multidisciplinary team at the Bumrungrad DDC help with all aspects of GERD and tailors a plan to suit your individual needs
  • Minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic suturing and radiofrequency therapy tighten the esophageal sphincter
  • For the most persistent cases, surgery becomes a viable option, such as fundoplication, where the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus

GERD is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact an individual's quality of life. Recognizing the symptoms, making lifestyle adjustments, and seeking appropriate medical care are essential steps in managing this condition effectively. While prevention strategies and lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms for many people, those with severe or persistent symptoms should consult the specialists at the Bumrungrad Digestive Disease Center to determine the best course of treatment. With the right approach, individuals can find relief and regain control over their digestive health.

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