Gastroesophageal reflux disease is one of the most common diseases that is encountered by the gastroenterologist. It is a chronic condition which is defined as a condition in which stomach contents flow back into the food pipe. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD results from disorder valve mechanism between the esophagus and stomach.
Generally, the valve or the lower esophageal sphincter opens during swallowing in order to allow the food to enter the stomach and later it closes to prevent the food and stomach secretion from moving backward into the esophagus. However, when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to close properly, the contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease?
The symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease occur due to the flow back of contents into the esophagus or due to the damage to the esophageal lining or mucosa. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is associated with a wide range of symptoms, but the two most common symptoms of this disease include:
- Heartburn – Heartburn is very common and according to the studies, millions of adult suffer from heartburn every month. Almost everyone has it as some point in time. Heartburn can be characterized as a discomfort or a burning sensation and sometimes even pain is felt rising up from the lower chest to the neck. Many times, heartburn is also known as indigestion. Most often, heartburn becomes worse after eating, lying down or any other physical activity.
- Acid regurgitation – It is a condition which occurs when a partially digested food from the stomach back up into the esophagus and sometimes into the throat and mouth.
Some other symptoms that can occur in gastroesophageal reflux disease are as follows:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive Burping
- A sore throat
Triggers of gastroesophageal reflux disease
The causes of this disease are complex and there are several factors that can play a role in the occurrence of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Foods are the most common cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease. There are some food items that are known to trigger the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux diseases and some of them are as follows:
- Fatty or fried foods
- Citrus fruits
- Carbonated beverages
Risk Factors associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease
There are various factors that are known to be the risk factors for the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some of the risk factors are as follows:
Obesity is considered to be the most common risk factor for the occurrence of gastroesophageal reflux disease. There is no doubt in saying that both obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease are rapidly increasing throughout the world and both appear to have a negative impact on the quality of life.
Obesity is a chronic disease and it is a condition which occurs when an individual becomes overweight. Obesity is defined as a condition in which the fat gets accumulated in the body and this excessive accumulation of fat interferes in doing daily common activities. Obese people are associated with an increased sensitivity of esophagus to acid, increased intraabdominal pressure and vagal abnormalities. Also, obese patients have higher bile and pancreatic enzyme output that results in refluxate more toxic.
2. Hiatus hernia
A hiatus hernia is a problem of the upper digestive system and heartburn is the most common symptom of it. The burning sensation in the lower central chest by refluxing stomach acid irritates the lower esophagus, which lacks the protective mucus lining of the stomach. Some other common symptoms of a hiatus hernia include bad breath, coughing, a bitter taste, and food regurgitating into the mouth. The symptoms of this disease are similar to the symptoms that occur in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Irritation of the throat results in the coughing which may trigger the spasm in the esophagus with severe and extensive chest pain.
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Cigarette smoking is said to be the common cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease and many researchers have claimed that quitting cigarette smoking can help in treating gastroesophageal reflux disease. Cigarette smoking is associated with various health problems such as insomnia, obesity and some psychological disorders. To some extent, all these health problems are correlated with the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Sometimes pregnancy is also a risk factor of gastroesophageal reflux disease as it has been noticed that many pregnant women complain of suffering from the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. It can be treated by managing it effectively and taking care of some of the things that can trigger this disease.
5. Family history
Yes! Gastroesophageal reflux disease can be the result of family history. If one or both parents have gastroesophageal reflux disease then a child is more likely to be suffering from this disease.
Ways to prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Limit the intake of caffeine
- Avoid lying down for at least two hours after eating
- Maintain your weight
- Eat smaller meals
- Quit smoking
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