Better GERD Management: A Key to Avoiding Medications
By Space Coast Daily // May 11, 2022
GERD is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, a chronic condition where the content inside the stomach flows backward up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the throat to your stomach.
As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about 20% of the U.S. population is affected by GERD. While in most cases GERD may be treated by certain dietary and lifestyle changes, it may prove to be a more severe and long-lasting condition that may cause serious complications.
You may also be familiar with the other names of GERD:
■ Acid Reflux
■ Acid Indigestion
While regular medications do offer some temporary relief, there is additional risk involved in using them. For example, recently, studies have been linking Zantac usage to cancer of the bladder. Zantac is a brand name for the medication, Ranitidine, which was being
used to provide ailment for GERD, peptic ulcer, etc.
Symptoms of GERD include:
■ Chest pain
■ Regurgitating your stomach content
■ Difficulty swallowing
■ Nausea and vomiting
■ Sore throat or irritation in the esophagus
What causes GERD?
■ Eating a large meal.
■ Eating food high in fat.
■ Consuming chocolates in abundance.
■ Side effects from certain medications such as antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, antidepressants, and asthma medications.
■ Lying soon after eating or eating right before going to bed.
Treatment and medication options for GERD
■ Medications options
1. Antacids: Antacids help in neutralizing acid in the stomach and give quick relief. However, overuse of antacids can cause nausea, diarrhea, and other kidney problems.
2. H-2 or Histamine-2 receptor blockers: Although they don’t provide instant relief as antacids, they can give relief for a longer duration. H2 blocker reduces the formation of acid by the cells inside the stomach lining.
3. Proton-Pump Inhibitors: Another OTC medication is PPI which suppresses the acid in the stomach and helps heal your esophagus.
■ Surgical option
1. Fundoplication: It is a minimally invasive method where the surgeon sews the top of the stomach around the esophagus, which adds pressure to the lower esophagus, hence, preventing reflux.
2. TIF: TIF or Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication is a minimally invasive method that relieves the esophagus. It is not even surgery, it is more like an advanced endoscopy.
3. LINX device: This is a procedure where a ring of magnetic beads is placed or wrapped around the area where the stomach and esophagus meet. The magnetic attraction is strong enough to prevent acid reflux but weak enough to let food pass.
Diet and Lifestyle changes
A key to avoiding GERD medication and GERD altogether is diet and lifestyle changes. There is nothing better than precaution. Although diet can not cause GERD, there are certain foods that may aggravate symptoms such as heartburn. But don’t you think making dietary and lifestyle changes is better than ingesting drugs that may cause far more damage to you than doing good?
■ Dietary changes for better GERD management and prevention: Food is commonly known to trigger heartburn and cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, therefore delaying the digestion process and letting food stay much longer in your stomach.
■ What not to eat:
1. Fried food
2. Fast food
3. Processed food
4. Fatty meat such as bacon and sausage
5. Tomato-based sauces
6. Citrus fruit
8. Carbonated beverages
■ What to eat:
1. High-fiber food such as oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potato carrot, beef, asparagus, beans, and broccoli.
2. Alkaline food such as bananas, melons, cauliflower, fennel, nuts, etc.
3. Food rich in water such as cucumber, lettuce, watermelon, celery, and herbal tea.
6. Healthy fat such as avocado, flaxseeds, sunflower oil, and olive oil.
7. Lean meat and seafood such as chicken, fish, turkey, and seafood.
■ Lifestyle changes for better GERD management and prevention:
1, Eating small meals throughout the day and avoiding large amounts a few times a day.
2. Sitting upright after eating
3. Eating 3 hours before sleeping
4. Not lying down after a meal
5. Quitting smoking if you are a smoker
6. Quitting alcohol
7. Not wearing tight-fitting clothes
8. Taking proper sleep
9. Maintaining healthy weight
10. Avoiding spicy, oily, salty food
GERD is not a condition that happens overnight. Our lifestyle and diet contribute a little to GERD in some cases. We can take precautions for better gut management to reduce the chances of GERD.
But, don’t leave it totally upon diet and lifestyle if you are not benefitting from it. Seek medical care if you are not getting better as soon as possible. Though, GERD is not a life-threatening condition it does hinder your quality of life on an almost daily basis.
GERD may generally be treated or controlled with over-the-counter medicines as prescribed by a medical professional. However, in cases where the medicines and lifestyle changes do not work, or if the medication cannot be taken for an extended period, GERD may also be treated with surgery.