Foods to avoid if you have acid reflux aka Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as GERD
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Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can be caused by a few different things, one being the emptying of the stomach. Many simply think that the cause is fatty foods or foods that are high in cholesterol, but there are actually life altering events that can cause acid reflux. Some patients may actually produce an abnormal amount of acid that causes acid reflux and others may have several different causes at work, but chances are it is one of four causes; this is what you need to know about the emptying of the stomach.
With most people suffering from acid reflux the episodes occur after eating a meal, usually within a few minutes from completing the meal. However, with some people the stomach tends to empty in an abnormally slow manner that causes the probability of acid reflux to get better and better. Usually this is due to a transient relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter caused by the distention in the stomach that is brought on by eating a large meal.
If you don’t know what is causing your acid reflux then it may be in your best interest to seek help from a medical professional in hopes of curing your problem. Your acid reflux could be brought on by some sort of life experience that you don’t read about on the internet or might only be helped by a specific brand of medication. As is the case with other disease or conditions causing discomfort, there are solutions to be found in grocery and drug stores, but could only see help brought on by prescription drugs.
As always, before you attempt to self medicate or try a new health regimen or program we suggest you retain the services of a qualified health care professional.
The Doctor Visit: Acid Reflux
Now the pain has gotten to be a little bit too much and you are ready to move on to consulting a medical professional to determine just what it is that afflicts you and your digestive system. How do you know what to take to your doctor and just what is pertinent to those who are suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease? Helping the doctor diagnose it right in the first place may help you begin to overcome the symptoms of acid reflux faster and more efficiently, here are a few things you should speak to the doctor about.
Something about the doctor makes us begin to space out, making the case for taking notes even more important than you thought.
Make Notes Before the Visit- Like when we take a test in high school or college the chances are that we know what we want to say before the test begins, but not after it has begun. Don’t forget anything, it doesn’t make you a nerd to take a sheet of paper with notes on it into the exam room.
Make Detailed Notes about Your Symptoms- Don’t be embarrassed by the struggles with abdominal pain or stomach discomfort, it may be crucial to your diagnosis. If you have had extreme weight loss or struggles with major headaches then it is in your best interest to share this with the doctor. Even if it doesn’t help with a diagnosis of acid reflux it could help diagnose the problem at hand. Make sure you note problems with swallowing or any pain you may have as a result of swallowing as this could mean your reflux is of the more severe persuasion.
Allow the Doctor to Understand Your Life- You don’t have to share your deepest and darkest secrets with the doctor, but do let him or her know of major changes in your life like diet or weight loss. If you have had struggles with your mood or stress levels lately then it may be related to the condition that you are afflicted with. Finally, it may seem invasive or embarrassing, but let the doctor know if you are suffering from a loss of sexual desire or libido. If it helps you feel better then it will be worth it.
Remember that though the doctor is trained to perform these kinds of diagnosis, it doesn’t mean that he or she can do it without the help from you, the patient. Make sure you provide everything possible about your life to help the process.
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can be caused by a few different things, one being hiatal hernia. Many simply think that the cause is fatty foods or foods that are high in cholesterol, but there are actually life altering events that can cause acid reflux. Some patients may actually produce an abnormal amount of acid that causes acid reflux and others may have several different causes at work, but chances are it is one of four causes; this is what you need to know about hiatal hernia.
The effect of a hiatal hernia on acid reflux is not known for sure, but it is generally assumed that hiatal hernias do have something to do with gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is important to understand how the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, relates to the condition called acid reflux because a hiatal hernia does affect the LES, which in turn causes acid reflux.
When a hiatal hernia occurs the diaphragm, where the LES lies in proximity to the abdomen, is punctured and a small part of the stomach comes free. As a result, the LES moves to the chest and is no longer at the level of the diaphragm where it needs to be. So if a person doesn’t have a hiatal hernia their esophagus is continually contracted around the diaphragm. Those who do have a hiatal hernia don’t have a continually contracted esophagus, causing acid reflux.
If a hiatal hernia doesn’t affect the individual in this way it could be that there is a hernial sac, a small pouch in the stomach above the diaphragm. The sac is then pinched off by the stomach and LES by the diaphragm and begins to trap acid that is moving from the stomach. This keeps the acid close to the esophagus making it more possible that reflux will occur with a transient relaxation or swallow. Finally, the hiatal hernia may affect reflux by blocking a flap of tissue that is intended to act like a valve to slow movement to the stomach.
Treating Acid Reflux with Lifestyle Changes
When the subject of “treating” a disease comes up people generally turn to the idea of science or medicine first, expecting a prescription drug to be ordered. One way to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease is to make some important changes in one’s individual lifestyle. This can sometimes be even more successful on a large scale than any prescription drug because some people don’t realize that their diet may need to be different than a friend, even though they eat the same things. Different people react differently to different foods.
One of the first things to consider as a lifestyle change is the position that the individual suffering from acid reflux sleeps in. Instead of sleeping perfectly flat where gravity becomes irrelevant and the acid can sit in a single position, purchase a pillow or cushion that places the upper body upright. Not just the head, but the entire upper body needs to be raised to restore the effects of gravity, in turn keeping the acid out of the esophagus for a prolonged period of time.
Everyone loves a big and hearty meal, but the traditional American Family dinners may not be the best thing for the acid reflux sufferers. Instead of waiting for a large family meal to send you into the evening or a big lunch to help overcome the rest of the business day, try eating smaller and more frequent meals to alleviate the acid reflux problem. With less food to distend the stomach and less work required by the stomach for the stomach to be emptied, the chances of an episode of acid reflux occurring will drop considerably.
Try avoiding the chocolate, cola drinks, peppermints, and alcohol as they tend to irritate the lower sphincter and cause reflux. Fatty foods and smoking can also cause the problem, which can humorously be alleviated at times by chewing gum. Since the gum creates more saliva to offset the acid in the esophagus you are effectively battling the acid that is trying to travel back up your system.
Treating Acid Reflux with Endoscopy
What is possible for someone who is suffering from the symptoms of acid reflux disease who cannot endure a surgery or is not seeing results from prescription drugs to alleviate the pain? Recent developments with endoscopy have provided a new and improved way to try to overcome gastroesophageal reflux disease for the faint of heart from the hospital knife. There are a few different types of endoscopy that are available to those afflicted with GERD, below is a brief description of each of these procedures.
Even though this has been found in people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease it is not common at all, only being found in around 20% of people with the condition. There is no clear cause and effect with all forms of acid reflux or with all people that suffer from acid reflux on a flat and general scale.
Suturing the LES- This type of endoscopy requires the doctor to suture or stitch the area around the lower esophageal sphincter. What this procedure does is tighten the sphincter in a way that it can be much more successful in assisting in the proper treatment of acid in the system. This has been very successful and is relatively painless overall.
Radio Frequency LES- Those who know how GERD works understand that the lower esophageal sphincter is perhaps the most important part of the process to alleviate acid pains from acid reflux. With radio frequency treatment the doctor will send radio waves through the outside of the stomach in the area around the sphincter. These waves will cause damage to the tissue around the sphincter and shrink the scar tissue, in turn tightening the LES.
Esophageal Wall Injection- This process injects a material into the esophageal wall that adds pressure to the LES and prevents reflux. This is another excellent alternative to surgery or the constant bombardment of antacids and histamine antagonists. With the relative immaturity of these procedures it is important to find a doctor who is experienced and confident in performing the procedure.
Finally, if you are at your doctor inquiring about ways to prevent acid reflux ask him or her if there are any new procedures for preventing transient LES relaxation. There are a few on the market today, but most have several side effects and aren’t generally considered to be a viable alternative to reflux.
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