Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)is a chronic digestive disease. It occurs when the liquid content of thestomach flows back into the esophagus. Stomach acid is believed to be the most harmful component ofthe refluxed liquid. This condition, after it starts, is usuallylife-long. There are a few risk factors that might increase the possibility of a persongetting GERD. These include: asthma, obesity, hiatal hernia, diabetes, smoking,connective tissue disorders, dry mouth, and pregnancy etc.
GERD iscaused by frequent acid reflux (the backup of stomach acid into the esophagus).When a person swallows, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes to allow foodand liquid to flow down into the stomach. Then it closes again. However, ifthis valve relaxes unusually or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into theesophagus, causing frequent heartburn. In fact, the reflux of the stomach's liquid contents intothe esophagus occurs in most people. Doctors found that reflux occurs asfrequently in normal individuals as in patients with GERD. In patients withGERD, however, that liquid contains acid more often, and the acid remains inthe esophagus longer. It has also been found that liquid refluxes to a higherlevel in the esophagus in patients with GERD than in people that simplyexperience heartburn.
The common symptoms of this disease are: heartburn (that might spread to thethroat), sour taste in one’s mouth, shortness of breath, hoarseness, chestpain, dry cough, difficulty swallowing, acid reflux, etc.It is important that people who notice the symptoms consult a physicianimmediately. GERD should be treated as soon as the first symptoms havepresented themselves.
The treatment for this condition is usually life-long. Even after the esophagus has healed the treatmentshould not be stopped. If the treatment is stopped, the injury will return inmost patients within a few months. Once treatment for GERD is begun, therefore,it usually will need to be continued indefinitely.The doctor might prescribe medication that controls acid. This includesantacids that neutralize stomach acid, medicine that reduces acid productionand medication that heals the esophagus.
There are various natural ways of treating GERD. These are:Ginger root. It is available in capsules that should be taken after dinner.A mix of water and apple cider vinegar should be consumed while havingdinner.Avoiding smoking. Tobacco smoking releases chemicals that may loosen the loweresophageal sphincter.Walking after a meal. This will help speed up digestion.Avoiding certain food and drinks that might trigger acid reflux. Theseinclude: spicy, fatty foods, onions, garlic, alcohol, coffee, etc.Drinking more water. Water helps dilute the stomach acid, thus making theperson not feel the reflux as strongly as usual.