GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disorder, is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Knowing how to manage GERD at home can help prevent complications, and keep the condition under control.
What effects can GERD have?
GERD is a condition wherein stomach acid flows up into the esophagus. Over time, this constant exposure to stomach acid can cause irritation, and in more serious cases, even damage the esophagus.
Here are some of the more common effects that GERD can have:
Heartburn, as the name suggests, is a burning sensation in the chest that happens to people with GERD. This is because the esophagus is not protected against stomach acid, so when it goes up, the acid starts to irritate the esophagus. This is the most common effect of GERD.
Regurgitation of food
Another possible effect of GERD is the regurgitation of food. This typically happens when a person with GERD eats a large amount of food or acidic foods. What happens is that aside from stomach acids, some partially digested food also goes up into the esophagus. This can give the sensation that you’re throwing up. This can also happen when a person with GERD lies down immediately after eating.
For people with long-term GERD, it is also possible to experience difficulty swallowing. This results from the damage that stomach acids have caused to a person’s esophagus. Because of the inflammation and scarring, swallowing food might be difficult and cause discomfort.
Over time, the repeated exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid can cause inflammation. This then manifests as chest pain similar to that of heartburn.
The pain usually appears around the center of the chest, and is sometimes mistaken for angina or even a heart attack.
How to manage GERD at home
Managing GERD at home is pretty straightforward. Usually, people with GERD don’t need to take any medication, but instead, need to make some lifestyle changes in order to prevent their condition from getting worse.
1. Watch what you eat
People with GERD can sometimes have “trigger foods” or foods that can trigger their condition. Once you figure out what these foods are, it would be best to try and avoid eating them, or only eat them every so often. This should help lessen the frequency of your GERD symptoms.
2. Eat smaller meals
Another way of how to manage GERD at home would be to eat frequent, but smaller meals. Instead of having 3 meals a day, you can have 6 meals throughout the day, but with a half serving each.
This helps prevent your stomach from getting full, which lowers the risk of heartburn as well as the regurgitation of food.
3. Avoid alcohol and coffee
Alcohol and coffee are drinks that usually trigger GERD. In the case of alcohol, it can damage the lining of your esophagus, and make it more prone to damage caused by acid reflux.
In the case of coffee, it contains caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, however, it can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This sphincter is responsible for blocking acid reflux from your stomach going into your esophagus. If your LES is relaxed, and you have GERD, then you might be more prone to having attacks. This is why it would be best to avoid drinking coffee as well as other caffeinated drinks if you have GERD.
4. Quit smoking
Lastly, it would be best to quit smoking if you are a smoker. Cigarette smoke can cause a number of illnesses including various types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular problems.
Aside from this, cigarette smoke also contains nicotine, which can also relax your LES just like caffeine. This is also the reason why some smokers experience acid reflux right after smoking.
GERD is a manageable condition. By taking the proper precautions and making lifestyle changes to accommodate this condition, GERD can be managed and treated.
Learn more about GERD here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.