Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that occurs when the stomach acid and other contents flow back, reaching and irritating the esophagus. GERD is a chronic disorder and a type of acid reflux that is considered severe. Read more about this condition and find out about what measures you can do to prevent this unpleasant condition.
How do you know if you have GERD?
There are other conditions that share the same symptoms as GERD, such as:
- Acid indigestion
- Acid Reflux
GERD is more serious than these and the best way to know if you are actually suffering from this lingering condition is consulting with a medical expert. The doctor that you should see is called a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is a doctor that specializes in the health and treatment of the digestive tract.
During your consultation, the gastroenterologist will evaluate your condition and check on the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing:
- Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
- Feeling of a lump stuck in the throat
- Food regurgitation (Backwash)
- Heartburn or a burning sensation in the chest after eating, which worsens when lying down
- Pain in the upper abdomen or chest
- Persistent cough
After evaluating your symptoms, your doctor may ask you to undergo some medical tests to for a more accurate diagnosis as well as to check for any possible complications. These tests may be any of the following:
|Type of Test
|Esophageal Manometry Test
|This test is done to know if the esophagus is functioning well.
|This procedure uses a catheter (a tube that is thin and flexible) that is equipped with pressure sensors.
The tube is inserted through the nostril, passing through the esophagus until it reaches the stomach,
|The inserted catheter is able to provide information about the behavior of food as it travels from the esophagus to the stomach. It tests the ability of the sphincter muscles to open and close completely.
|Esophageal pH Test
|A procedure that is done to measure the level of acid or pH that reaches the esophagus from the stomach within 24 hours.
|A small equipment consisting of a tiny probe that is attached to a small wearable monitor.
|The tiny probe is inserted into the nostril and is placed near the lower esophagus. The device works by monitoring the activity inside the esophagus.
Through the probe and the monitor, you will be able to track your eating schedule and how many times you reclined , as well as the number of times the symptoms occurred
|A procedure that is carried out using an endoscope to see the condition of the esophagus and stomach.
|Uses a device called endoscope, which is a long thin flexible tube that has a tiny camera and pin light attached to one end. The other end of the tube connects to a monitor.
|The camera that travels through captures images inside the esophagus and stomach, which are then projected to a monitor, allowing the doctor to evaluate each organ’s health.
|Done to check any damage in the esophagus.
|Also uses an endoscope.
|The endoscope is inserted to the nose, is maneuvered carefully down the throat, and into the esophagus to search for damage. The images taken by the camera are shown in the monitor.
|X-ray of the Upper Digestive System
|This procedure is done to see the outline of your esophagus and stomach.
|The procedure is done using X-ray equipment and a chalky substance that is taken orally.
|The patient is asked to drink a chalky substance that works to coat and fill the inner lining of the digestive tract. X-rays are taken after, capturing the silhouette of the esophagus and stomach, enabling the doctor to evaluate their condition.
What are ways to prevent GERD?
There are several ways that GERD can be prevented. These tips are highly recommended for people whose risk of developing this condition is high, such as those who are:
- Diagnosed with hiatal hernia
- Diagnosed with conditions affecting their connective tissue
- Having problems with emptying their stomach fully
There are also other factors that can trigger and worsen acid reflux:
- Beverages that have caffeine or alcohol
- Certain medications
- Eating too much food
- Foods that are high in fats
To prevent GERD from developing or worsening, follow these lifestyle changes:
1 Avoid consumption of food and beverages that trigger acid reflux. If at all possible, do not eat spicy, oily, fatty, acidic, and carbonated food and beverages to avoid irritating your stomach. If you need coffee to start your day and cannot skip it at all, try to lessen the amount that you consume.
2 Cut down on the food that you eat. A full stomach can place pressure and cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to dysfunction, allowing the backflow of the contents of the stomach into the esophagus causing GERD.
3 Wait for three hours before sleeping, lounging, or reclining to rest. Laying down right after eating can cause the stomach acid to compress the LES and leak into the esophagus. Always time your meals at least 2 to 3 hours before your bedtime.
4 Lose weight. Being overweight or obese adds pressure to the stomach, which can cause acid reflux as the pressure pushes the contents of the stomachs upward and into the esophagus. Target losing 2 pounds at most per week and you can expect improvements in your condition once you have lost 15 pounds.
5 Remember not to take certain medications. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen all trigger GERD. If you are taking these medications or others that can cause GERD, consult with your doctor and ask if there are substitutes. Remember not to skip any of your prescribed medication without asking for guidance from your doctor.
6 Quit smoking. Smoking does nothing good to our health. Quitting it will improve your health’s condition and you will also be bothered less by symptoms caused by GERD.
7 Do not wear tight clothes. Clothes that are tight or too fitting can squeeze and put pressure on your stomach.
8 Raise your upper body when you sleep. Elevating your upper body about six inches with the use of pillows propped behind your back can help keep the stomach acid away from the esophagus when you sleep.
Additional info about GERD prevention, management, and treatment can be found at Gastrohealth’s website. To know more about the services that they offer for treating GERD, visit their clinic.
Gastrohealth Clinic – Dr Bhavesh Doshi | Gastroenterologist | Colonoscopy Singapore
6A Napier Rd, #03-370 Gleneagles Hospital Annexe Block, Singapore 258500
+65 6355 5773