GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a chronic disease in which stomach acid runs back into the oesophagus on a regular basis, producing irritation and discomfort.
“Without a doubt, diet plays a significant influence in the development of heartburn. What we eat is critical for maintaining good digestion and avoiding heartburn and acidity. Nonetheless, she provides a list of items that can trigger acid reflux and heartburn,” said Dr Edwina Raj, Senior Dietician, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore. The underlying symptoms of GERD differ from person to person, although the following are common signs:
One of the hallmark symptoms of GERD is heartburn, a burning sensation or discomfort in the chest. This often occurs after eating and can be aggravated by lying down or bending over.
Regurgitation involves the backflow of stomach contents, including acid, into the mouth or throat. Individuals with GERD may experience a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.
GERD can cause acid indigestion or dyspepsia, characterised by discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. This discomfort may be accompanied by a feeling of fullness.
Chronic irritation of the oesophagus can lead to difficulty swallowing or a sensation of food getting stuck in the throat. This symptom may indicate more severe cases of GERD.
GERD can trigger a persistent cough, especially when lying down or at night. The cough may be dry or produce small amounts of clear or white phlegm.
Hoarseness or Sore Throat
The backflow of stomach acid into the throat can lead to irritation and result in hoarseness or a persistent sore throat. These symptoms are often worse in the morning.
Asthma or Respiratory Issues
Some individuals with GERD may experience worsening asthma symptoms or other respiratory problems. Stomach acid can irritate the airways, leading to coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.
GERD may cause an increase in saliva production, leading to the need to swallow frequently.
Chronic exposure to stomach acid can contribute to dental problems such as erosion of tooth enamel, cavities, or gum disease.
While heartburn is a common symptom, some individuals with GERD may experience chest pain that can be mistaken for a heart attack. It’s important to seek medical attention to rule out serious cardiac issues.
It’s essential to note that occasional heartburn or acid reflux is normal, but when these symptoms become frequent or severe, it may indicate GERD. Persistent GERD can lead to complications such as esophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus), Barrett’s oesophagus (changes in the lining of the oesophagus that may increase the risk of esophageal cancer), and strictures (narrowing of the oesophagus).
If you doubt you have GERD or are experiencing persistent symptoms, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can assess your symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan to manage and alleviate the discomfort associated with GERD. Lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and medications are common approaches to managing GERD symptoms.