GERD (gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or heartburn is something that most adults will experience during their lifetime. It is characterized by an uncomfortable burning sensation right behind the chest. It’s possible to have reflux without heartburn, but it is not possible to have heartburn without reflux. Other related symptoms related to GERD can be Chest pain. Heartburn can cause squeezing or burning sensation in the chest area that can radiate to back, neck, or jaw. The pain can last anywhere from minutes to hours, and resolve either spontaneously or with antacids. It usually occurs after meals, awakens the person from sleep, and may be exacerbated by emotional stress.
●Water brash or hypersalivation is a relatively unusual symptom in which person can foam at the mouth, secreting as much as 10 mL of saliva per minute in response to reflux.
●Globus sensation is the almost constant perception of a lump in the throat.
●Nausea without any other accompanying symptoms can also be due to heartburn.
The most common cause of reflux disease is when the ring of muscle that allows food into your stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) relaxes when it shouldn’t. LES is there for allowing a one-way progression of food from esophagus to stomach. If the valve opens up when it should not it causes a backup of acid or food material to esophagus.
Other causes of reflux disease include:
Poor salivary function where the person does not produce enough saliva to help offset the acid.
Poor esophageal motility where the acid does not clear fast enough from esophagus is another reason for acid reflux
Hiatus hernia which is the protrusion of stomach into the chest cavity can cause the junction between esophagus and stomach not to work properly and allow food and acid to come up.
Obesity — Obesity is a risk factor for GERD. In a survey of more than 10,000 women, increasing body mass index was associated with a significant increase in frequency of GERD symptoms. Even moderate weight gain in women of normal weight was associated with exacerbation of symptoms. The mechanisms by which obesity contributes to reflux are incompletely understood. Somehow obesity can cause increase in stomach pressure and allow food to come back up.
Pregnancy and estrogen containing pills— Heartburn occurs with 30 to 50 percent of pregnancies. This is likely due to hormonal (estrogen and progesterone reducing the tone of the muscle between esophagus and stomach) and possible mechanical factors. Estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women also appears to modestly increase the risk of heartburn.
Food and medications — Specific foods (fat, chocolate, peppermint), caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and several drugs (e.g., anticholinergics, nitrates, calcium channel blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, opioids, theophylline, diazepam, barbiturates) can cause reflux by inducing LES poor function. The link between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Helicobacter pylori (a bacterial infection in the stomach) is complex and, in many cases, H. pylori may actually be protective against GERD.
Remedies for Heartburn
1.Watch how you eat: Don’t take giant mouthfuls of food. Take smaller bites and eat slowly, chew well allowing your stomach time to digest and without giving it an excuse to pump out excess acid.
Watch what you eat: Avoid specific foods that can trigger heartburn, foods high in acid (tomatoes or citrus fruits, for example,), caffeine, mint, and spicy foods. It takes time, energy, and dedication, but tracking what triggers your heartburn may be what ultimately makes it go away in the end. Instead of going crazy with what you eat and relying on over-the-counter medications to keep the acid at bay, keep a little diary of sorts that makes note of what you ate, and if/when it caused heartburn.
Watch when you eat: Don’t eat within 3-4 hours before bed. Lying down puts more pressure on your LES and increases the likelihood of acid sneaking through.
2.The Journal of Dental Research conducted a study that showed people with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic heartburn, experienced relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This is because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands, and increases the flow of saliva. Any acid that has built up in the gut is diluted and washed away or cleared out more quickly. The clearance of acid then improves the symptoms of GERD.
3.Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can set you up for terrible reflux. The nicotine and alcohol both work to weaken your LES, making it that much easier for stomach contents and acid to splash up into your esophagus. Alcohol is also going to irritate your stomach in general.
4. When you have acid burning your esophagus, it seems quite counterintuitive to ingest even more acid. In many cases though, acid reflux is caused by having not enough acid in your stomach, rather than having too much, as over-the-counter or prescription “acid blockers” imply (although that can also be the case, among other factors.) It is the acid itself that tells the lower esophageal sphincter to tighten and close off. If you don’t produce enough acid, your LES is going to think it’s no big deal to loosen up for a little bit. Then of course, you get a reflux of acid into your esophagus. If you think this may be your case, try by mixing 3 teaspoons, or up to 1 tablespoon, of apple cider vinegar into 6-8 ounces of fresh water, and drink. You can do this before each meal to see if this prevents your reflux, or cuts it off. If you feel is worsens your reflux, do not continue to ingest it. Too much may also contribute to the problem.
5. If you already have heartburn eating an apple or banana can help. Also taking baking soda with water is helpful. Aloe juice can alleviate some of the symptoms. Ginger tea can help with esophageal and gastric motility. Chamomile tea can be soothing at night.