GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a digestive disorder that affects the normal functioning of the LES or the lower esophageal sphincter. GERD makes the LES relax and lets acidic fluids produced by the abdomen flow into the esophagus causing damage to the lining and leading to symptoms such as burning chest, throat and nausea. It is one of the most common problems faced by people all over the world to a mild or painful degree. If symptoms of GERD increase, they can lead to many complexities. Therefore, it is advisable to cut down the symptoms leading to GERD either by changing living habits or with the help of prescribed medicines. Under the able guidance of a medical expert, GERD, once properly treated, should become a malaise of the past, allowing you to continue with life in a healthy happy manner. This article provides you with different possible treatments for GERD.
- One of the first steps recommended in curing GERD problem is to avoid foods and beverages that can weaken the LES. Food items like chocolates, peppermint, fatty foods, coffee and alcoholic beverages should strictly be avoided in order to reduce the risk of GERD. Citrus fruits and juices, tomato products and pepper consumption should also be curbed because of their ability to irritate the esophageal lining especially if it is already under a GERD attack.
- Reduction in the portion of meals that you consume will also help in controlling the symptoms leading to GERD. Overeating will put pressure on the abdomen which will increase acid reflux action. Having meals 2 to 3 hrs before going to bed is also said to help curb symptoms causing GERD. A time gap between the meal and bedtime will lead to proper digestion and reduction in the reflux acid produced by the stomach.
- Smoking and alcoholic beverages are major contributors to the condition of GERD. Smoking and alcohol weaken the LES, forcing it to relax and not perform its function of guarding reflux properly. Therefore, in order to reduce GERD symptoms, one needs to give up on smoking and alcohol consumption.
- Another way to treat symptoms of GERD is to sleep with your head on an elevated surface. You can either elevate the head of the bed using blocks or get a specially designed raised cot. Sleeping by putting your head at a height will reduce symptoms by allowing gravity to minimize the reflux of acids into the esophagus.
- Consumption of antacids can also help neutralize acid reflux into the esophagus and its formation in the stomach. Consumption of antacids provides partial or temporary relief from the symptoms of GERD. You can also combine antacids with a foaming agent such as alginic acid to experience a better result. These compounds are believed to form a foam barrier on top of the stomach that prevents acid reflux from happening.
Promotility drugs are also said to be effective in the case of some of the patients. This drug is effective in case of non-erosive or mild GERD conditions only. But, it is recommended to consult a physician before opting for promotility drugs because the drug has its own set of adverse effects in people with certain pre-existing conditions.
H2 blockers are another such drug recommended to curb the symptoms of GERD. H2 blockers help in reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. These drugs are said to eliminate the symptoms of GERD and allow esophageal healing in most of the patients.
Proton Pump Inhibitors
This drug limits the acid secretion in the stomach and also rapidly resolves symptoms of GERD, healing the esophagus in around 80% to 90% of patients. The drug is also useful in managing stricture, one of the complications involved in GERD.
Once the medical therapy fails, or if one experiences side effects with the drug treatment, surgery is the only option left with the patients. There are two types of anti-reflux surgeries available and recommended, namely open and laparoscopic. Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure of choice because of reduced post-surgery recovery time. One of the most common laparoscopic anti-reflux surgeries is called ‘Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication’. The surgeons rebuild the upper end of the stomach into a high pressure zone, making it strong enough to prevent acid reflux from rising into the esophagus.
Important Note: All the above mentioned treatments are for your information only. Please don't try them on your own and always consult a doctor for advise on the course of treatment to be followed.