Reflux or the flowing of gastric acid back into the esophagus is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
It should be kept in mind that this is not a disease itself, but rather a sign that something is wrong with the digestive system. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease causes a burning sensation in the stomach. This is because of the constant backflow of gastric acid into the lower esophagus.
The environment in the stomach is acidic to help in the breakdown and digestion of the food. The PH of the lower esophagus is not as acidic as the stomach. If the esophageal lining is constantly exposed to gastric acid, it damages the lining of esophageal mucosa resulting in something that is commonly referred to as "heartburn". This manifests as a burning sensation in the stomach or chest area.
The primary cause of GERD is hyperacidity. There are several disorders that may cause gastric acid to rise to abnormal levels. The most common cause of GERD is junk, fried, or spicy food. Some other causes of GERD are:
A sedentary lifestyle
Hypercalcemia -- a high level of calcium
Overuse of medication, especially painkillers
An unpleasant burning sensation is the most typical sign of GERD. A person may also experience nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, increased salivation, atypical chest pain, coughing, and difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia). In most cases, patients complain of a burning sensation in the stomach and say that don't suffer from any other accompanying symptoms.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is not fatal or dangerous if treated properly. But if it is constantly ignored, it may cause severe complications such as cancer. Long-term GERD may lead to Barrett's esophagus -- a type of intestinal metaplasia which is a precursor of carcinoma (cancer).
It is easy to treat GERD. If you take this illness seriously, you can easily treat it at home. The first thing that you need to do is change your lifestyle. Try to develop the habit of drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning. This doesn't only prevent overproduction of gastric acid, but also keeps your digestive system clean and running. You are also advised to drink plenty of water throughout the day because it cleans your digestive tract.
Consume a glass of milk every day. Milk is a natural antacid which remarkably reduces the level of gastric acid. You should quit drinking milk if you notice watery stools more than 3 times a day.
Don't eat before going to bed. Eating just before going to the bed is the worst thing you can do to your body. It increases the acid production significantly and also causes fats to accumulate in your belly.
It is a good idea to take small meals 4 to 5 times a day rather than a big meal once or twice a day.
Quit junk food, spicy food, and fried food. Eat more fruits and drink natural juices. Take healthy meals.
Reduce your weight if you are obese.
Add some kind of physical activity or exercise if your lifestyle is sedentary. Exercise will not only keep you away from stomach burn but will also keep your muscles and organs healthy.
Changing your lifestyle will reduce the acid to normal levels, which will make the burning sensation fade away. If a change in lifestyle does not help, you should see your doctor. Sometimes lifestyle modifications along with medication are required for the treatment of GERD. The medications usually include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Omeprazole and Esomeprazole, H2 receptor antagonists like Ranitidine, Cemetidine, and Famotidine, and antacids.
It is necessary to treat this condition because it can cause severe complications. If the medications don't help, you must visit gastroenterologist who would most probably advise an endoscopy. Endoscopy is an investigation that is used to rule out severe conditions such as ulcers and cancer.
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