Acid reflux disease
reflux disease or Gastroesophageal
reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder in which stomach
acid flows backward from the stomach into the esophagus. More
than 60 million people in America suffer from GERD at least
once a month, and 25 million adults experience its symptoms
daily. Though GERD is most common among pregnant women and the
elderly, people of all ages may experience the occasional bout
What are the symptoms of
The hallmark symptom of GERD is
heartburn. This burning sensation begins behind the breastbone
and moves upward toward the neck and throat. Some people may
feel as though food is returning to the mouth, causing an
acidic or bitter taste. The burning and pressure may last up
to two hours and is usually most painful after eating.
How can you relieve the
symptoms of GERD?
The good news is that the person
with GERD can probably find relief from GERD by modifying his
or her diet and lifestyle, and by properly using
over-the-counter medications. He or she might want to avoid
foods such as chocolate; peppermint; coffee; spicy, fatty and
fried foods; citrus fruits and juices; tomato products; and
alcohol - all of which contribute to acid indigestion.
tobacco stimulates the production of stomach acid and weakens
the muscle connecting the stomach and esophagus, quitting
smoking might be a good idea. And if he or she is obese,
losing weight may help relieve symptoms.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antacids can neutralize acid in the
stomach and esophagus and provide temporary relief from the
symptoms of GERD. OTC acid reducers can provide longer lasting
relief, but if the person with GERD needs medications more
than twice a week, he or she should see a doctor. Prescription
medications are also available to treat the effects of
heartburn and chronic reflux.
A small percentage of people with chronic GERD may require
surgery, and the presence of stomach acid in the esophagus can
lead to serious complications. GERD, however, is rarely a
life-threatening condition, and most people can learn to