Acid Reflux/GERD – Do you want to know about it? Are you waking up with heartburn in the morning?
Then this article is for you.
let’s discuss a very common problem nowadays that is the Acidity or Acid Reflux or hyperacidity or GERD or in Ayurveda called Amlapitta अम्लपित्त. We will discuss in detail the causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment of GERD and Amlapitta.
What is Acid Reflux or GERD?
It is a common, treatable digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipe or esophagus lining.
Meaning of GERD
It means, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. It is a chronic disease and is usually self-diagnosable.
Definition of GERD-Acid Reflux
It is a digestive disorder that affects the Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES, a ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach
Many people have bad eating habits, including pregnant women suffering from heartburn or acidity, or indigestion caused by GERD.
In Ayurveda, it may be correlated with amlapitta, a disease that occurs due to the vitiation of Pitta Dosha in the body.
Many people occasionally experience Gastro Esophageal Reflux GER, but if a person experiences persistent Acid Reflux appearing more than twice a week, it may be diagnosed as GERD.
So the GERD is a long-term regular occurrence of Gastroesophageal Reflux, GERD.
In the United States, about 25% of people are suffering from it.
Some facts about GERD are,
It may result from a dysfunctional valve at the top of the stomach and bottom of the food pipe, esophagus.
The stomach acid persistently and regularly flows up into the esophagus due to weak LES.
This stomach acid that reflects back into the esophagus, can cause heartburn and dangerous tissue damage.
Difference between Heartburn, Acid reflux, and GERD
Heartburn is the most common symptom of Acid Reflux in which a burning sensation is felt in the chest or abdomen and is not related to the heart. This is felt behind the breastbone and mostly felt after eating and can worsen while sitting or lying down.
Acid Reflux also called Gastro Esophageal Reflux or GER occurs when stomach acid comes back in the food pipe or esophagus to the mouth.
As described earlier,
GERD is a chronic acid Reflux.
Causes of GERD-Acid Reflux
In a normal digestion process, the esophageal sphincter opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and acidic stomach juice from flowing back into the food pipe or esophagus.
This is a chronic problem that occurs as the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus becomes weak or opens when it should not and allows the Acid Reflux in the esophagus causing the symptoms like heartburn
The severity of it depends upon weakness as well as the type and amount of acid brought up from the stomach and the neutralizing effect of saliva.
Due to overeating, lying down after eating or eating some specific foods, occasional Acid Reflux is quite common, but when it lasts for a long time and worsen the symptoms it can cause GERD
Risk factors – Acid Reflux
Conditions that may increase the risk of this problem include,
1. Overweight or obesity as the pressure of the abdomen creates Acid Reflux.
2. A hiatal hernia – This the bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm causing this problem.
3. In pregnancy due to the expansion of the stomach, it produces the problem.
4. Lifestyle factors that can aggravate the problem include,
It is found that the nicotine present in the cigarette can relax LES muscles, causing the problem
●Eating large meals or eating late at night, Sleeping just after taking a meal, Eating certain foods like Spicy foods, Fried foods, Stale foods, Cold foods, Chocolates, Alcoholic beverages, Sour fruits like tomato and lime, Excess coffee.
In fact, coffee, when taken in a moderate amount, is healthy for us. It is less acidic than beer, orange juice, or soda as it has a pH level of 5 which is not much acidic.
Actually, coffee contains some acids which provide it with its flavor and taste, and when it is consumed in a moderate amount it’s a healthy thing for us.
The acids found in coffee,
Chlorogenic acid, these are antioxidants and are found responsible for the good taste of the coffee.
Quinic acid, these are responsible for the flavor of the coffee.
Fresh coffee is the best coffee.
Symptoms of GERD
Every person may not feel distressed by acid Reflux disease symptoms in the same way, the common signs and symptoms of this disease include,
- Heartburn a burning sensation in the chest usually after eating and it may worsen at night.
- Chest pain that may be confused with the heart pain
Chest Pain in Acid Reflux
Non-cardiac chest pain is felt due to gastric esophageal Reflux disease that may be mistaken for angina or heart disease.
The patient feels the pressure of squeezing pain behind the breastbone. Some people may experience this pain spreading to the neck left arm or back. This pain can last for a few minutes to hours.
In the United States, about 25% of people suffer from this type of non-cardiac chest pain that is found to be related to the problem of the esophagus.
●Difficulty in swallowing
●The feeling of food coming back into the mouth that is bitter or sour
●The sensation of a lump in the throat
If you feel night-time Acidity, following symptoms may also be found,
●Hoarseness of voice
●A sore throat
●A cough that won’t go away
People suffering from asthma are at a higher risk of developing this disease as asthma attacks can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, thus allowing stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus.
On the other hand, this disease can worsen the asthma attacks irritating the Airways and lungs and resulting in progressively more serious asthma
Also, irritation triggers allergic reactions to make airways more prone to environmental conditions as cold air or smoke.
GERD Nausea – Acid Reflux
This is the main symptom of this disease.
The Sourness of backing food along with frequent burping and coughing initiates nausea and sometimes vomiting.
Secondly, indigestion and heartburn that is another symptom of this disease can contribute to nausea.
In severe cases with nausea and heartburn, blood vomiting may also occur.
It can be treated easily by a combination of lifestyle changes home remedies and medications.
In Acid Reflux due to acidity, we may feel some symptoms of heartburn and acidity, but in some people, the symptoms of Reflux are not obvious so why it is called silent Gerd.
Also, laryngopharyngeal Reflux is known as silent reflux this does not cause any symptoms
Contents of the stomach could flux up your esophagus into your throat and Vice voice box and even into your nasal passages you might never know it before it becomes serious.
As it’s meaning silent GERD very few symptoms most of people don’t experience heartburn
Common symptoms maybe
●Bitter taste in the throat
●Sore throat burning sensation in the throat
●Frequently feeling of need to clear throat
●Feeling of post nasal drip from the nose into the throat.
Children and infants may experience silent GERD frequently as their upper and lower esophageal sphincter muscles are not strong enough to get close every time.
This may improve with age.
GERD in Babies – Acid Reflux
It is a common practice for infants to spit up after a meal, but frequent vomiting associated with discomfort and difficulty feeding and weight loss is considered to be caused by this problem.
The cause is seen as described in silent GERD that is the weak esophageal muscles that can improve with age
GERD in Children – Acid Reflux
In the same way, children can have this problem, due to a weak digestive system and weak muscles that can improve by having healthy habits of food and muscles become stronger with the passage of time.
Tests for GERD – Acid Reflux
This problem can be well diagnosed with the help of a few tests as follows
1. Bravo PH monitoring can check for acid in the esophagus. This device is inserted into the oesophagus and left in place for 1to 2 days to measure the amount of acid in the oesophagus.
2. Computed tomography or CT scans
CT Scan can be done by using x-ray equipment and computer processing to produce a two-dimensional image of the body where the patient lies on the table straight through a machine.
Sometimes contrast dye is also used to improve the computer image. In that case, the patient is told to stop 1eating or drinking for 4 to 6 hours before performing this test.
3. With the help of esophageal manometry
The function of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter can be checked.
4. Barium swallow or Esophagram,
Can be helpful for checking ulcers meaning of the esophagus. In this solution swallowed to help structures show up on in an X-Ray. The patient should be advised not to take water or food before 8-10 hours.
5. Endoscopy can be done to look for the problems in esophagus or stomach.
A Long flexible, lighted tube with a camera is inserted down the throat, after spraying in anesthetic in the back of the throat.
While performing endoscopy a biopsy material may be taken to check samples of tissue to check for infection or abnormality under a microscope.
Can Acid Reflux/Gerd be cured?
In mild cases, lifestyle changes and healthy food habits can allow the body to heal itself.
But in some cases, there may be a need for some antacid medications. These medications can cure the problem.
But in severe cases where the muscle damage is Irreversible, the problem becomes a lifetime.
Sometimes it can be cured with surgery
How to treat Gerd permanently naturally
People having a mild problem can be treated successfully by Lifestyle changes such as
●Cut on alcohol
●Eating smaller portions of meals
●Staying upright for a few hours after meals.
●Elevate your head side bed up to 6 to 8 inches so that Acid Reflux cannot occur
A simple extra pillow will not help in this, as we need to elevate the complete upper body while with a pillow the only neck can be elevated, however, special wedge-shaped GERD pillow can work.
●Wear loose clothing to avoid pressure on the stomach
●Avoid wearing belts.
● Avoiding certain foods which can Trigger symptoms these include
◆Colas and other carbonated drinks
◆Fried and spicy foods
●Using Gerd pillow
You can use a wedge pillow while sleeping on your side or on your back without causing tension in the head and neck. It’s available in the market. It is elevated between 30 to 45 degree that is 6 to 8 inches at the top
GERD pillows for this problem are uniquely designed, however, with the passage of time the shape and form may change, so you like we have to replace another one after a few years.
These Lifestyle changes can lower the risk of long-term damage to the esophagus throat or teeth
But sometimes Lifestyle changes are not enough and some medications are needed.
Treatment – Acid Reflux
OTC (over the counter) medication
these neutralize stomach acid and provide fast-acting relief in mild or acid Reflux some antacids come in liquid form that helps to go the lining of the esophagus and help to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach.
Overuse of these antacids may cause diarrhea, constipation, and imbalance in electrolytes gifts antacids contain calcium
Oral suspension medicines
The main medicine in this category is Carafate.
Carafate for Gerd
It is a liquid suspension that coats the inner lining of the esophagus, but it is short-lived in effectiveness because with one coating it is not going to do much
It is described in people who have symptoms less than a couple of times a week or month
Used to treat The symptoms like nausea, diarrhea and ulcers in the throat stomach and intestine
3. Anti-gas anti-flatulence – Acid Reflux
Some patients may feel bloating but being and heartburn
Overcome these symptoms, some Gasex is phasing are used that helps to relieve pressure, bloating and gas in the digestive tract
These medicines usually come in tablet form and work breaking up gas Bubbles making them easier to eliminate.
H2 receptor blockers
These were previously available only with a prescription eg. Pepcid AC and Zantac
These work by shutting off the production of acid in the stomach they are effective in mild Reflux can be used in people who have symptoms only a couple of times a month.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
These block acid production and help him in healing damage in the esophageal lining and can be used for people who are having more frequent and severe symptoms.
The line of caution for the patients is to pay attention to the frequency and severity of the symptoms and to visit a doctor if they suspect that symptoms have aggravated because it can cause severe complications if left untreated.
Warning symptoms of complications include
●Trouble In swallowing
●Unexplained weight loss
●And the drastic increase in mild symptoms
Chronic GERD causes the permanent narrowing of the esophagus leads to trouble in swallowing
In some cases, they may be changed in the lining of the esophagus due to Gerd called Barrett’s esophagus – it may lead to cancer.
It is the last option if lifestyle changes and medications don’t work and there is some damage to the lower esophageal sphincter.
We will discuss the Ayurveda concept of GERD or amlapitta in next article.