Many people, after eating a heavy meal, experience a burning sensation in their chest. They usually begin to panic and feel irritated.
This sensation is nothing but due to a digestive disorder known as GERD which is short for gastro esophageal reflux disease or simply known as acid reflux. This is a disorder usually seen in people who are obese or overweight, chain smokers or consume alcohol on a daily basis and also in pregnant women. The probability of this disease increases after the age of 40.
In this condition, the acid produced by the lining of the stomach for digestion flows back to the esophagus, a tube which connects our mouth to the stomach and it is usually self diagnosable. People usually take a tablet called pantop d to treat it but it might have a few side effects.
If one experiences acid reflux from time to time or more than once a week then one must see a doctor.
Reasons and risk factors for this backflow of acid can be many:
- Consumption of heavy meals and that to close to bedtime can be a major reason.
- If one is obese or overweight then one might experience it frequently.
- Smoking or consumption of alcohol or carbonated drinks can also become a reason for this.
- Also, frequent consumption of foods containing a whole lot of spice and fat can also worsen the condition.
So now one might begin to ask that why does this happen?
A muscle in the human body called the lower esophageal sphincter muscle plays a really important role in preventing the backflow of digested food.
Either this muscle weakens in the bodies of some people or they might have a hiatal hernia. In this condition the upper part of the stomach bulges up to the diaphragm which is responsible for separating the stomach and chest.
As this is self diagnosable, one can look for the following symptoms if one wants to check whether one has this disease or not:
- Feeling of discomfort or a burning sensation in your upper abdomen.
- Dry cough
- Constant burping
- Feeling of nausea after the consumption of a heavy meal.
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Sensation of a lump in your throat.
- Disrupted sleep
- Problem in breathing
A few more symptoms include bloody vomiting, bloating and wheezing.
With time these reasons can add up to one another and as a result it can worsen the situation in the following ways:
- Damage can occur to the esophagus and as a result it can narrow down.
- Ulcers can be formed which can bleed and can cause difficulty in swallowing.
- The acid can damage the lining of the esophagus which can give rise to esophageal
- If not treated on time, GERD can also give rise to asthma like symptoms in one’s body.
But there is no need to worry as there a lot of ways to prevent this:
- One should consume small meals.
- If one is an active smoker, he/she should quit smoking as it cannot cause GERD but can also cause lung cancer.
- If one is obese or overweight, he/she should also try to lose weight by following a strict diet plan and should also exercise daily.
- One can also reduce the effects of GERD by raising his/her head by 6 to 8 inches while sleeping.
- One should also ensure that he/she is eating dinner two to hours before bedtime so that the food gets sufficient time to break down.
- One can also take medicines like antacids, pantop-d and proton pump inhibitors or should immediately see a doctor.
One can also make dietary modifications in order to prevent acid reflux.
- The incorporation of vegetables like green beans and broccoli contain less sugar and produce less acid in the stomach.
- Ginger can also prove to be a superfood in this situation. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is a natural treatment for heartburn.
- Oatmeal has a lot of fiber which can absorb acid from the stomach and reduce the effects of acid reflux.
- Meats like chicken and seafood like prawns contain less fat and produce less acid in the stomach.
- Egg whites, unlike egg yolks, are high in protein instead of fats and produce less acid as a result.
So if you find out that you are suffering from gastro esophageal reflux disease then there is no need to panic. By changing and modifying your lifestyle in the above mentioned ways, the effects can definitely be reduced. And as the famous saying goes “Prevention is better than cure”, one should never adopt habits like smoking or drinking as these habits can not only cause GERD but can also prove to be life threatening in various other ways.