Gastroesophageal esophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux or heartburn, is the movement of gastric (stomach) acids into your lower esophagus. Often referred to as 'heartburn' or 'acid indigestion', it is caused by the dysfunction of your lower esophageal sphincter which normally prevents food from moving back from your stomach into the esophagus. When this sphincter does not work properly, food, liquid and stomach acid can leak back into your esophagus, potentially damaging sensitive tissues.
Factors that put you at risk for developing GERD/heartburn/acid reflux include:
- excessive alcohol consumption
- hiatal hernia
- the use of certain medications including some used for high blood pressure, asthma, Parkinson's disease, menstrual irregularities, depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Symptoms of GERD/heartburn/acid reflux include:
- difficulty swallowing
- nausea after eating
- coughing or wheezing
- sore throat
- bitter taste in your mouth
- increase in pain when lying down or bending over
If you are diagnosed with GERD, your doctor will likely suggest certain lifestyle changes such as losing weight, or sleeping on your left side or with your upper body slightly raised. In terms of medication, your doctor may prescribe drugs intended to reduce the levels of gastric acid in your stomach, including antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and others. There are also drugs available for protecting your stomach lining and even for strengthening your lower esophageal sphincter (be sure to discuss the side effects of these drugs). Surgery may also be an option.
Natural medicine can help greatly in preventing and managing your GERD. A nutritional counsellor can not only help you lose weight where necessary, but can also recommend what foods to eat and what to avoid, such as chocolate, which can worsen your heartburn. Acupuncture and TCM can help you swallow more easily and can reduce your heartburn. Yoga and massage therapy can also decrease your symptoms dramatically.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent and manage gastroesophageal reflux disease.
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