Living with GERD: What You Should Know About This Condition
Learning that you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD might be overwhelming at first. You might feel like you need to stop doing things you normally enjoy, or that you have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle because of this condition. If you are living with GERD, know that you can still have a normal life.
Here are some things you should know about this disease, and what you can do to cope with it:
How does GERD change your digestive system?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease affects your stomach, lungs, vocal cords, larynx, and esophagus. In a digestive system that does not suffer from GERD, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is strong. A weak LES allows food and stomach acids to back up into the esophagus, which damages this tract and causes pain.
Common symptoms of GERD include a constant dry cough, persistent throat clearing, heartburn, acid reflux, chest pains, and a lump-like sensation in your throat. You might also have a constantly hoarse or scratchy voice because of these things. Contact a gastrointestinal specialist if you experience any of these symptoms regularly.
What should you do to cope with this condition?
Doctors usually prescribe dexlansoprazole or Dexilant for GERD and similar problems. It does not take long for Dexilant to work—effects are apparent within the first five hours of the medication.
Before you see your doctor, though, you can help ease the symptoms of GERD. One thing you could do is try to sleep in an elevated position. It reduces the likelihood of your stomach contents pooling in the esophagus.
To be successful with this, you must make sure your collarbones are higher than your hipbones when you sleep. Use a GERD foam wedge or an acid reflux pillow to prop up your body—simply piling on regular pillows will not work. Your head might slide down in the middle of the night.
You can also raise your headboard using wooden blocks or books. About seven inches is good enough to help you elevate your chest. If you are not keen on using a foam wedge or raising your head when you sleep, you can try sleeping on your side.
Another way to help you deal with GERD is by modifying your eating habits. Do not eat anything three hours before you lie down or go to sleep. Leaving a gap between bedtime and your last meal for the day allows your stomach to digest the food properly and pass it into the intestines. It keeps the amount of acid in your stomach low.
You can also use home remedies—many people use mustard for acid reflux since the alkaline in this condiment supposedly helps neutralize the acids. When you feel like you might suffer from an attack, take one teaspoon of plain mustard. That can help alleviate some of the stomach pains that accompany a bout of heartburn.
GERD is not a life sentence. You can have this condition and still enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Ask your doctor about which medication you can use to ease the symptoms you are experiencing, or about modifications you can make to help you sleep more comfortably or go about your day with as little interruption as possible.
For more information on how to live with GERD and heartburn, keep reading Reflux Away. We strive to provide you with the best diet and lifestyle tips for coping with GERD and other gastrointestinal conditions.
If you’re looking to treat GERD, visit our Heartburn No More website today to see how we can help!