GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a kind of digestive disorder that has an effect on the lower esophageal sphincter. This causes the contents of the stomach to go back to the esophagus. There are some medical professionals who believe that hiatal hernia can be a cause of GERD. It weakens the lower esophageal tract and causes the reflux. The hiatal hernia is a kind of defect in the diaphragm, because of which a small portion of the stomach passes through the diaphragm into the chest. A change in the diet or lifestyle can also cause a problem of GERD. There are a number of foods including chocolate, alcohol, peppermint, caffeine drinks and fatty foods that can cause the reflux. Additionally pregnancy, asthma, obesity or cigarette smoking can also lead to this problem.
The most common symptom associated with GERD is heartburn. This starts occurring almost 30 to 60 minutes after having food. This heartburn is intensified by exercising, bending, eating or lying. Other symptoms include asthma, chest pain, chronic cough, chronic sore throat, chronic bronchitis, morning hoarseness, bloating, swallowing difficulty, nausea, and belching and weight loss. Having spicy or acidic foods and citrus juices can aggravate the condition.
The treatment of GERD is initially based on medications. However, if the medicines do not work then a surgery is suggested. Some of the medications that are used for treating GERD include:
• Antacids: This should be taken one hour after the meal to avoid any kind of reflux to neutralize the acid. Another dose should be taken two hours after the meal. The antacids can be magnesium, aluminum or calcium based.
• Histamine antagonists: These block the receptors that stimulate the production of acids. These medicines include cimetidine, famotidine and ranitidine. They block the H2 antagonists and are to be taken 30 minutes after a meal.
• Proton pump inhibitors: These stop the production of acids effectively for a longer time in comparison to the H2 antagonists. Some of these drugs include omeprazole, rabeprazole, and lansoprazole.
• Pro mobility drugs: These drugs are meant to stimulate the muscles of the GI tract including those of esophagus, stomach, intestine and colon. These drugs strengthen the peristaltic movement of the esophagus and reduce the reflux of acids. They should be taken 30 minutes after eating.
• Foam barriers: These drugs consist of antacids and foaming agents. The tablet disintegrates in the stomach and the foam floats on the contents of the stomach and prevents the acid from refluxing. On the other hand the antacid will neutralize the acid.
When drugs become ineffective, only in such conditions will the doctors recommend a surgery. It becomes unavoidable in cases of hiatal hernia or severe esophagitis. Other conditions include frequent narrowing of the esophagus, Barrett’s esophagus and severe changes in the pulmonary functions. If you have the problem of gastric reflux then it is important that you consult a doctor as soon as possible to prevent the condition from becoming worse.