Gastroesophageal reflux disease

  • Occurs when excessive amounts of stomach acid backs up into the esophagus
  • Results in irritation in the lining of the esophagus
  • Symptoms may include heartburn, indigestion and upper middle abdominal pain or burning
  • Acid reflux results from an abnormal functioning valve at the lower part of the esophagus
  • May be related to certain foods or medications, hormones or obesity
  • Cannot be spread from person to person
  • Affects males and females
  • Can occur at any age but more common in age 50 and older or during pregnancy
  • May be mild with few symptoms to severe
  • May develop complications if left untreated

GENERAL THERAPY

  • Limit size of portions, eating 4 to 5 small meals a day
  • Eat slowly
  • Wear loose fitting clothes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep a diary of triggers
  • Raise head of bed, or use wedge to elevate mattress
  • Drink more water during exercise
  • Over-the-counter medicines (refer to manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage):
    • Antacids
    • Acid blockers
    • Licorice
    • Slippery elm
    • Chamomile
    • Marshmallow

 

ALTERNATIVE THERAPY

  • Relaxation therapy to reduce stress
  • Acupuncture

 

PRECAUTIONS AND AVOIDANCES

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid foods that trigger heartburn like, citrus fruits or juice, high fat foods, tomatoes, onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeine-containing drinks
  • Avoid eating 2 to 3 hours before going to bed
  • Avoid lying down after meals

 

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IF:

  • You have chest pain, accompanied by shortness of breath, jaw pain or arm pain
  • You have frequent or severe symptoms
  • Don’t get relief with over-the-counter medicines in a few weeks
  • You need over-the-counter medicine more than twice a week

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