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GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE (GERD)

GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE (GERD)

What is GERD?

GERD is a disease which occurs due to the back flow of stomach acids or other contents of the stomach in the food pipe. The acidic content causes irritation of the lining of the food pipe giving rise to GERD.

GERD can affect people of all ages from infants to older adults.

GERD can cause disturbance in day to day life or when it occurs more than 2-3 times in a week, it is the time to consult doctor before it can lead to severe damage of the oesophageal lining.

GERD can be corrected with certain lifestyle changes or if severe, with certain medications.

How GERD presents:

Everyone experiences GERD in their life. It happens when a person gets burps, burning in the chest or re-tasting of food or acidic content in the mouth. These are the most typical symptoms of GERD which are experienced by most of the people suffering from it.

Other symptoms that indicate a person is suffering from GERD are:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Sore throat
  • Sensation of lump in the throat
  • Dry cough
  • Sudden excess of saliva
  • Bad breath
What causes GERD?

GERD is caused due to frequent acid back flow or flow of bile back into the food pipe.

It is caused due to some abnormality or weakness of the valve that is present at the bottom of the food pipe and allows the entry of food from the food pipe into the stomach. When this valve weakens, the stomach acid or bile flows back into the food pipe.

This irritates the lining of the food pipe causing it to be inflamed. This inflammation can lead to further damage of the oesophagus causing bleeding, narrowing of the food pipe or Barrett’s oesophagus (a precancerous condition).

Risk factors that can lead to GERD are:

  • Obesity
  • Hiatus hernia, which is bulging of the top portion of the stomach into the diaphragm.
  • Smoking
  • Asthma
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
Complications

GERD can eventually lead to certain complications such as:

Narrowing of the oesophagus

  • Due to the damage caused by acid backflow, there is formation of scar tissue on the lining of the oesophagus. This scar tissue narrows the food pathway leading to difficulty in swallowing.

Ulcer in the oesophagus

  • The stomach acid that flows back into the food pipe erode the tissues in the oesophagus causing ulcer formation which leads to difficulty in swallowing and sometimes can even lead to bleeding.

Barett’s oesophagus or precancerous changes in the oesophagus

  • There are certain changes in the lining of the food pipe in the lower portion due to acid reflux. These changes can lead to increased risk of oesophageal cancers. Regular endoscopy examinations are necessary to keep an eye on the early signs of oesophageal cancer.
How is GERD diagnosed?

GERD can be diagnosed by its typical signs and symptoms of frequent heartburn or tasting of acid or stomach content in the mouth.

There are certain tests that may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of GERD such as:

  • Ambulatory acid (pH) test:

This test is useful in measuring the amount of acid in the oesophagus.

  • Endoscopy

It helps in examining the insides of the oesophagus.

  • Xray of the upper digestive tract (barium swallow)

This test involves drinking of a chalky liquid that coats and fills the inner lining of the oesophagus. Then Xrays are taken of the upper gastrointestinal tract to see for the borders of oesophagus, stomach and some portions of the intestines.

  • A test to measure the movement of the oesophagus

Oesophageal motility testing is the test used to measure the movement and pressure in the oesophagus.

Self help
  • Weight reduction is necessary as the excess weight puts pressure on the abdomen pushing up the stomach contents.
  • Avoiding foods and drinks that lead to heartburn such as oily and fatty foods, alcohol, garlic, onion, chocolates, and caffeine.
  • Eating smaller meals at a time but frequently.
  • Not going to the bed or exercising immediately after eating.
  • Avoid smoking as it decreases the ability of the oesophageal valve to work properly.
Homeopathic Management

Homeopathy medicines can control heartburn effectively without any adverse effects. Homeopathy medicines provide a long-term relief by healing damaged oesophageal tissue.

Homeopathy medicines for GERD

Arsenic album

  • Excellent remedy for acid reflux.
  • Foul or sour taste.
  • Hot burning sensation in the esophagus and pharynx.
  • Eructation of sour, acrid fluid with nausea, retching and vomiting of slimy mucus.
  • Trembling and coldness of extremities with pain in stomach with anxiety and restlessness.
  • Irregular and frequent pulse.

China

  • Abdominal discomfort which is only relieved by belching.
  • Sour and bitter eructations or offensive flatus.
  • Worse at night and night after meals.
  • Food does not digest but lies a long time in the stomach causing eructations and finally is vomited indigested.

Pulsatilla

  • Dryness of the mouth.
  • Putrid taste in the morning on walking and a sensation as if food had lodged under the sternum.
  • Tongue coated with thick rough white fur; acidity and heart burn is well marked in this remedy.
  • Food tastes bitter, sour or putrid; water-brash and eructation tasting of food.
  • No thirst.
  • Bad taste in the mouth.
  • It is especially useful for dyspepsia arising from fatty foods, pork, from pastry or mixed diets.
  • Worse in the evening.

Ipecac

  • Complaints with nausea or vomiting and excessive flatulence.
  • It is suitable in pregnancy.
  • Persistent nausea which is not relieved by vomiting.

Nux vomica

  • Symptoms of acid reflux with flatulence and much acidity but without nausea and vomiting.
  • Tongue is coated with creamy fur.
  • Ineffectual urging for stools with abdominal discomfort.
  • Suited for persons with sedentary habits.

Phosphorus

  • Remarkable medicine for the symptoms of acid reflux, heart burn and constant burning in the stomach.
  • Regurgitation of food.
  • Craving for cold food which is vomited as soon as it becomes hot in the stomach.
  • Spitting of blood without nausea is also common in this remedy.
  • Gone, weak feeling in the stomach.
  • Burning between the scapulae.
  • Rapid loss of flesh and anaemia.