Gastro-esophageal reflux diseases (GERD) characterized by reflux of gastric contents from the stomach to the esophagus. The patient often experiences different signs and symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Most people always dream of that prom night, dinner, thanksgiving service, or a night out with friends. However, this is not true for those suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux diseases especially Americans. These days are often terror night, and GERDS patients live this day like a ticking bomb, waiting to explode. Most people are scared of the consequence of eating the wrong food that triggers heartburns or other gastro-esophageal reflux disease symptoms. GERD is a chronic digestive tract condition that leads to backflow of gastric contents into the esophagus, most people often complain of a feeling of bitter tastes in their mouths and frequent heartburns. These diseases can be treated with medications and lifestyle modifications. Small changes in lifestyle choices such as diet and regular exercise can help in the management of this disease.
The mode of treatment for GERD depends on the frequency and severity of the symptoms, especially if heartburns and diarrhea are present. Some patient’s day to day activities are affected by this condition; most people have difficulty feeding and have to avoid eating their favorite dish, dinners, and meetings. Patients are advised to make general lifestyle changes such as weight loss, changing diets, frequent exercise, quitting smoking, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods. The severity of the disease determines what treatment would work for patients; lifestyle modifications are often not sufficient for treating people suffering from severe GERD. The most frequently asked question is: when should we switch from lifestyle modification to medication? The medical guidelines for managing GERD states that, if a patient experience daily GERD symptoms for a minimum of 3 times a week, it is an indication for medication. Start your patient on medication as soon as they complain of daily symptoms for a minimum of thrice a week. There are different ways to treat GERD with and without drugs.
GERD Treatment Options without Medication
There are several ways of managing GERD without medication, this is not to undermine the beneficial effects of drugs, but we all know, there are specific cases when pills are the last thing you want to take, or the hospital seems far away. Most people experience mild GERD symptoms that can be treated in a non-conservative way. The best GERD treatment options without medication include:
- Grazing:: This is terminology for frequent and smaller meals. Overeating puts a lot of strain on the stomach which leads to regurgitation of gastric contents into the esophagus. Dividing your 3 big meals into frequent smaller meals can help prevent heartburns and other GERD symptoms. Moreover, there is a limit to what the body can digest and absorb per time. Eating sparingly and slowly can provide an environment for the body to utilize the nutrients digested efficiently.
- Avoid Food Triggers: Eliminating Food triggers such as onions, fried foods, spicy foods, onions, garlic, and alcohols. This change in diet could seem like torture, but it is a temporarily sacrifice for the greater good. Try reducing this specific food and see how your body responds to this diet change.
- Avoid Carbonated Drinks: Carbonated beverages and sparkling water often cause burping, which leads to regurgitation of acidic contents into the esophagus. There are little tweaks to eliminate this symptom. replacing your sparkling water with flat water can reduce the quantity of regurgitated foods.
- Post-prandial Position: Sitting or standing after eating, favors gravitational pull of foods forms the esophagus to the stomach, it ensures that the ingested foods stay in the stomach where it belongs. Sleeping or lying down before 3 hours after eating is bad for the body. This means, elimination of midnight snacks, or sleeping immediately after eating, and post-launch naps.
- Take it Easy: Avoid hectic or strenuous activities post-prandial, this could lead to reflux of gastric contents into the stomach. Taking a light walk or stroll after eating your favorite meal for dinner is healthy, just avoid and strenuous exercise or activities that involve
- Incline your Bed: There are specific beds that help in managing GERD patients by inclining your head 6to 8 inches above your feet.
- Weight loss: Obesity and excessive weight decreases the lower esophageal sphincters pressure leading to frequent heartburn and regurgitation
- Smoking: Nicotine present in cigarettes weakens the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to many heartburns and other GERD symptoms.
GERD Treatment OTC
There are numerous over-the-counter drugs you can buy to treat GERD and its accompanying symptoms. There are a lot of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs used for treating GERD symptoms. Most people with mild symptoms response to lifestyle changes, but some people respond to medications, especially when with severe GERD. The most common OTC used for treating gastro-esophageal reflux diseases includes:
- Antacids: This is one of the best medications for immediate relief for heartburns and GERD symptoms. This drug is useful because it suppresses the quantity of gastric acids within a short period. Antacids are available in different forms such as liquids, gums, chewable, or tablets. It is a mixture of calcium, magnesium, aluminum,e.t.c. Ensure you follow the correct dosage to avoid complications such as diarrhea and constipation.
- H2 Blockers: These are specific drugs that reduce acid production by the parietal cells of the stomach. Its onset of action is slower when compared to antacids, but it provides permanent relief for the patient after 1 hour. The common H2eceptors blockers include cimetidine, famotidine, and ranitidine.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI): They are the most effective medication for GERD symptoms, because they block gastric acid production, especially in people experiencing frequent heartburn or severe GERD symptoms. The drugs can come in pills form and only available as a prescription
Prilosec vs. Nexium
Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole) are both proton pump inhibitors used in treating gastroesophageal reflux diseases. They both have similar chemical components and mechanism of action. The most frequent question on the internet is should this drug be approved and what’s the difference? The difference between these drugs is price, dosage, and effectiveness. Nexium contains equivalent twice the dosage of Prilosec, so you can say Prilosec includes some nexium. Most people argue that this drug is a scam and shouldn’t approve since it is just an increased dosage of Prilosec. However, there are different factors to be considered by regulatory bodies before legalizing and approving a drug.
GERD could ruin a party or affects day to day activities of an individual. However, there are different home remedies to help you eliminate this symptom without drugs.
Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. (2018). Coaccess.com. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from http://www.coaccess.com/documents/GERD%20Guideline%202012_FINAL.pdf
GERD. (2018). Gastro.org. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from http://www.gastro.org/patient-care/conditions-diseases/gerd
Kennedy, J. (2018). SELF CARE OF HEARTBURN – Selfcare Journal. Self-care Journal. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from http://selfcarejournal.com/article/self-care-of-heartburn/