GERD is the short form for a medical condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease. As the names imply, it is a disease characterized by reflux of gastric content from the stomach (gastrum) to the esophagus. It is one of the most commonly undiagnosed diseases in babies and often misdiagnosed with colic. Patients suffering from GERD often experience a sour or bitter taste in their mouth due to reflux of hydrochloric acid from the stomach. It is often affected by the position of the individual suffering from these diseases. There are different lifestyle choices such as lying down immediately after food intake that could worsen the symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux disease. About 5 percent of babies suffering from GERD are often misdiagnosed for colic.
GERD left untreated could become fatal and leads to different respiratory complications. Early detection is the key to eliminating diseases. Most babies would develop an active immunity at the age of 1. Treating a child with GERD with medications prescribed by medical practitioners could help in managing these diseases till your baby is a year old or with the developed immune system. The normal digestion process starts to form the mouth to the stomach, when we eat any foods, the teeth, and tongue accompanied by the masticatory muscles, helps in breaking down this food into smaller molecules, this food is swallowed through the esophagus in to the stomach for proper digestion, however, contrary to the standard physiological process, here is a condition that involves retrograde movement of food form the stomach to the esophagus.
What Causes GERD
GERD is often caused by any medical condition that stimulates retrograde movements of food form the stomach into the esophagus. Different diseases or structural abnormalities such as weakened lower esophageal sphincter could stimulate this process. The lower esophageal sphincter is the valve separating, the lower part of the esophagus from the stomach. Physiologically, the normal function of this sphincter is to prevent reflux of food from the stomach into the esophagus. Conditions that alter the basic functionality or purpose of this sphincter could cause gastroesophageal reflux disease. Infants often have weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES) which predisposes them to gastro-esophageal reflux diseases. GERD often presents as spit-ups in infants and heartburn in adults. These symptoms are escalated by the facts that. The most diet of babies contains liquid foods, and they spend most times in a pronated or supine position. Laying down makes it easier for fluids to flow in a retrograde direction from the stomach to the esophagus. It is medically advisable not to lie down for at least 3 hours after your last meal.
There are different symptoms of GERD depending on the age group, lifestyle, and duration of the diseases. Most people experience different symptoms at a different age. It is more difficult to diagnose this conditions in infants because they can’t speak, they can say expressions like “ mom, my chest is aching and dad, I can’t swallow that milk.” It is easier to diagnose in adults because they can explain the symptoms to the medical doctor. The most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include:
- Spit ups and Crying: These symptoms are pathognomic for GERD in infants. The frequent reflux of food contents forms the gastrum often makes the infants to spit-up often. Most babies spit-ups frequently than usual and can become irritable while feeding. The frequency and the degree of the reflux could lead to other complicated symptoms such as chocking and gagging in babies. Sometimes, these babies can become extremely irritated that they retract away from feeding bottles or the nipple as a sign of reflux or inconvenience. Most babies are too young to communicate their distress or voice out their opinion on how they feel in their body. They can’t say “Doctor, I feel regurgitated or my mouth tastes bitter” The only way to communicate this feeling is by combining all those words in a roaring Research has proved that most babies cry a lot to signify symptoms of distress or gastroesophageal disease.
- Failure to Thrive: Indigestion caused by reflux of vital nutrients needed for healthy body metabolism, could lead to stunted growth in babies. This could be accompanied by esophagitis and other respiratory symptoms.
- Nasal congestion and hicupps: these are common symptoms of GERD patients irrespective of the age group. It is present in both infants and adults
- Heartburns: This is the most prevalent symptom of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, especially in adults. It is more frequent after a meal, mainly when patients lie down immediately of less than 3 hours post-prandial.
Is GERD Reflux?
Most people interchange these 2 medical terms together or get it confused due to their similarities. Acid reflux means reflux of acid from the esophagus to the stomach which could because my non-medical conditions; acid reflux often leads to GERD which is a medical disease and a severe form of acid reflux. They are similar but different because GERD is the strict version of acid reflux.
The main aim of gastro-esophageal reflux disease diets is to minimize the symptoms and reduce the frequency of symptoms such as heartburns, regurgitations, and hiccups. Diet and body weight plays a significant role in the presentation of GERD symptoms; most people have different triggers such as specific foods and drinks, some patients complain about heightened symptoms at the particular time of the day. There are some specific tips and guidelines that can help in minimizing these symptoms. These guidelines include:
- Meal Frequency: It has been discovered that Americans prefer to eat large meals instead of frequent smaller meals; this is why most people are predisposed to GERD. Increasing the feeding frequency helps in preventing various types of gastrointestinal tract diseases. The rule of thumb is to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortable; you don’t need to feel full before you finish Eating frequent smaller meals makes it easier for the body to digest the food and alleviate GERD symptoms.
- Reduce Dinner: reducing the amount of food you eat close to bedtime could reduce your GERD symptoms
- Avoid fatty foods: Fatty foods increase the tendency of a patient having heartburns and regurgitation.
- Reduce acidic foods and foods that make you bloat
- Do not eat 3 hours before bedtime or sleep 3 hours after eating.
GERD is a prevalent disease both in infants and adults; lifestyle changes can be used to manage this disease and helps in increasing the prognosis. Making some slight tweak to the way we live our lives can reduce the symptoms. Follow the tips above and see your GERD symptoms become part of your history.
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