This week we do a sit back, driving episode about GERD. We discuss what it is... acid reflux lol. Why it happens, how to diagnose, how to treat it and what things to avoid to help with it. In this episode, we discuss everything off the top of our heads with a fun, quick spin.
GERD = heartburn = acid reflux = the formal name Gastroesophageal reflux. It's basically the acidic contents that come up from your stomach (since your stomach produces acid) and into the esophagus which can irritate the lining around the esophagus leading to symptoms. It's very common and you hear people talking about heart burn all the time but some are more severe then others having to undergo testing and medical treatment!
Symptoms can range from a burning sensation to literally a pain that feels like you're having a heart attack! We kid you not... It also may not necessarily feel like the typical acid reflux, sometimes can present as a nighttime cough, chest pain, an acidic aftertaste, among others.
Triggers include spicy foods like hot sauce, foods high in citrus like orange juice or grapefruits, stress and even caffeine in some people. By the way, smoking, drinking or eating late at night can also aggravate these symptoms. There are many many triggers but we won't get into that here. The symptoms can also occur sporadically, twice a week, once a month or every day. So there's a lot of variations to this disease.
If you have any of the symptoms we just talked about and especially, if they don't subside without avoiding the triggers you should go see your physician so you can get an accurate diagnosis. Some people are at higher risk for GERD such as those who are pregnant, have a hernia, are obese, etc.
There are different diagnostic studies that people undergo and sometimes you try to go directly straight to the treatment to see if that helps with your symptoms and if they do the diagnosis can be made that way. But they do testing to rule out other causes like for example, asthma or to look for complications like ulcers or strictures. These diagnostic studies may include doing an endoscopy which is when they put a tube down your throat with a camera so they can actually see what's going on or pH testing to check for the acid levels basically. Other tests may be an X-ray or manometry studies (to assess the contractions within your esophagus because if your sphincter isn't working properly that can cause back up of acidic contents).
So moving along to personal experiences. We both have them. Adelynn had only symptoms of a cough that was worse at night with some phlegm that would come up. GROSS but we're all professionals here so we want you to get the true experience haha. She saw an ENT who went and took a look with the camera and noticed that she had some swelling around her pharynx which predisposes you to GERD. They gave her a trial of this medication that is in the PPI family which literally stands for proton pump inhibitor. You may have heard of these like, omeprazole or Prilosec. Well anywho, the treatment worked and her symptoms got way better! (Side note: this can be diagnosed by a gastroenterologist or even your primary care physician, as well).
For my personal experience, I opted for the infamous chicken and rice when I was a teenager. If you haven't had it, it's basically a food stand outside the Hilton in NYC and I ate so much of it because it's soooo good! It's a fatty meal, full of oil and is spicy as well. The full shebang of predisposing factors in one shot. Anyways, I went to sleep like two hours after eating it and and woke up with chest pain where I can only sit in certain positions otherwise, my chest pain would get worse. Everyone kind of laughed it off, but it was ache-like that was affected by position and subsided on its own within a few days.
For another experience that's not our own but we have a friend... not name dropping because it's confidential but she was pregnant and all of a sudden started experiencing the typical heartburn symptoms, which can go away after pregnancy (likely due to the pressure the baby can put on your stomach... thanks baby).
Moving along to the Treatment? Lifestyle modifications is key (avoid foods that make it worse, be aware of what you put into your body). Some people can take Tums (which is an antacid) to alleviate their symptoms but others need to take Pepcid (which is an H2 receptor blocker basically reduces acid production) yet others need to get a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor, like Prilosec (which blocks acid production and work to heal your esophageal tissue). These trial runs are very important in this disease. You can then go further and take a scope or do imaging to look for other causes that can cause acid reflux.. and some may require surgical procedures. We're not trying to scare you so we won't get into this because common things are common and uncommon things are uncommon.
Secret Tips if you do exhibit these symptoms:
You know we love everything in moderation so try to cut back on the following:
1. Avoid Spicy and fatty foods
2. Avoid drinks that trigger it, like I love orange juice and caffeine so I won't give it up but if this is causing it then cut. it. out..
3. Quit smoking (the only one on this list that you for sure want to stop completely)
4. Don't lay down right away after eating, technically you want to eat about 4 hours before going to sleep
5. Know your genetics (are you predisposed)
6. Eat your food slowly, which is hard for some of us... we get it we also love food
7. See a doctor if you have concerning symptoms that don't resolve... always better safe than sorry
There are other things that can happen with longstanding GERD but that is for another episode.. Anyways that's all for this week! Stay healthy and avoid the things that make your symptoms worse. Don't forget to leave us feedback, rate, review, subscribe and send in your questions so we can continue to improve as well as, provide you high quality content!
Disclaimer: The Content on our podcast/website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.