GERD: When Acid Reflux Becomes A Chronic & Damaging Issue

May 19, 2023
GERD: When Acid Reflux Becomes A Chronic & Damaging Issue

If you have experienced heartburn, a burning sensation in your upper chest, it is a sign of acid reflux. While not an alarming sign, it can be a warning sign of a more severe issue if it happens chronically or a couple of times weekly.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease, most commonly known as GERD, is a condition that happens when our stomach contents flow back up into our oesophagus, the long tube that connects our mouth to our stomach.


In this post, we will explore the risk associated with developing GERD as well as how to prevent and treat it.


What is GERD, and how does it happen?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, most commonly known as GERD, is a condition that happens when our stomach contents flow back up into our oesophagus, the long tube that connects our mouth to our stomach.


Reflux is very common. Individuals can experience up to an hour of reflux a day and not feel the effects. It only becomes problematic if it results in symptoms such as heartburn, which is a burning sensation felt around the mid to upper chest region.


Heartburn symptoms are not life-threatening in themselves and they often go away on their own. However, persistent or frequent symptoms of heartburn over many years can be a sign of erosive oesophagitis. This occurs when recurrent episodes of acid reflux damage the oesophageal lining. Over many years, this can lead to something called Barrett’s oesophagus and also increase one’s risk of oesophageal cancer.


Symptoms of GERD include acid regurgitation, difficulty in swallowing, nausea, sore throat, hoarseness, teeth erosion, ear infections, wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough.


Some factors that increase our risk of developing GERD include the following:


  • Pregnancy


  • Smoking


  • Consumption of certain medications, such as alendronate, iron salts, ibuprofen, prazosin, salbutamol, nifedipine, and codeine


  • Ageing


  • Obesity


  • Over-eating and consumption of carbonated drinks or spicy food


Heartburn symptoms are associated with other conditions such as depression, or anxiety.


What is the treatment process for GERD?

Gastroenterology treatment of GERD usually starts with modifying of current lifestyle before administering medication. However, we do understand that certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, can be hard.


The most effective medication for GERD are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and potassium competitive acid blockers (PCAB) are administered to inhibit the production of and decrease the amount of gastric acid produced in your stomach, allowing the oesophageal lining to heal.


PPI’s can be bought over the counter and are considered highly effective and safe. They are to be consumed once daily, 30 minutes before meals, for two weeks. Some side effects associated with PPIs are slight nausea, headache, stomach pain, and diarrhoea symptoms.


Other types of medicative treatment include:


  • Alginates and antacids: To be consumed after meals and before sleeping, a maximum of four times daily; alginates protect our gut from our stomach acid by forming a barrier, while antacids neutralise our gastric acid.


  • Histamine-2 receptor antagonists: Examples of such medication includes ranitidine, famotidine, and cimetidine. Depending on which you get, you have to take them once to twice daily and 30 minutes to an hour before meals. They help to reduce the production of gastric acid.


How to prevent GERD from developing?

  • Posture: Avoid lying down straight after eating, especially heavy meals. For young children and infants, positioning them upright for 20 to 30 minutes after feeding helps prevent GERD from developing.


  • Diet: Avoid eating too much in a day by having smaller but frequent meals. Avoid consuming any food at least three hours before you sleep. Avoid foods that trigger specific symptoms.


  • Smoking: Smoking boosts stomach acid production, reducing and damaging your body’s natural defence against acid reflux. Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent GERD from developing. However, if quitting is not possible, then avoid smoking immediately after eating.


  • Weight management: Obesity is found to boost GERD development by up to 2 times. Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising and observing a healthy diet helps to reduce or prevent GERD symptoms.



Most GERD patients do not end up developing severe complications if they treat it effectively. However, the thing about GERD is that other more severe medical conditions do mimic GERD symptoms. As such, it is vital that you visit a doctor or a gastroenterologist near you to ensure a proper diagnosis is made.


At GUTCARE, our team of medical professionals offer a plethora of gut-related treatment services, from treating vomiting symptoms to severe ones, such as pancreas cancer symptoms. Whether you are experiencing the occasional heartburn or GERD, our gastroenterologists are able to provide a clear diagnosis of your symptoms, assuring you with peace of mind.


Click here to make an appointment with us today!





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