Do you experience a faint taste of acid on your tongue after you eat? Are you adding on a few pounds with a strange pain under your breastbone? Do you have a large meal then doze off on the couch? These occasional bouts of heartburn could be GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
GERD is a heartburn that results from a faulty valve between the esophagus and the stomach or the lower esophageal sphincter. Gastric juices from the stomach sneak back up into the esophagus and can damage the lining. Your extra pounds, pregnancy, or a hiatal hernia can put pressure on this valve and cause the valve to not work properly. Asthma can be aggravated by acid reflux and you can also develop ear, nose and throat disorders. To see if you are a GERD sufferer take this simple “Richter Scale/Acid Test” developed by gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
RICHTER SCALE/ ACID TEST:
1. Do you frequently have one or more of the following:
a. An uncomfortable feeling behind the breastbone that seems to be moving upward from the stomach?
b. A burning sensation in the back of your throat?
c. A bitter acid taste in your mouth?
1. Do you often experience theses problems after meals?
2. Do you experience heartburn or acid indigestion 2 or more times per week?
3. Do you find that antacids only provide temporary relief from your symptoms?
4. Are you taking prescription medication to treat heartburn, but still having symptoms?
If you said yes to two or more of the above, you may have GERD.
Lifestyle choices help to relieve symptoms of GERD. Losing weight, avoid overeating, do not lie down after a large meals, avoid spicy foods, fried foods, chocolate, coffee and tea, peppermint, colas, orange juice and alcohol. Raising the head of your bed can also decrease the amount of gastric contents that reflux.
If lifestyle changes alone do not relieve symptoms, you need to seek medical attention and possibly be placed on a prescription medication. Do not rely on antacids alone as they do not prevent long term damage to the esophagus. Heartburn can mask symptoms of other diseases such as a heart attack. Heartburn is common but should not be ignored. Consult your physician or specialists if your symptoms occur two or more times a week, especially if you still have symptoms after using over the counter medications.
American College of Gastroenterology; http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gerd/word.asp