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The Word on GERD

Acid reflux or heartburn sound familiar? We all feel a little uncomfortable from time to time, but if digestion disturbs you a little more than you'd like, you may want to learn a few facts about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

So, what exactly does GERD do to the body? GERD is a digestive disease that shows symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. When stomach acid comes up into your food pipe, the lining becomes irritated - that just sounds painful!

The difference with GERD is that it is a chronic disease, meaning it happens at least twice a week or keeps you from doing daily activities. To find out if you should visit your doc for GERD, check out some of these common symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms

This backwash of acid can certainly be uncomfortable, so read over this list to see if your uncured symptoms could be GERD:

  • Heartburn-like feeling (burning sensation in the chest)
  • Acid reflux (regurgitating food or liquid)
  • Sour taste
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Feeling of "a lump in your throat"

These signs are all common of acid reflux and heartburn, so you should keep track of how often you're feeling these undesired indicators - frequency is an important factor of GERD.

If they're happening more often or interrupting your day-to-day activities, you may want to get checked out. There are plenty of heartburn medications you can get over-the-counter, but if you take them more than twice in a week, it's time visit your doc.

This Sounds Like Me - What Should I Do?

Make an appointment to see your doctor so you can lay out all of your symptoms. We all think we're prepared when we talk with the doctor, but if you're like me, you get home and forget to ask the most important question you had. To avoid all of that nonsense, write down your questions ahead of time. As always, bring a list of all the medications you're taking.

To control your symptoms while waiting to get in to your doctor's office, make some simple lifestyle changes. See if you can pin down what type of foods trigger your symptoms, and avoid them for a little while. You can also try skipping snacks two hours before bedtime to fend off any nighttime troubles.

Uh Oh - The Word is GERD

If your doctor does diagnose you with GERD, fear not. Many cases can be managed with over-the-counter products and medication. Here are some day-to-day changes you can make to supplement your doctor's orders:

Avoid Trigger Foods
You'll soon learn what sets off your symptoms, so avoid those mean munchies to feel your best. Lots of people feel the effects from fatty or fried foods, alcohol, tomato sauce, or onions.

Move It!
Extra flab presses on your belly, and that pressure can force acid up into the food pipe. If you're overweight, losing some excess pounds may help your symptoms.

Eat Smaller Meals
Big lunches and heavy dinners may not be the best for GERD. Avoid overeating and eat smaller meals throughout the day.

Bye Bye Tight-Fitting Clothes
Anything that fits too tight around your waist puts pressure on your belly (similar to fat like we talked about above).

Whether you have GERD or just sporadic cases of acid reflux or heartburn, these tips can help you avoid the discomfort of digestion distress. Remember to see your doctor if problems become more frequent or interrupt your lifestyle. Avoid trigger foods and follow the word of your doctor to keep GERD under control.

Last Updated: 6/4/2013