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Acid indigestion or GERD - all you need to know about it

About

Acid reflux (heartburn) is a common condition presenting itself as burning pain in the lower chest area. This happens when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux disease is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

More than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month. GERD affects 20-30% of the population.

▪ GERD is usually a lifestyle disease
▪ Cannot always be prevented

If left untreated, GERD can complicate into serious conditions such as Esophagitis, Strictures, or Barrett's esophagus in the long run. A case of GERD that is not preventable is a hiatal (or hiatus) hernia. Hiatus is a hole in the diaphragm that allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity, sometimes leading to GERD.

Causes
▪ Obesity
▪ Smoking
▪ Low levels of physical exercise
▪ Medications, including drugs for asthma, calcium-channel blockers, antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, and antidepressants
▪ Pregnancy

Age affected
Affects all ages.

Symptoms

Self-diagnosable
▪ Heartburn, regurgitation, and dyspepsia
▪ A sensation of a lump in the throat
▪ Difficulty in swallowing
▪ Bloating, bloody or black stools, vomiting, burping, hiccups that don't ease up, nausea, and esophageal dysphagia.

Treatment

If acid indigestion symptoms occur more than twice a week, GERD is indicated.

Self-care
▪ Quit smoking
▪ Reduce caffeine intake
▪ Eat smaller meals
▪ Avoid eating late
▪ Avoid medications that irritate

Medication
PPIs, H2 blockers, antacids, and alginate drugs may be prescribed.

Specialists
Patients can consult a general physician or a gastroenterologist. mfine features a massive list of specialties and specialists for the easy access and help of patients.

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