Check Up: His throat is burning up
K. Jon emails Check Up saying that he is suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).
GERD is a very commonly occurring disorder these days. If you have a burning pain in your throat or chest, GERD is definitely a disorder to be considered.
GERD is a result of repeated back flow of stomach acid into the oesophagus, causing it to become swollen and painful.
The stomach has a special lining which prevents acid burn, but this lining is absent in the oesophagus. There is normally a stomach sphincter which shuts off backflow of the acid into the oesophagus, but when this becomes damaged, acid can flow backwards freely and this is especially so under certain conditions.
Symptoms of GERD will include:
- Sore throat or feeling like something is stuck in your throat.
- Chest pain, chest burn.
- Sour bile taste in the mouth.
- Regurgitation of food.
Conditions which are strongly associated with GERD are:
- Being overweight (fat around the abdomen presses on the stomach and causes acid backflow).
- Pregnancy (developing baby puts pressure on the stomach sphincter, causing acid backflow).
- Eating before sleeping (increasing stomach acid just before assuming prone position).
- Diet rich in onions, garlic, spices, fat, caffeine, citrus.
- Medications such as nitrates which treat heart conditions, antihistamines for colds and allergies, calcium channel blockers used in treatment of hypertension.
Other foods which can cause acid reflux include:
- Orange juice, grapefruit juice, lemonade, cranberry juice
- Ground beef, buffalo wings, chicken nuggets.
- Spaghetti with tomato sauce.
- Mashed potatoes, French fries
- Coffee, liqueurs.
- Chocolate, corn chips.
These foods cause your body to produce more acid to digest them than required with other foods!
Instead, try foods like
- Ripe bananas.
- Chicken and turkey - baked, grilled or sauteed.
- Celery and parsley.
- Brown rice, couscous, bulgar wheat.
- Sweet potatoes.
Take vitamin D supplements. They protect the oesophagus and help prevent GERD symptoms. Baking soda is also very useful in relieving symptoms. Add a spoonful of baking soda to a glass of clean water and drink it all down before the bubbles go flat!
Acupuncture and relaxation exercises also relieve symptoms of GERD.
Other lifestyle changes:
Get in shape Control GERD by keeping your weight down. Try to lose weight slowly so that it stays off!
Wear loose clothing Tight clothes will constrict your waist and pressures the stomach.
Eat less You will not only lose weight but your stomach will produce less acid!
Sit upright after meals No immediate napping! The increased acid present after a meal will quickly run back into the oesophagus if you lie down at that time.
Raise your bed head when you sleep to prevent acid flowing backwards.
Quit smoking - Please see your doctor urgently if you are experiencing chest pains, especially if you are diabetic or hypertensive, as heart disease can cause angina (heart pain).
Also, see your doctor if over-the-counter medications are not working or if you are experiencing diarrhoea or black stool.
The doctor will decide if further tests such as X-rays or endoscopy (looking down into the oesophagus and stomach) or ECG (to check out the heart if there is chest pain) are needed.
Write Check Up: PO Box 1731: Kgn 8