Know Your Upper Digestive System

When you eat, food travels from your mouth to your stomach through a tube called oesophagus. At the lower end of the esophagus is a muscular ring called the lower oesophageal Sphincter (LES). The LES acts like a one-way door, allowing food to pass through to your stomach.

When you have GERD?

Smoking, pressure on the stomach and certain foods, medications or medical problems can weaken the LES, causing reflux, if this happens regularly it is called GERD (Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease). The constantly refluxing acids can irritate the oesophagus, causing burning, pressure or inflammation. Stomach acid may eventually damage the oesophagus.


GERD- more than Heartburn

You are familiar with a painful burning sensation in your chest after you eat, you may have Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). When you have GERD, you feel that stomach acid is backing up towards your mouth. Heartburn is a classic symptom of GERD, but you may also feel other symptoms as well.


Some Common Symptoms:

If you have GERD you may experience:

·         Frequent heartburn or heartburn at night.

·         Sour tasting fluid backing up towards your mouth.

·         Frequent need for antacids.

·         Frequent burping or belching.

·         Symptoms get worse after you eat, bend over or lie down.

·         Difficult or painful swallowing.

*** Chest pain caused by GERD may feel similar to that caused by heart problems, so be sure to have all chest pain evaluated by a doctor.


Your Evaluation

During your evaluation, your doctor may ask you questions about your symptoms and lifestyle and may also do some tests (such as X-ray, examination of the stomach through a tube called endoscope, or blood sample tests). This helps determine the cause of your symptoms and helps your doctor choose the best treatment for you.


Getting Relief

Lifestyle changes or medications often control GERD. Talk to your doctor about the following suggestions, which may help you get relief.


Watch Your Eating Habits

Certain foods may increase the acid in your stomach or relax the LES (Lower oesophageal Sphincter) making GERD more likely. It is best to avoid them. They include:

·         Carbonated drinks

·         Chocolates

·         Coffee, tea and cola drinks (with or without caffeine)

·         Fatty or spicy foods

·         Mint

·         Onion and tomatoes

·         Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol can make GERD more likely and make your symptoms worse.

Avoid any other foods that seem to irritate your stomach or cause pain.


Precautions to be taken by a GERD patients

·         Stop using tobacco in all forms, Nicotine weakens the lower oesophageal muscle.

·         Avoid chewing gum and hard candy. They increase the amount of swallowed air, which in turn leads to belching and reflux.

·         Do not lie down immediately after eating. Avoid late evening snacks.

·         Avoid medications which would make GERD worse.

·         Try raising the head of your bed 4 to 6 inches. Reflux is more likely to strike when you’re lying down flat, because stomach fluid can flow backwards more easily.

·         Avoid tight belt and tight fitting clothes. Eat small, frequent portions of food and snacks if needed.

·         Lose extra weight. Too much weight can put pressure on your abdomen and lead to reflux.



·         Make sure that the person takes in more of alkaline food (like fruits and vegetables that are lightly cooked) and very little of acidic food (spices, condiments, meat, fish, cheese, tea, coffee, chocolates, sodas and refined sugar). Pulses of all types are strictly prohibited. Avoid taking raw vegetables.

·         The infusion of coriander seeds (dhania) taken with sugar relieves acidity.

·         Add the juice of a lemon in a glass of warm water, to it add a pinch of black salt if possible. Divide it into three portions and take it after every meal. Do not gulp, sip slowly, (retain the juice in the mouth for some time.)

·         Boil half small sized cabbage in water, drain the water, cool it and then eat the cabbage twice a day for a few weeks. Also the juice extracted from raw cabbage taken in combination with carrot juice (in quantities of 125ml each) is one of the most effective home remedies for acidity.

·         Have mashed bananas mixed with milk for breakfast regularly for a few days.

·         Having boiled bottle gourd (Lauki) reduces acidity.

·         Have baked potatoes or raw potato juice everyday for few days.

·         Juice of pumpkin with sugar is useful. Take one cup daily.

·         Skimmed sweetened cold milk should be sipped between the meals and at bed time.

·         Turnip (Shalgam) juice is useful for stomach and duodenal ulcers, drink one cup daily cup for few months.



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