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  • Writer's pictureBrian Dooreck MD

Treating Heartburn and GERD

Updated: Jul 24, 2023


IBD, Crohn's, UC, gas bloating, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system, see your gastroenterology doctor or gastroenterologist

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes or does not close properly, and stomach contents reflux into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach, preventing food and acid from flowing back into the esophagus.


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How is GERD different from Heartburn?

GERD differentiates from heartburn in that GERD is a form of acid reflux as opposed to heartburn and exists in a chronic state. In contrast, heartburn tends to be more temporarily manifested as a slight burning sensation in the chest or throat associated with regurgitation or indigestion.


IBD, Crohn's, UC, gas bloating, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system, see your gastroenterology doctor or gastroenterologist
A burning sensation in the throat is a common symptom of GERD.

What are the causes of GERD and Heartburn?

The cause of heartburn is usually based on your diet, specifically your intake of fatty or acidic foods. This means heavy consumption of spicy foods, citrus fruits, chocolates, alcohol, and other related foods. Meanwhile, GERD is primarily caused by an over-relaxing or weakened sphincter, as this allows a constant acid backwash to cause inflammation. This can also be worsened by an improper diet comprising the same foods that lead to heartburn.


How are they treated?


Heartburn is much easier to treat than GERD; there are accessible over-the-counter antacids that can efficiently treat heartburn. Additionally, general diet changes can prevent recurring heartburn; lying down while experiencing heartburn can help alleviate pain.


If you smoke, quit. Weight loss and smaller meals may help. Wear loose-fitting clothes and avoid lying down for 3 hours after a meal. Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting blocks of wood under the bed; extra pillows alone will not help. Depending on how severe your GERD is, treatment involves the above lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.


Here's a video on GERD titled "Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD): Treatments" by Cleveland Clinic


Treating GERD or recurring Heartburn is Important

Recurring Heartburn left untreated can lead to more significant health issues and can develop into GERD. Some consequences of not treating your GERD or Heartburn are long-term inflammation of the throat, chronic scarring, and even esophageal cancer. If you are experiencing heartburn multiple times a week, talk to your doctor before making any treatment decisions.


IBD, Crohn's, UC, gas bloating, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system, see your gastroenterology doctor or gastroenterologist
Always talk to your doctor first.

Personally


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.


"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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