I was in 12th standard when I was first diagnosed with GERD. I was petrified to eat anything without taking a pill which causes unbearable sensations in my stomach.
But why was it happening? Well, it took me some time to understand, but it was because of my heavy medicines. Over the years, I did take medicine every day, and I hated those pills.
Over the years, I realised that the medicine was not healing me. It was surely covering my symptoms but was not helping in curing the disease. It was harming me.
I comprehended that conquering my stomach acid was keeping me out of all the nutrients, and that was because of the medicines.
The only thing I knew, I did not want to be medicated forever. Hence, I read several books and dozens of articles. My nutritionist also suggested to me what to consume. I started making changes in my lifestyle, and it helped me in recovering well.
But, let us first understand what exactly GERD is and how you can identify it in yourself.
GERD is a digestive disorder that infects the muscle ring between the oesophagus and stomach. And that ring is known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
In case you are suffering from GERD, you might face acid indigestion and heartburn. Some doctors believe that people suffer from GERD due to stomach hernia, which is a condition in which stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscle.
But in most cases, you can simplify your GERD symptoms through lifestyle changes and diet. Some people will require surgery and a heavy dose of medicine.
What are GERD Causes?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid flows back frequently into the tube that is connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus).
Under normal situations, your LES opens so that food can flow into your stomach. Further, it closes to stop food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the oesophagus.
But in Gastroesophageal reflux, what happens is that LES is weak and does not relax when it should. This way, stomach content flows up into the oesophagus.
What are GERD Symptoms?
The most usual symptom of GERD is heartburn, i.e. indigestion. It feels like chest pain, and your breastbone has moved to your throat. Many people felt like food was coming to their mouth, which left a bitter taste.
The pain of heartburn can last for 2 hours. It gets worse after eating. The only solution is to stand straight so that acid gets cleared out of the oesophagus.
It is advisable to not consider heartburn pain for heart attack; there is a major difference. In case you are unable to identify, get in touch with a doctor for better clarification.
Besides normal pain, these are a few symptoms I feel -
Bad Breath, Nausea, Vomiting, Lump in Throat, Trouble in Breathing, Asthma, and Sleeping Problems.
What is the best GERD Treatment?
Here are a few GRED treatments and home remedies that you can consider -
- H2 Blockers - The doctor recommends medications to reduce acid in the stomach. The medicines include H2 blockers, which blocks acid secretion in the stomach. The blocker includes nizatidine, cimetidine, and famotidine.
- Prokinetics - These drugs help to clear your stomach quickly so that you do not have much acid left behind. They also have symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and bloating.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors - Proton Pump Inhibitors are also known as acid pumps since they block a protein to make stomach acid.
While all this was happening, I finally thought of curing my disease. Here are a few things that worked for me. It is a reflection of what I have learned in my journey to healing my body.
1. Drink Water Before Your Meals
When we drink liquid during a meal, we dilute our stomach acid and fill up our stomach too much, which puts pressure on the LES. The LES is the muscle that stops the food from going back to our oesophagus.
Hence, drinking warm water before a meal helped me.
2. Chew Your Food Well - This simple technique can fasten our digestive process. The enzymes in our mouth help us in our digestive process. Hence, if we swallow our food, we miss that step, which becomes harder for the stomach to break down our food.
3. Eliminate Trigger Foods
Gluten and dairy foods are known as Trigger Foods. For others, it can be fried food or coffee. But, in my case, ice cream, milk, cream, yoghurt, cheese, milkshakes triggered my symptoms the most.
Every time I ate them,I felt like puking, and this is not normal. Initially, I was too self-conscious to talk about it because it is gross. But, after some time, I found healthier and better ways to live my life without consuming dairy products.
Gluten disturbs the healthy bacteria balance in the gut and can trigger digestive irritation, like reflux. Hence, cutting down on gluten can reduce gas and bloat.
4. Filled my Digestive System with Probiotics - The healthy bacteria in the digestive system need to be fed properly so that our body remains healthy. This is very much true for those who have taken numerous antibiotics and have wiped out all the bacteria.
Consuming a probiotic daily helped me profoundly.
5. Relax your muscles with Magnesium - Magnesium helps play a crucial role in relaxing the muscles, including the one in the digestive system. I was short of magnesium, and I started taking it in my diet; it helped me thoroughly.
6. Soothe with Aloe
Sometimes, if my stomach is upset or if I overeat, I like to soothe it with aloe vera. A lot of people shared their experiences on how Aloe Vera has healed their digestive issues. You can mix it with water or any other beverage.
Although GERD can put a halt to your daily activities, it’s rarely life-threatening. You can get proper treatment after understanding the causes well. Most importantly, eat healthily and fight GERD with a positive approach.Authored by: Smriti
About the Author: Smriti is an expert dietitian and nutritionist. She is a post graduate in Nutrition and Diet Planning from All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS). She strongly believes in Ayurvedic remedies.