What is GER?
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus. Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion. Doctors also refer to GER as. acid indigestion, acid reflux, acid regurgitation, heartburn reflux. Having GER once in a while is common.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious and long-lasting form of GER.
What is the difference between GER and GERD?
GER that occurs more than twice a week for a few weeks could be GERD. GERD can lead to more serious health problems over time. If you think you have GERD, you should see your doctor.
Symptoms of GER and GERD?
If you have gastroesophageal reflux (GER), you may taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth. The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn. The most common GERD symptoms are
- Bad breath
- Pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen
- Problems swallowing or painful swallowing
- Respiratory problems
- Wearing away of teeth
Some symptoms of GERD come from its complications, including those that affect your lungs.
Causes of GER and GERD?
GER and GERD happen when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, causing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes due to certain things, such as
- Increased pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant.
- Certain medication including, medicine used to treat asthma, calcium channel blockers—medicines that treat high blood pressure, antihistamines—medicines that treat allergy symptoms, painkillers, sedatives—medicines that help put you to sleep, antidepressants —medicines that treat depression
- smoking, or inhaling secondhand smoke
How to Prevent GERD
You can prevent or relieve your symptoms from gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by changing your diet. You may need to avoid certain foods and drinks that make your symptoms worse. Other dietary changes that can help reduce your symptoms include
- Decreasing fatty foods
- Eating small, frequent meals instead of three large meals
What to avoid eating if you have GER or GERD
Avoid eating or drinking the following items that may make GER or GERD worse: chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy or spicy foods, tomatoes and tomato products, alcoholic drinks.
What can you eat if you have GER or GERD?
Eating healthy and balanced amounts of different types of foods is good for your overall health. If you’re overweight or obese, talk with your doctor or a dietitian about dietary changes that can help you lose weight and decrease your GERD symptoms.
Treatment for GER & GERD
How do you control GER and GERD?
You may be able to control gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by
- Not eating or drinking items that may cause GER, such as greasy or spicy foods and alcoholic drinks
- Avoid overeating
- Do not eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
- Losing weight if you’re overweight or obese
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- Taking over-the-counter medicines.
How do doctors treat GERD?
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medicines, surgery, or a combination.
Making lifestyle changes can reduce your GER and GERD symptoms. You should
- Lose weight, if needed.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing around your abdomen. Tight clothing can squeeze your stomach area and push acid up into your esophagus.
- Stay upright for 3 hours after meals. Avoid reclining and slouching when sitting.
- Sleep on a slight angle. Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by safely putting blocks under the bedposts. Just using extra pillows will not help.
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
Prescription medicines and over-the-counter pills
You can buy many GERD medicines without a prescription. However, if you have symptoms that will not go away, you should see your doctor. All GERD medicines work in different ways. You may need a combination of GERD medicines to control your symptoms. The common medication offered are. Antacids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), prokinetics, antibiotics.
Your doctor may recommend surgery if your GERD symptoms don’t improve with lifestyle changes or medicines. You’re more likely to develop complications from surgery than from medicines. We have an extensive article that covers more on this area and you can find it here.