GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is also known as acid reflux disease. This disease mainly affects the stomach, esophagus, and larynx. In the normal digestion process, the food we eat goes down to the stomach through the esophagus or food pipe. From there, the food moves into the digestive tract. At the point where the lower part of the esophagus meets the stomach, a band of muscles called esophageal sphincter is present, which act like a flap and keeps the food contents inside the stomach. Due to some reasons, if these muscles get relaxed or weakened, then the flap opens up and allows the stomach acid and food to flow back into the esophagus and causes the acid reflux disease. GERD pain is a chronic kind of pain and can be felt in various parts of the body. The exact cause of this condition is not exactly known. However, certain factors like intake of spicy or fatty foods, obesity, pregnancy, hiatal hernia, smoking, etc., are some of the causes that tend to aggravate the symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of this health condition is pain. Most people complain about GERD pain during the night after lying down. Others may get it after eating a heavy or fatty meal. Initially, it starts as an abdominal pain and is felt in the upper part of the abdomen. As the stomach acid travels up the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the lining of the esophagus. It has a lot of similarity with the symptoms of a heart attack. Like in the case of a heart attack, this pain is centered at the middle of the chest and gives a tight feeling in this region. Similarly, the pain soon moves on to the arms and other parts. If you are getting GERD chest pain, it is essential that you confirm with your doctor, that it is not caused due to some cardiac problems.
There are various causes of back pain and GERD is one of them. Most often, the pain felt in the chest extends to the back and gives a localized backache that can spread from the neck to the lower back region. The characteristic of this backache is that it is not the usual burning sensation, but it is sharp and exerts pressure on the back muscles. Pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sore throat, hoarseness, trouble in swallowing, coughing, wheezing, regurgitation, acid taste in mouth, etc.
Pain Relief Methods
Usually, GERD pain lasts for two or three hours and in some serious cases it may continue for a longer period. It tends to recur from time to time. If you sense intense pain repeatedly or if it lasts for a long time, you should consult your doctor. To get relief from this, doctors prescribe medicines to treat the underlying disease. The common types of medicines that are used for the treatment are antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H-2-receptor blockers. Sometimes, medicines are prescribed to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter. If the medicines fail to bring relief and extensive damage has been caused to the esophagus, then surgery may be required to repair the stomach sphincter. If the pain is mild, you can try some acid reflux alternative treatment.
Recurrence of pain can be prevented with the help of changes in lifestyle and following the GERD diet. Any kind of acidic food, fried or fatty food, has to be excluded from the diet. Instead of large meals, smaller meals has to be taken. Eat your dinner two hours before bedtime. If you sense this pain at night very frequently, sleep with your head raised up to six inches with pillows. This will prevent the acid to move up. Those who smoke or drink alcohol have to quit these habits.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.