Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Most individuals can manage gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD/GORD) through lifestyle changes or over the counter medication, however some may experience more severe effects of GERD and therefore require stronger medications or in advanced cases, surgery. In this article we discuss GERD in more detail, understanding the signs and symptoms to look out for, what treatment is available and some tips and advice on dealing with the condition.
Causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, or also known as GORD) occurs as a result of acid reflux with or without pain.
During swallowing and digestion, the LES (lower oesophageal sphincter) located at the bottom of the wind pipe extends to allow food and liquid to travel into our stomach and then closes again to avoid food coming back up the oesophagus. However, if the sphincter begins to weaken, acid from our stomach can creep back up into our oesophagus. This can cause irritation to the lining of our oesophagus and result in some uncomfortable symptoms.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease may occur as a result of the following conditions:
- High pressure within the stomach due to delayed emptying (gastroparesis) or consuming large quantities of food and drink
- High pressure from the abdominal area due to obesity or pregnancy
- Hiatus hernia where the stomach pushes up into the lower chest area creating a pouch
However, it’s also worth noting that some lifestyle factors can also play a role in triggering symptoms of GERD/GORD. These include:
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Stress and anxiety
• Consuming large meals or eating too late at night
• Taking specific medications such as, aspirin
• Eating particular foods that are too spicy, fatty or oily
It is recommended to speak to your GP or pharmacist if you’re experiencing symptoms of GERD/GORD.
Signs and Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
The common signs and symptoms include:
• Chest pain/heartburn
• Difficulty swallowing - swallowing difficulties, otherwise known as dysphagia, can arise as a result of the oesophagus becoming damaged and narrower when Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is significant.
• Feeling of a lump in your throat
• Unpleasant taste in your mouth due to stomach acid
• Bad breath
You may experience the following additional symptoms, particularly at night:
• Broken sleep (lying flat can make it easier for the acid to travel back up the oesophagus)
• Chronic cough If living with asthma, you may experience difficulties breathing
If you are experiencing symptoms of GERD/GORD, examples of some diet and lifestyle factors that are generally helpful are:
- Controlled weight loss
- Eating smaller volumes of food more often
- Avoid excessive use of coffee and alcohol
- Reduce or if possible avoid smoking
- Avoid lifting, lying or bending down after a meal
Treating Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
If you are frequently or severely experiencing symptoms of GERD/GORD, make an appointment with your doctor. The aim of treating gastroesophageal reflux disease is to help reduce reflux and reduce the damage to the oesophagus lining. Once the doctor has assessed your symptoms, they may initially advise over the counter medications or ask you to make some lifestyle changes.
If these symptoms still persist with treatment, then your doctor may require some further tests, this can include an endoscopy which involves inserting a tiny tube through the mouth, down the oesophagus and into the stomach with a camera attached on the end to assess the internal organs, signs of damage to or inflammation of the oesophagus lining or any other abnormalities.
In more severe cases, surgery may be required but this is in more extreme cases where the above treatments have proven unsuccessful.
How Can Wiltshire Farm Foods Help?
To help manage gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, a healthcare professional may have advised you to make changes to your diet.
This could include eating smaller portions more frequently when it comes to mealtimes. Our Mini Meal Extra range can provide you with the smaller manageable portions that you’re looking for but are still energy dense so you’re getting the same calories as a larger portion size.
You may also be advised to adopt a texture modified diet – this will help if you’re experiencing difficulties swallowing if your oesophagus becomes inflamed or narrower a result of GERD/GORD.
Our Softer Foods can help. Our range is full of delicious dishes full of flavours that you know and love. Our meals are available in Level 4 Puréed, Level 5 Minced and Level 6 Soft & Bite-Sized and are specially made for those experiencing swallowing difficulties. With over 85 dishes to choose from, we have something for each meal of the day.