There can be no sensation quite as uncomfortable and difficult to tolerate as struggling with a burning sensation in the throat accompanied by chest pain. These are a few of the symptoms that are quite common for sufferers of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Today I am going to teach you more about what GERD is and give you 4 tips you can include as part of your lifestyle modifications that can help you find relief and better manage your discomfort.
GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disease that affects the lower esophageal sphincter known as the LES. The LES is responsible for allowing food to pass through the esophagus and enter into the stomach where it can be digested. When the LES becomes weakened the contents from the stomach can flow back up into the esophagus.
Common Signs & Symptoms
- Burning Sensation in the chest
- Chest Pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Food regurgitation
- Feeling as though there is a lump in your throat
- A chronic cough
- Sleep interruptions
Causes & Risk Factors
Factors that can lead to the development of GERD are:
- A hiatal Hernia
- Delayed Stomach Emptying
Health issues that can arise due to GERD are
- Narrowing of the esophagus
- Open sores or ulcers in the esophagus
- An Increased Risk of Esophageal Cancer
As with any disorder or health issue working with your healthcare professional and getting proper testing and diagnosis, and following their recommendations is the first step in properly managing and taking care of your condition. In addition to working with your health care professional, there are a few lifestyle changes and modifications that you can make that can work to help decrease symptoms and aid in your better managing your condition.
Understand Your Food Triggers
Keeping a food journal and tracking symptoms so that you know what foods irritate you and cause symptoms to occur as well as to know, what time of day your symptoms become common and occur. Knowing what triggers flare-ups will help you identify foods that you will need to eliminate. Common trigger foods that are known to aggravate and contribute to GERD symptoms are:
- High Fat Foods
- Spicy Foods
- Citrus Fruits
Avoid Eating Meals Late at Night Before Bed
Most GERD symptoms occur during the night and become bothersome when trying to go to sleep. Try consuming meals 2-3 hours before you go to bed so that your body has the time it needs to properly digest food. Eating smaller meals while focusing on slowly chewing food also helps to improve the digestive process.
Improve Healthy Habits
There are lifestyle factors that can contribute and increase symptoms associated with GERD. Things such as smoking, and not maintaining a healthy body weight. Cutting smoking and using nutrition and exercise to maintain a healthy body weight can also help to decrease symptoms.
Adjust How You Sleep
If you find that you have acid reflux issues more commonly in the night during your sleep. Adjusting the head of your bed by 6-9 inches or sleeping on a specially designed wedge will aid in allowing gravity to prevent stomach contents from flowing back up the esophagus. Using pillows to prop up your head is not as effective since this method actually places more pressure on the stomach and contributes to stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus.
It is important that you schedule an appointment with your healthcare professional if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect that you may have GERD. There are tests and recommendations that your health care professional will administer and advise for you in order to aid in decreasing and managing symptoms. Work with your doctor and make sure that you record and track your symptoms and how you respond to dietary changes and lifestyle modifications so they will know what next steps need to be taken in order for you to receive relief.
Schedule Your FREE Discovery Session
Do you struggle with a chronic health condition? Do you want to learn more about how you can decrease chronic health disease and conditions? If this is you I invite you to schedule a FREE Discovery Session where I can help you create health and wellness goals that will help you prevent the onset of chronic health disease, or manage your current chronic health condition without restrictive dieting, or calorie counting. Let’s talk more about transforming your health with Wellness Coaching.