Spreading The Word About GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and acid reflux are often used together, but are two totally different things. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night gasping for air because of an obstruction in your airway due to a thick liquid like substance sitting there, followed by a lot of coughing, burning in your throat, and sometimes vomiting, then congratulations, you’ve just undergone a severe form of acid reflux. Harvey, tell the good reader what they’ve won!
Let’s start from the beginning shall we?
Okay…too far back. Fast forward a smidge.
Your body produces something called stomach acid, which helps digest the food you put in it. On occasion, the acidic contents in your stomach will flow back up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube or tract that connects the mouth to the stomach. This is called acid reflux.
No no…not Snuffleupagus. E-soph-a-gus.
Imagine you are eating a large dinner with your dysfunctional Italian family. Your grandmother is throwing cannolis at anyone who dares enter her kitchen, your cousin Guido is discussing the shoe front business with your uncle Rocko, Olive Garden music is playing over the thirty year old radio, and everyone is wearing a suit and tie with the exception of Mario and Luigi who claim they are there to save a princess and are somehow doing it by wearing plumbing overalls…all in all, a typical Sunday afternoon. After your seventh meatball which you swear you saw chasing Indiana Jones in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you feel a little pain in your chest accompanied by a very unpleasant taste in your mouth. Realizing you didn’t accidentally drink vinegar, you discover you were just the victim of acid reflux.
Acid reflux happens to a lot of people and the occasional acid reflux is not cause for concern. Repeated acid reflux is a symptom of a much larger problem, GERD. Having that acid in the esophagus on a regular basis is not good for you and can cause severe health problems. Scarring could occur for example causing strictures which in turn cause swallowing to become difficult.
I have severe acid reflux and have had to make a few changes to my lifestyle to help minimize the problem. It was either that or wake up every night gasping as I’ve described above while I try to cough out the acid that has come up my esophagus and gone down my breathing tube while I was asleep. It was honestly a no-brainer.
“The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.”
I’ve listed a few things below which have helped me out. Feel free to take notes.
1. If you drink coffee like I do, stick to one or two cups and drink them in the morning, not afternoon or evening.
2. Eat dinner before 6 PM and do NOT eat anything else afterwards, especially if you go to bed early.
3. Use two or three pillows to prop yourself up at night.
4. Avoid spicy and hot food.
5. Drink plenty of water.
6. When you overeat, pop a Prilosec an hour before bed. Prilosec is an over the counter / nonprescription pill that is a proton pump inhibitor, which reduces the amount of stomach acid your body makes.
7. Eat smaller portions and healthier foods.
8. Lose weight if you are overweight.
9. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol when possible.
10. Watch plenty of Star Trek. Okay, that’s pushing it. Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, and Back to the Future are acceptable as well.
Some of these are obviously more difficult to do than others but they can be done. The only time I have severe acid reflux now is when I’m an idiot and eat late because my taste buds are craving pizza and mozzarella sticks, but that’s my own damn fault. The rest of the time I’ve managed to stay acid reflux free.
There you have it folks. The next time someone asks you what the word on the street is, you’ll be able to respond with confidence that GERD, is indeed, the word.
It never did.