Breathing fire sounds cool in theory. (Dragons are lit.) But IRL, it’s the pits. Folks with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) know what we’re talking about.
GERD is a digestive disease that can cause chronic heartburn (among other annoying AF symptoms). Here are the deets.
|GERD symptoms in adults||GERD symptoms at night||GERD symptoms in babies||Foods to avoid with GERD||Activities to avoid with GERD||Over-the-counter (OTC) GERD medications|
|heartburn||heartburn||frequent vomiting||acidic fruits (e.g. citrus, tomatoes, or pineapple)||drinking alcohol||antacids like Rolaids, Tums, or Mylanta|
|vomiting||vomiting||gagging||caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks||smoking||proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Prevacid 24h, Nexium 24h, Prilosec, or Zegerid|
|issues or pain swallowing||trouble sleeping||trouble swallowing||fatty or fried foods||eating before bed||H2-blockers like Tagamet HB, Pepcid Complete, Axid AR, or Zantac|
|chest pain||chronic cough||wheezing||spicy food||overeating|
|bitter or acidic taste in your mouth||bitter or acidic taste in your mouth||coughing||mint|
|laryngitis (inflammation of your voice box)||refusal to eat||onions|
|trouble sleeping||arching their back during or after a feeding||garlic|
|colic (crying that lasts more than 3 hours)||chocolate|
Other symptoms may include:
- chest pain
- pain when swallowing
- trouble swallowing (aka dysphagia)
- a bitter or acidic taste in your mouth
Hit up your doctor if you also experience:
- chest pain
- chronic cough
- tooth erosions
- a raspy, hoarse voice
- globus sensation (when you feel a lump in your throat that isn’t really there)
These symptoms might be a sign of a more serious case of GERD or an underlying condition.
Babies are known to have yak attacks on the reg. Around 70 to 85 percent of 2-month-old bébés regurgitate daily. While it’s usually nothing to worry about, there are some GERD symptoms to look out for.
- refusal to eat
- frequent vomiting
- trouble swallowing
- arching their back during or after a feeding
FYI: Some of these symptoms can be a sign of tongue-tie. Your pediatrician can let you know what’s what.
Nighttime GERD symptoms are similar to daytime symptoms, but tend to be more intense. It also increases your risk of:
- a chronic cough
- trouble sleeping
This might be because:
- Gravity. It’s easier for stomach acid to come up when you’re lying down.
- Salvia. Spit, which helps neutralize stomach acid, isn’t produced as much at night.
- You swallow less at night. Swallowing can help push stomach acid back down.
Reminder: The most common GERD symptoms are heartburn and regurgitation. Other symptoms can include:
- dysphagia (trouble swallowing)
- odynophagia (painful swallowing)
- upper abdominal pain
- a bitter taste in the back of your mouth
To ease these symptoms, you can try an OTC option such as:
- Antacids to help neutralize stomach acid.
- H2 receptor blockers to reduce stomach acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce and block stomach acid production.
Your doc might prescribe a stronger medication if OTC treatments don’t do the trick.
Do I need surgery to heal GERD?
You may need surgery if your GERD symptoms don’t improve with OTC or Rx treatments.
Possible procedures include:
- Linx surgery. This works by strengthening the LES (lower esophageal sphincter) with magnetic beads.
- Fundoplication. This surgery reinforces and tightens the LES.
- Stretta Procedure. It can strengthen the LES muscle and block nerves from responding to acid.
- TIF (transoral incisionless fundoplication). A portion of your stomach is wrapped around the esophagus. This recreates the valve between your stomach and esophagus which can prevent acid reflux.
Certain foods can trigger a GERD flare-up. It varies from person-to-person, but common culprits include:
Researchers aren’t 10/10 sure why booze can increase your risk of GERD. But it might because:
- Certain alcohol — like beer or wine — can make you produce more gastric acid.
- Alcohol relaxes your muscles. This might make it easier for acid to creep up the esophagus.
Here’s how to avoid everybody in the club gettin GERD-y:
- Drink in moderation. Try to stick to one or two drinks max.
- Stay hella hydrated. Drink water every time you consume alcohol.
- Skip the sugary stuff. Mixers like soda, juice, or energy drinks are common GERD triggers.
- Don’t get schwifty before bed. Take your last sip at least 3 hours before you hit the hay.
Your chance of getting GERD goes up when your eggo is preggo. In fact, as many as 45 percent of pregnant peeps get frequent heartburn. This might be due to hormonal fluctuations (especially in the first trimester).
Some OTC antacids are safe to use during pregnancy. But you should def check with your doc first.
Here are some tips to keep your stress at bay:
- Meditate. Meditation is fab for reducing stress and anxiety.
- Journal. It’s a great way to release negative thoughts and feelings.
- Work it out. Exercise is good for your body and mind. It can reduce tension, improve your sleep, and make you feel less stressed.
- Talk to someone. Sometimes a solid vent sesh with a loved one can make you feel better. But you can also talk with a mental health specialist or try a mental health app.
Lots of folks dig OTC antacids, H2 receptor blockers, or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). But these options only provide temporary relief.
For long-term GERD, you might need to make some lifestyle changes. Here’s some top tips.
Keep it loose. Uber tight clothing can put extra pressure on the abdomen which can increase your risk of indigestion. So let it all hang out, honey.
Tweak your diet. Ditch drinks or foods that trigger your GERD. If you’re not sure which noms are to blame, keep a food diary or use an app. This helps you keep track of your symptoms.
There’s not a lot of research to prove herbal remedies can cure GERD 💯. But lots of folks have reversed the burn with:
- licorice root
- slippery elm
- marshmallow root
You can take them as a tincture, supplement, or tea.
PSA: Talk with your doc first! Some herbal remedies can interfere with medications you might already be taking.