Are stress and anxiety triggers for GERD and acid reflux?


 Stress and anxiety can contribute to acid reflux and GERD. Similar to other risk factors, stress and anxiety should be dealt with appropriately by seeking extra help from a counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. 10-20% of the western population and around 5% of the Asian people suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD treatments near me should always be in our head to ensure that we will act immediately in seeking medical attention.   

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disease characterized by the reflux or backflow of the stomach content. The nature and the environment within our stomach are acidic. The food materials within the stomach will mix with the acidic gastric juice as a part of the digestive process. The backflow of the acidic stomach content will result in certain symptoms and if continue for a certain duration will result in the development of certain diseases like gastroesophageal reflux disease and Barrett’s oesophagus. 

  Heartburn and regurgitation are the top two symptoms experienced by patients. Both are classic symptoms of this disease. Heartburn is frequently described as a burning sensation in the mid-chest. Heartburn mostly happens after the meal. Heartburn is considered serious if you have it for two or more days a week. Even if you have it only once a week, you should seek medical consultation. Regurgitation, on the other hand, is described as the feeling or episode of reflux of the stomach contents into the mouth.

  Other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease are:

  • Pain during swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Perception of a lump within your throat

  Like other diseases, history taking, physical examination, and investigations are needed to formulate a diagnosis and to detect the underlying causes. A treatment plan can be started only after a diagnosis is made. Before we discuss the investigations, let’s go through the alarming symptoms. Alarming symptoms are symptoms that pointing towards stomach cancer and telling all of us that we are not dealing with simpler conditions like GERD. The symptoms are:

  • New episodes of dyspepsia among patients with the age of 60 years old or older
  • Evidence of bleeding from the stomach or intestines
  • Anaemia
  • Anorexia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain during swallowing
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Family history of stomach cancer

  The investigations for gastroesophageal reflux disease are:

  • Blood studies
  • Digestive tract endoscopy
  • X-ray
  • Oesophageal manometry
  • Ambulatory oesophagal pH monitoring

  GERD can progress to Barrett’s oesophagus and subsequently into cancer. The risk factors to develop Barrett’s oesophagus are:

  • GERD for more than 5 years
  • 50 years of age or older
  • Male
  • White race
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Family history of Barrett’s oesophagus

  Other diseases that may mimic GERD are:

  • Pill esophagitis
  • Infectious esophagitis
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis

  Other diseases that cause a person to have pain during swallowing are:

  • Oesophagal rings
  • Oesophagal webs
  • Motility disorder
  • Oesophagal stricture
  • Oesophagal cancer

  Once a diagnosis is confirmed as GERD, a treatment plan will be carried out. The treatment is highly influenced by the frequency and severity of the symptoms. The two components for treating GERD are:

  • Lifestyle and diet intervention
  • Medications

  Lifestyle modifications and diet intervention will require a patient to:

  • Cut down weight
  • Exercise 
  • Eliminate caffeine, fat, spicy food, and carbonated drinks
  • Avoid tight garments
  • Stop smoking and alcohol intake
  • Abdominal breathing exercises

  The medications are:

  • H2 blockers
  • Antacids Proton pump inhibitors
  • Sucralfate and alginates

  GERD treatments near me should always be in our minds to make sure that we take the right decision in managing our health. 

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