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Acid Reflux or GERD? Take it Seriously

Acid reflux happens when acid that is normally contained in the stomach flows back up into the oesophagus, throat, and mouth. It typically occurs when the valve that separates the oesophagus/food pipe and stomach, (called the lower esophageal sphincter), opens temporarily to help vent gas from the abdomen.

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Acid Reflux and GERD- Meenu Arora's Blog
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Illustration

When acid reflux becomes prolonged and chronic, it may induce GERD- Gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is the condition when semi-digested food in your tummy persistently moves back up into your oesophagus. These contents sometimes contain excessive acid & irritate the food pipe.

On the other hand, if you experience acid reflux, indigestion, or hyperacidity from time to time, it may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Untreated prolonged reflux disease is bound to become complicated, so let’s arm ourselves with full information about its symptoms, causes, and treatments.


  • Aspiration- It is the condition where food rises up the food pipe and enters the windpipe, coming down into the lungs.  
  • Chronic cough or hoarseness( a permanent lump in the throat). 
  • Difficulty in swallowing- Quality of life is impaired as the patient cannot eat.
  • Oesophagitis– Severe inflammation of the oesophagus causing bleeding and ulcers in the food pipe.
  • Barrett oesophagus- A precancerous condition called Barrett’s oesophagus(lesions in the oesophagus) can develop after years of untreated acid reflux or GERD. If not treated on time, these lesions can become cancerous. 

Symptoms of Acid Reflux or GERD

Acid Reflux and GERD- Meenu Arora's Blog

The most common symptoms of GERD are:-

  • a burning feeling in the stomach that moves to your chest and throat
  • a sour taste at the back of your mouth
  • Upward movement of liquid from your stomach into the mouth
  • chronic cough
  • PND- the feeling of a lump in the throat, the urge to clear it constantly
  • a hoarse voice
  • bad breath
  • Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)
  • pain while swallowing (odynophagia)
  • nausea or vomiting
  • weight loss
  • anaemia
  • Bleeding

If you’re experiencing any of these, consult a doctor. 


GERD itself causes acid reflux, which results from improper functioning of the lower muscle of the oesophagus called LES.

The LES is a circular band of muscle that relaxes and opens up to allow food and liquid to travel from your mouth to your stomach when you eat. When you are finished eating, it tightens and closes again.

Acid Reflux and GERD- Meenu Arora's Blog
Human internal organ stomach with increased acidity

If your LES does not tighten or close properly, the digestive juices and other contents in your stomach tend to rise up into your oesophagus.

So, the improper functioning of this muscle(LES) is the root cause. So, what causes your LES to not function properly? Here goes:-

Hiatal hernia: This happens when part of your stomach moves above your diaphragm toward your chest. If your diaphragm is pressing on the lower muscle of the food pipe, it prevents it from closing after you finish eating. 

Frequent large meals: A big meal expands the stomach and does not put enough pressure on the LES, so it doesn’t close properly.

Lying down immediately after eating: This again does not create enough pressure for the LES to close properly.

Acidic Foods: Some food items trigger acidity more than others, such as fried, spicy or fast foods, pineapple, tomato, and some beverages like coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks. Try following an alkaline diet plan.


Research has shown that drinking alcohol may increase the risk of GERD. The greater the quantity of alcohol and frequency of consumption, the more likely it is to be a factor.

So it makes sense to limit or discontinue your consumption to get relief.

Lifestyle factors

Persistent acid reflux or GERD may be caused by esophageal inflammation due to:

Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke

Consuming too many painkillers or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin or Ibuprofen.

Health Conditions

Health conditions such as the following may lead to GERD:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Connective Tissue Disorders
  • Older Age
  • Asthma
  • Anxiety
  • IBS or irritable bowel syndrome

How is GERD Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects GERD, she will conduct a physical examination to assess your symptoms.

24-hour pH evaluation: It may be done by inserting a tiny tube through the nose, which has a pH sensor at its tip. Alternatively, a capsule is placed at the bottom of the food pipe that transmits data about the activity there. This data is sent to a drive and analyzed. 

Esophagram/x-ray: A doctor may need an X-ray image of your chest to X-ray imaging to review the upper digestive tract vis avis oesophagus.

Endoscopy: A flexible tube with a tiny camera is inserted into your food pipe, down your throat, to see inside and to take a sample(biopsy), if needed.    

Oesophagal manometry: A flexible tube is threaded through your nose into your oesophagus to gauge the strength of your oesophagal muscles.

There may be other tests depending on your condition or If the symptoms are serious, such as chest pain or trouble swallowing, the doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist.


Lifestyle changes

To handle and alleviate symptoms of GERD, certain home remedies and lifestyle alterations can help, such as:-

  1. Breathing exercises
  2. Taking an alkaline diet
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight
  4. Quitting smoking, if you smoke
  5. Not eating big, heavy meals in the evening
  6. Not lying down immediately after eating 
  7. Elevating your head during sleep


If lifestyle techniques alone don’t help treat GERD, a doctor might prescribe drugs to decrease your stomach acid secretion, since acid reflux is a common manifestation of GERD.

Confer a doctor before taking pills because they may have negative side effects.


Generally, lifestyle changes and medicines help relieve the symptoms. 

However, a doctor may suggest surgery if it doesn’t help. 

These are;-

  1. Fundoplication
  2. Linx Reflux Management System
  3. Bariatric Surgery

How to assess if you have an acid reflux problem

Heartburn for more than 10 days, weight loss or difficulty swallowing, hoarseness etc are common symptoms of GERD. 

The Takeaway

Do not fret if you have acid reflux or GERD. Lifestyle changes and medications can effectively handle it well. 

Your doctor will help you find a treatment plan that works for you.

Don’t let persistent heartburn get in the way of living your life. Talk with a doctor now. 

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Welcome to Meenu Arora’s Blog.

This blog is my way to share health and lifestyle pointers that promote a way to live a beautiful life.