Acid Reflux: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Gastritis Symptoms and Treatments

Author Elfie V
Elfie V.

I find inspiration and joy in the kitchen as a passionate cooking enthusiast and culinary artist.

What is GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)?

Image by Lifestylememory - Freepik
Image by Lifestylememory - Freepik

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a condition when the acid from your stomach back up into your esophagus. This can cause heartburn and other symptoms. GERD is a very common problem, it usually affects 1 in 5 people. GERD can be caused when something happens with the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). LES is a ring-shaped muscle that is located at the top of the stomach, it becomes a separation between the stomach and the esophagus.

Normally, the LES relaxes to let food pass into the stomach and then tightens again to keep acid and bile from flowing back up into the esophagus. If the LES doesn't close tightly, stomach acid and bile can flow back up into the esophagus. This causes inflammation and heartburn. Medication and lifestyle changes can treat GERD, but in severe cases, doctors may suggest surgery for some people.

What is Gastritis?

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Image by benzoix - Freepik

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Our stomach lining possesses remarkable resilience. Under normal circumstances, it remains impervious to the corrosive effects of acid. However, certain factors can induce inflammation and irritation. Excessive alcohol consumption, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or the habit of smoking can all disturb the equilibrium, jeopardizing the integrity of your stomach lining.

The most common symptom of gastritis is pain or burning in the stomach area. Also, other symptoms of gastritis can include vomiting, loss of appetite, and nausea. Gastritis can be caused by a number of things, including infection, overuse of alcohol, or use of certain medications. Treatment for gastritis depends on the cause. You can use antibiotics if bacterial infection is the cause. If the cause is medication-related, the medication may need to be stopped. In most cases, however, gastritis resolves on its own within a few weeks.

GERD and Gastritis

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Image by wayhomestudio - Freepik

GERD and gastritis are two common digestive conditions that can cause a variety of symptoms. While the two conditions share some common symptoms, there are key differences between them. GERD is a condition where stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, leading to heartburn and other symptoms. While gastritis is a condition in which your stomach lining becomes inflamed. This can lead to a variety of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

GERD is typically treated with medications that reduce stomach acid production, while gastritis is often treated with medications that help reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat GERD, while gastritis usually resolves without treatment. A balanced diet and lifestyle are important to avoid developing GERD or gastritis. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating regular meals, and avoiding high-fat and acidic foods are all key to preventing these diseases.

Risk Factors for GERD and Gastritis

Hiatal hernia is one of the causes of GERD. A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the chest. This can allow stomach acid to move up into the esophagus and cause GERD symptoms. Another possible cause of GERD includes obesity. People who are obese are more likely to have reflux than those who are not obese. This may be because extra weight puts pressure on the stomach, causing stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus.

A third possible cause of GERD is smoking. Cigarette smoke can weaken the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), making it more likely that stomach acid will flow back up into the esophagus. Anxiety is also one of the most common causes of GERD. It can be caused by many things, such as stress at work or school, money problems, health concerns, or family issues. When someone is anxious, the body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can cause the muscles in the stomach to tighten up, which leads to GERD symptoms like heartburn and acid reflux.

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Image by ASphotofamily - Freepik

Alcohol can worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) due to its ability to relax the LES muscle, which is responsible for preventing stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. This relaxation allows stomach acid to escape and irritate the delicate lining of the esophagus, leading to the symptoms of GERD such as heartburn, chest pain, and irritation in the throat. Thus, it is advised to limit alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of developing GERD.

For gastritis, there's not only one specific cause of this disease. Rather, there are many different things that can cause inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining. Some common causes include Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), eating foods high in fat, alcohol abuse, and smoking. Additionally, stress and diet can also play a role in developing gastritis. For example, eating spicy or acidic foods can aggravate the stomach lining and lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

In some cases, gastritis may be due to age-related changes in the stomach lining. As people get older, the stomach lining may become thinner and less able to protect against stomach acid. This can lead to inflammation and pain. Another common cause of gastritis is stress. Your body will release a cortisol hormone when you're stressed. This hormone can cause the stomach to produce more acid, which can lead to gastritis.

Symptoms of GERD and Gastritis

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a condition that is caused by the improper flow of gastric acid from the stomach to the esophagus. What is the common symptom of GERD? GERD symptoms may include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation (the act of bringing swallowed food up again to the mouth). Many people with GERD also experience chest pain and a sour taste in their mouth. While the cause of GERD is not always known, it can be aggravated by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, as well as medical conditions like obesity and diabetes.

Image by macrovector - Freepik
Image by macrovector - Freepik

Meanwhile, one of the most common gastritis symptoms is a burning sensation in your stomach. This sensation can be felt anywhere from your upper stomach to your chest. Another common symptom is nausea. You may feel like you want to vomit, or that you have an upset stomach. Some people also have a loss of appetite and experience weight loss as a result. Other symptoms include bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Acute gastritis is a condition in which the lining of the stomach becomes severely inflamed. This can lead to very bad abdominal pain. In some cases, acute gastritis can be so severe that it requires hospitalization. Left untreated, acute gastritis can lead to more serious health problems such as stomach ulcers and even cancer.

Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Acid reflux and heartburn are two common conditions that many individuals experience on a regular basis. Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. This occurs when the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter, upper part of your stomach), a muscle that normally closes off the stomach from the esophagus, doesn't function properly. Acid reflux happens when this stomach acid reaches the throat, causing a sour taste and potentially leading to more severe complications. Acid reflux is caused when the LES doesn't work properly.

The discomfort and pain associated with these conditions can be bothering, affecting one's ability to eat, sleep, and carry out daily activities comfortably. Treatment options for heartburn or acid reflux range from lifestyle changes, such as avoiding spicy foods and eating smaller meals, to medications that help reduce acid production in the stomach.

Chronic acid reflux is a condition characterized by the frequent and persistent flow of stomach acid back into the esophagus. In some instances, surgical interventions may be considered for those who don't respond to other treatments or have complications. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan if you suspect you have chronic acid reflux, as long-term untreated acid reflux can lead to complications such as narrowing of the esophagus and esophageal cancer.

How is GERD diagnosed?

GERD diagnosis typically involves a range of procedures and assessments to determine the presence of gastroesophageal reflux disease. The first step in diagnosing GERD is a thorough evaluation of the patient's medical history and symptoms. This includes documenting the frequency and severity of heartburn, regurgitation (the act of bringing swallowed food up again to the mouth), and other associated symptoms. Additionally, a physical examination may be conducted to check for any signs of esophageal damage or other complications.

To confirm the presence of GERD and assess its severity, various diagnostic tests may be employed. These can include imaging tests like Upper Endoscopy, which allows the doctor to visually examine the esophagus and stomach, as well as the use of Ambulatory Esophageal pH Monitoring to measure the amount of acid in the esophagus.

Another common diagnostic tool is the use of Esophageal Manometry to evaluate the function and strength of the esophageal muscles. Next, Barium Swallow is another diagnostic test where the patient drinks a liquid containing barium to coat the esophagus, allowing doctors to visualize any abnormalities or reflux. These diagnostic procedures are important in accurately identifying GERD and developing an appropriate treatment plan.

For gastritis, various diagnostic methods are employed in determining this condition. One such method is a blood test that can assess for anemia, which can be associated with chronic gastritis or bleeding in the stomach lining. It measures the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood. A stool test may also be conducted to check for the presence of a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori, which can cause gastritis.

If these initial tests yield inconclusive results or further investigation is required, an Upper Endoscopy may be recommended. This procedure involves inserting a long, flexible tube with a camera into the throat to visualize the lining of the stomach and collect tissue samples for analysis. Additionally, a barium swallow also may be performed, where the patient drinks a contrast material followed by an x-ray examination. This helps identify any abnormalities or changes in the shape and structure of the stomach.

GERD Treatment: Diet and Lifestyle Changes

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Image by jcomp - Freepik

Most people with GERD can manage their symptoms by making changes to their diet and lifestyles. For example, avoiding acidic and spicy foods, drinking plenty of water, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. According to Mayo Clinic, treatments for GERD may include medications like over-the-counter antacids (neutralizing the stomach acid that causes heartburn), Proton Pump Inhibitors (blocking the acid production and healing the esophagus), or surgery may also be an option for people with severe GERD who don't respond to other treatments.

These are how GERD is treated. Then, how to cure GERD permanently? GERD can often be cured permanently through surgery. There are several different types of surgery for GERD that can be performed, so it's important to discuss the best option with your doctor.

What foods cause GERD to flare up?

For individuals with GERD, certain foods can exacerbate the condition and trigger flare-ups. Among the most common culprits are spicy foods, such as chili peppers and hot sauces, which can irritate the esophagus and weaken the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) which keeps stomach acid from refluxing. Acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar can also promote heartburn and worsen GERD symptoms. High-fat foods like fried and fatty meats, as well as those containing excessive amounts of oil, can slow down the emptying of the stomach and make reflux more likely.

Check out our spicy food recipes: Red Chili Chicken, Balado Chicken, Spicy Stir-fry Beef, and Spicy Beans and Shrimp.

Carbonated beverages, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol have also been linked to increased acid production and relaxation of the LES, leading to intensified bouts of heartburn and acid reflux. It's really important to have a good grasp of which foods can trigger GERD flare-ups. By understanding these triggers, you'll be well-equipped to effectively manage your condition and minimize those symptoms. The key lies in adopting a personalized approach that includes making dietary adjustments and embracing positive lifestyle changes.

What drink relieves GERD?

When it comes to choosing drinks that can help relieve GERD, a few options have shown promising benefits. Water is a commonly recommended choice, as it can dilute and clear acid from the esophagus, offering relief from heartburn. Herbal teas like chamomile or ginger tea have been found to aid digestion and soothe the esophageal lining. However, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before making any significant diet changes, as certain drinks may worsen symptoms for some individuals.

Author Elfie V
Elfie V.

I find inspiration and joy in the kitchen as a passionate cooking enthusiast and culinary artist.

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