Acidity is commonly used word for hyperacidity. Hyperacidity can cause the reversing of acid in the upward direction to the esophagus. While acid reflux is medically called gastroesophageal reflux disorder, it can be a result of repeated acidity. Let us understand a common question, are acidity and GERD the same? Which foods help to prevent these symptoms.
Is Acidity and GERD are the Same?
Acidity and GERD are not the same thing, although they may have similar symptoms. Acidity is a state with increased acid in the stomach, which can cause symptoms like burning pain in the stomach or in the esophagus. It can also cause the acid to regurgitate into the esophagus.
However, acidity can cause GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when hyperacidity and reflux of acid occurs repeatedly. The repetition of this acid reflux or heartburn more frequently like twice or thrice per week is the severe condition. It is commonly called as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Actually, it is the chronic form and a complication of acid reflux. Heartburn is a general symptom of both acid reflux and GERD.
Which Foods Help Prevent Symptoms of Acidity and GERD?
Here are some of the foods that help prevent symptoms of acidity and GERD.
- Potatoes, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, green beans, cucumbers
- Non-citric fruits like apples, banana, pears, melons etc.
- Low-fat meat and seafood
- Healthy fat like sesame oil, olive oil, sunflower oil etc.
- Egg white
Causes for GERD
There are several causes for GERD which begins with acidity or acid reflux. Some of them are listed below:
- Acid reflux for more than 2 times per week
- Side effects of some medicines like pain relievers, antidepressants, antihistamines, sedatives, calcium channel blockers, etc.
- Usual in pregnant women
- Obesity or being overweight also causes GERD as a small portion of stomach is pushed upward through the gap in diaphragm. This condition is referred to as hiatal hernia.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
Signs and Symptoms of GERD
Acid reflux is characterized by cough, bitter or sour taste, heartburn, sore throat. GERD as a complication of acid reflux has some more symptoms. While acidity and GERD are not the same, the severity of symptoms may be more in GERD.
The symptoms of GERD include:
- Excess of acid in the mouth damages the tooth enamel
- Dry cough would be persistent
- Bad breath
- The patients struggle to swallow
- Patients experience nausea and vomiting due to regurgitation
- Disturbed sleep
Complications Associated with GERD
GERD itself is one of the complications of acid reflux. It can also cause some more complications if it is not treated or neglected. Some of them include:
- Barrett’s esophagus
- Esophageal cancer
- Hoarseness of voice
- Problems related to respiration
Diagnosis of GERD
Diagnosis of GERD is made by evaluating clinical symptoms, response to acid suppression, upper endoscopy and esophageal pH monitoring.1
Some of the techniques followed in clinics and hospitals to diagnose GERD are as follows:
- Monitoring the production of acid and its reflux action through esophagus is done with the help of a flexible tube which is provided with sensors. The tube is inserted into the nose of the patient and sent up to esophagus. This technique is commonly known as 24 hour impedance probe study.
- In another technique, there would be a special tube with a small camera fixed at the end and it is inserted through the mouth. It is pushed up to stomach or intestine to view bleeding, inflammation, damage, ulcers or tumors if any. Most of the times, this procedure is carried out by sedating the patient. This procedure is called upper endoscopy.
- To learn about the sphincter, esophageal manometry is followed which consists of sending a thin flexible tube up to stomach through nose.
- X-rays are also used to study the conditions inside the esophagus and stomach. Here, a solution containing barium is made to drink by the patient. As the liquid passes into the esophagus, the images are taken for the diagnosis. This technique is helpful in learning the abnormalities of stomach.
Treatment for GERD
As acidity and GERD is not the same, GERD often requires proper treatment to prevent complications. Though GERD is a severe and chronic condition that would disturb the normal life, there are some ways to get rid of it which are as follows:
- Over the counter or prescription medicines can be taken with medical supervision.
- As histamines can trigger the production of acid, H2 blockers can be used to block the receptor sites.
- Proton pump inhibitors would be helpful to subside the acid production and its reflux. Proton pumps are like enzymes which stimulate the formation of acid. These PPIs bind to the pumps and block the secretion.
- Baking soda helps to neutralize the acid produced in the stomach. The method is to be used for short term. Sometimes, long term usage of this sodium bicarbonate can worsen the condition even more.
- Sometimes and only with medical supervision some medicines like prokinetics are used to empty the stomach as soon as possible. These drugs have many disadvantages like interaction with other drugs and also side effects such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, diarrhea, nausea, etc.
- Surgery is opted by the physician as an ultimate solution when he/she feels that all the other techniques are not helpful and/or under severe circumstances. Surgeries include LINX device, endoscopic techniques and fundoplication.
Precautions to Avoid or Manage GERD
- The people can be relieved from symptoms of GERD if they take some precautions.
- Avoid having large meals or lying down immediately after eating. Instead, have small amount of healthy food at regular intervals.
- Exercising and doing yoga and pranayama on a regular basis would help in managing the disease.
- Sleeping in a slant position with upper portion of the body elevated would help in reducing the reflux of acid.
- People who are overweight and obese should lose weight gradually by following a healthy diet and exercise.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes
- Avoid alcohol and smoking
- Improve sitting and sleeping posture to reduce the symptoms of GERD.
Acidity and GERD are not the same, but the most expected complication of acid reflux is GERD. It is curable and manageable. With all the treatments, medications, dietary modifications, changes in the life style, some more methods can be followed to relieve the symptoms of GERD. It includes acupuncture, keeping the mind in calm state by doing meditation, yoga, usage of melatonin, herbs etc. Counseling by a well-trained dietician or nutritionist would be more advantageous in managing this disease.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or Chronic Heartburn: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
- Is Yogurt Good for GERD?
- How to Heal GERD?
- What Not to Eat with GERD?
- What Tests are Used to Diagnose GERD?
- Can Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD be Cured?
- What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have GERD?