GERD is an acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Commonly known as heartburn, is the back flow of gastric or duodenal contents or both into the esophagus. Reflux may cause symptoms or pathological changes. Persistent reflux can cause reflux ulcerations within the esophagus.
Normally gastric contents don't back up into the esophagus because the esophageal sphincter has enough pressure to keep the opening closed. Reflux occurs when pressure in the stomach exceeds the the sphincter pressure. When this happens, contents in the stomach regurgitate into the esophagus.
Tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, OJ, soda and milk, smoking, alcohol, certain medication, hernias, or any condition or position that increases intra-abdominal pressure or decrease esophageal sphincter pressure will cause GERD.
In order to understand and to effectively treat GERD, you must first know why you have it. Talk w/ your doctor about current medications. Perhaps dietary changes are needed. Eat meals 3 hours before lying down. Remain in an upright position after eating. Avoid activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure. Refrain from alcohol, fatty foods and cigarettes. If you take an antacid, avoid taking it with your other medications because the antacid will decrease other medication absorption.
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN