Do you ever get that feeling of burning in your chest or throat? It’s uncomfortable, painful and can come with an unpleasant taste. Well that is heartburn.
If you’ve only experienced a few times in your life, or you’ve linked it to certain foods, heartburn may not be a big deal in your life. But if you tend to experience heartburn on a regular basis, you may have a more serious condition.
Dyspepsia and GERD – What are they?
Chronic upper abdominal pain or burning, feeling over-stuffed after eating a regular amount or eating very little, bloating, nausea and in some cases vomiting are all symptoms of Dyspepsia.
About 1 in 4 North Americans suffer from it.
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is primarily categorized by frequent acid reflux (regurgitation) or heartburn (a burning feeling in the stomach or lower chest rising up to the neck).
GERD can also cause epigastric pain, nausea, difficulty or pain while swallowing and in some cases coughing, hoarseness, shortness of breath and wheezing.
It’s tough to tell which one of these you may have if you suffer from the symptoms as a lot of the symptoms between GERD and dyspepsia overlap.
It’s best if you fall into any of the symptoms to go talk to your doctor or pharmacist as they both can be very expensive to try and self medicate!
What’s Causing These?
It can be a variety of issues that can cause Dyspepsia and GERD. 60% of cases of Dyspepsia have nothing identifiable behind them, but the other 40% could be:
- Peptic Ulcer Disease
- Reflux Esophagitis
- Gastric/Esophageal Cancer or other diseases
- Food Intolerance
- Natural Health Products: Garlic, Feverfew, White Willow, Chaste Tree Berry
GERD is multifactorial so it can be caused by one or many of the following:
- Defective lower esophageal sphincter (LES) > the LES normally stops acid coming back up
- Hiatal Hernia
- Impaired Esophageal Peristalsis
- Delayed Gastric Emptying
- Excessive Gastric Acid Production
- Bile Reflux
Sometimes it’s hard to determine which of these is the main cause but GERD can be identified by its Triggering or Exacerbating factors such as:
- Disease states like Asthma and Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Drugs like
- Calcium Channel Blockers
- Lifestyle can trigger GERD as well like
- Diet of Fatty Foods, Chocolate, Coffee, Alcohol, Carbonated Drinks
- Other factors include
- Being Older than 65 Years
- Hiatus Hernias
How are these Treated?
Well step one is always going to be talking to your family doctor or coming down to Capsule Pharmacy where our Pharmacists can work out a treatment plan with you.
The goals of therapy are to reduce or eliminate the symptoms and prevent the symptoms recurring. Also, healing of any damage your body has undergone is a top priority as well.
Education is another important part of the therapy to recognize worsening symptoms going forward.
The key treatments of these diseases all involve lifestyle changes. With Dyspepsia its mainly diet focused. You should avoid meals you’ve noticed cause the symptom.
Lying down right after a meal is a no-no as well. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and eliminating smoking are key and smaller more frequent meals will help as well.
Dyspepsia is mostly benign in nature (unlike GERD) and so if you experience it just remember to stay calm and change your lifestyle accordingly to fix the symptoms.
It may be stress related so try and reduce stress sources in your lifestyle.
GERD can be reduced by avoiding exercising or even bending on a full stomach. It’s best to avoid large meals and foods like chocolate, onions, spearmint, peppermint and high-fat meals as they delay gastric emptying.
Talking to your doctor or pharmacist about limiting drugs that worsen or cause your symptoms is important too.
It’s also recommended to avoid lying down for meals or eating before bedtime.
As we said before it can be very costly if you just try to treat these symptoms on your own. It’s best to come in and talk to our pharmacists to see if a pharmaceutical route is necessary.
Antacids can help reduce the symptoms but tend not to fix the underlying issues causing them, and you should discuss with a professional which type of antacid (if any) are best for you.
So, if you’re having problems with heartburn, let us know at Capsule and we will work with you to get you back to feeling 100%!
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