Gastroesophageal reflux appears when stomach contents flow back into the esophagus.
This happens when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter, does not close properly.
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What is gastroesophageal reflux?
The esophagus is a hollow organ, a kind of tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It has approximately 40 cm, descends throughout the thorax and empties into the stomach, already inside the abdominal cavity.
At the link between the esophagus and the stomach there is a sphincter, called the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring-shaped muscular structure that controls the entry of food into the stomach and prevents the return of these to the esophagus.
The sphincter is a kind of door that isolates the esophagus from the stomach, opens to let food pass and then closes to prevent it from returning.
What are the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux?
The most characteristic symptoms of GERD are the following:
Acidity. Acidity is a burning sensation, also known as heartburn, which is felt behind the sternum, and appears when the gastric content passes into the esophagus producing an irritation of the mucosa. Acid regurgitation in the chest occurs when the gastric fluids rise, and can reach the mouth.
Other symptoms, which are less common, may be related to this condition such as; chest pain, wheezing, sore throat, aphonia due to irritation caused by acid content in the larynx, cough, asthma or respiratory distress due to aspiration of acid through the respiratory tract, among others.
There are dietary aspects or lifestyles that can contribute or increase the risk of suffering from gastroesophageal reflux, such as:
A high consumption of alcoholic beverages, smoking, high consumption of irritating foods such as chocolate, pepper or spices, mint, coffee, foods with high fat content. All this favors the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter allowing the passage of contents from the stomach to the esophagus.
Many patients also have a hiatus hernia. The hiatus hernia consists of displacement of part of the stomach towards the chest through the diaphragm, it favors gastroesophageal reflux. This is not the only cause since not all people who have a hiatus hernia have reflux.
On the other hand, other situations that produce an increase in intra-abdominal pressure may favor said reflux; overweight or obesity, pregnancy … etc.
Avoid These Foods.
- Citrus drinks
- Tomato-based products
- Soft drinks
- Fatty or spicy foods
- Eat in the three hours before bedtime
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive weight gain
- Cola drinks
If symptoms persist, over-the-counter antacids can reduce discomfort. These medications, however, only work for a limited time to treat reflux.
- Avoid lying down after meals, at least until about 2 hours have passed since the ingestion.
- Raise the head of the bed, about 10-15 cm. by placing wooden blocks on the front legs of the bed.
- Do not place pillows, because they only manage to bend the neck. It is necessary to raise the entire upper trunk.
- Do not wear tight clothing.
- Do not make very abundant meals.
- Control overweight
- Eliminate or reduce the consumption of tobacco and alcohol.
- Avoid foods and drinks that decrease the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid bending over or exercising immediately after eating.
- Reduce stress.