Put Out the Fire on GERD

Put Out the Fire on GERD

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the LES—a sphincter muscle that acts as gatekeeper between the acid in the stomach and your upper GI tract—does not close properly.  The reflux, or sudden regurgitation, of acid is so painful people sometimes fear a heart attack [1,2].

Know the Symptoms:

Where There’s Smoke…

GERD is diagnosed when the acid reflux or “heartburn,” is persistent and presents other problematic symptoms, including hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, feeling full too soon, stubborn sore throat, sleep disturbance, tooth erosion, and chronic dry cough. GERD sometimes mimics asthma [3].

Sound the Alarm

GERD affects millions of people of all ages, but serious complications of the disease are more common in older adults [4]. Untreated, GERD causes a chronic inflamed esophagus, which can lead to cancer. Over-the-counter antacids can control mild GERD if combined with lifestyle modifications [5]. More severe cases require prescription medications. Over time these drugs can have serious side effects, though; so it’s best to ease dependence by adjusting diet and lifestyle to minimize acid reflux.

Don’t Stop Eating!

GERD forces some to avoid food. Not a good plan when you need 3 squares a day. Just make those squares a little smaller. Eating too much at one time is a big culprit. Enjoy fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and light vegetable oils. Peppermint, alcohol, coffee, carbonated beverages, chocolate, processed meats, saturated fat, and cigarette smoke can trigger attacks [6]. When and how you eat plus a few easy lifestyle changes can maintain energy and vitality and put out the fire of acid reflux. GERD Handout

Guest Blogger:  Susan Wyler


  1. Flook N. GERD: A fresh look at a common problem in primary care. Current Clinical Practice. Vol 1, No 1; October 2007: 31-34.
  2. Vakil N, Veldhuyzen van Zenten S, Kahrilas P, et al. The Montreal definition and classification of Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)—a global evidence-based consensus. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2006; 101: 1900-1920.
  3. Forister G, Taliferro M, Ramos B, and Blessing J.D. Diagnosing and managing gastroesophageal disease. Physician Assistant. December 2002: 17-23.
  4. Shams D, Siddiqui NH, and Heif, MM. Gastroesophageal reflux disease in older adults. Clinical Geriatrics. March 2009; 17, 3: 32-37.
  5. Beyer P. Gastrointestinal disorders: roles of nutrition and the dietetics practitioner. Journal of the American Dietetic Association; March 1998; vol. 98,3: 272-277.
  6. Vemulapalli R. Diet and lifestyle modifications in the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2008 June-July;23(3):293-298.

All images:  Microsoft free clip art.

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