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For GERD, Rethinking Drinking

Rethink what you drink for GERD in Ft. Worth or DallasIf you suffer from persistent heartburn or acid reflux, your reflux specialist has likely stressed the importance of monitoring your dietary and lifestyle habits to successfully manage the symptoms of your GERD. Ft. Worth and Dallas are home to some of the nation’s most famous Southern-style restaurants, offering residents and visitors alike a true taste of Texas with recipes from spicy chili to fried chicken. Unfortunately for many sufferers of GERD, eating such spicy or rich foods isn’t always the best idea for dealing with unruly acid reflux.

However, a new study published by Mayo Clinic reveals it’s not always the foods you eat that exacerbate symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux—in fact, sufferers may want to pay more attention to what they’re drinking. Even for non-sufferers of GERD, occasional bouts of heartburn or reflux can still occur. When this happens, most are quick to point the blame at heavy or fatty meals they’re eating rather than the beverages they’re drinking.

Why Certain Drinks Affect Heartburn and GERD

Alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated beverages all have a temporary yet direct effect on heartburn. Such drinks have the ability to affect heartburn or acid reflux via a ring of muscle that’s located at the junction between the stomach and esophagus known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Specifically, consuming alcohol causes the esophageal sphincter to relax, creating an opening that should otherwise be closed except when food is passing through the esophagus. As a result, stomach acids can easily reflux back into the esophagus, causing the burning sensation that many experience in their chest and throat.

The same goes for beverages containing caffeine like coffee or tea. The caffeine in such drinks also has the ability to relax the LES, making it easier for stomach acids to flow back into the esophageal tract. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who drinks alcoholic or caffeinated beverages will experience symptoms of reflux or heartburn. Some people may be predisposed to such conditions and have a weak or faulty LES in the first place. Also, being severely overweight or obese can significantly increase one chances of experiencing such symptoms.

This is not to say that cutting back on alcohol or caffeine will alleviate symptoms of GERD, but it may help for those who experience occasional bouts of heartburn. Occasional sufferers of heartburn may also benefit from making small changes to their diets, but not necessarily changes that include eliminating spicy or citrus-based foods assumed to exacerbate heartburn. According to one of the researchers from the Mayo Clinic study, people are afraid of orange juice or tomato sauce (foods believed to trigger heartburn) but, in fact, there’s no clear link between such foods and acid reflux.

To successfully avoid occasional bouts of heartburn or acid reflux, it’s best to practice a little common sense and take a mindful approach to eating. If you know a particular food is sure to disagree with you, avoid it—but you should modify the way you eat along with what you eat. It’s simple: avoid consuming large meals in a short amount of time. Instead, slow down and eat smaller meals. Take your time savoring each bite of your food, paying close attention to its smell, texture and taste as you chew slowly. Do this for each small meal you consume and it may help with symptoms of reflux.

 

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Mom-to-Be Heartburn Relief

Reduce pregnancy heartburn and indigestion with your GERD surgeon in Dallas and Ft. WorthYou’ve been warned about the off-the-wall cravings, the ankle swelling and the many, many mood swings that typically accompany pregnancy. You’ve bought the baby books, searched for names and possibly even narrowed your search down to your top 20 favorites but what happens when those less-anticipated side effects of pregnancy strike?

You may be surprised to learn that more than 50 percent of all pregnant women report symptoms of severe heartburn and indigestion. Dallas and Ft. Worth moms to be already have enough on their plate to figure out before they welcome their newborns into the world without the added stresses of heartburn and acid indigestion.

What causes heartburn during pregnancy?

Heartburn refers to the sensation of pain, discomfort or tightness in the middle of the chest and sometimes follows the occurrence of acid reflux. Incidence of heartburn or acid indigestion in pregnancy can be attributed to two main factors: hormonal changes and your growing baby.

Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax and thereby allow stomach acids to reflux back up into the esophagus. Such hormonal changes can also affect the digestive tract and how different foods are tolerated. In addition to changes in hormone levels, the growing fetus can crowd the abdomen and push stomach acids upward. Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can help prevent heartburn safely without hurting your baby.

Reduce heartburn aggravation with the following tips during pregnancy:

  • Try to avoid spicy or rich foods that may cause relaxation of the LES and potentially increase your risk of heartburn. If you do experience symptoms of aggravation after eating a particular food, write what you ate down in a journal to keep track of your heartburn trigger to avoid possible incidence in the future.
  • Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day and at a slower pace. Eating large quantities at one sitting can lead to decrease in LES pressure and increase your chances of experiencing heartburn. Eating smaller meals also allows the stomach to empty more rapidly which increases stomach contractions and decreases incidence of heartburn.
  • Try not to drink large amounts of liquid while eating as this may increase the risk of acid reflux as well as heartburn. If you need to drink, sip slowly and only consume small volumes at one time.
  • Do not lie down directly after eating a meal. Instead, try going on a walk so your body can properly digest your food in an upright position.
  • When sleeping, try to adjust the angle at which you sleep by elevating your head and back of shoulders with pillows. If possible, you can lower the bottom of your bed so you lie at an incline whenever in bed to help prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
  • Avoid consuming excess amounts of caffeine, chocolate or peppermint as they’re known to decrease LES pressure which can increase your risk of heartburn.
  • Try to wear clothing that’s relatively loose. When close are tight-fitting and cling to your body, this can increase pressure on your stomach and abdomen and potentially lead to the backflow up stomach contents into the chest and esophagus.

For the most part, heartburn incidence during pregnancy is easily treated and typically subsides after giving birth. However, if you’re experiencing severe pain or frequent symptoms of chronic acid reflux, after your baby is born, you may benefit from speaking with your local GERD doctor or GERD surgeon.

 

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Pregnancy: The GERD Bump

For pregnant women, changes to reduce GERD without reflux surgeryWhy being pregnant increases your risk of reflux symptoms and how to prevent them

If you’re pregnant, you have enough discomfort to worry about without the agonizing symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Unfortunately, up to half of pregnant women do experience the symptoms of GERD, making awareness of the disease and its prevention very important for anyone expecting a child. Though reflux surgery is the most proven and effective way to rid yourself of GERD symptoms for good, there are many lifestyle changes that pregnant women, like all GERD sufferers, can employ to reduce the occurrence of GERD symptoms.

Why are pregnant women more prone to GERD?

Pregnancy changes more than just the shape of your tummy—it can change the levels of many of your body’s hormones as well. Altered levels of estrogen and progesterone reduce the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a muscular ring that keeps acid in the stomach from refluxing back into the esophagus. Relaxed pressure in the LES, along with increased pressure in the abdomen caused by a growing fetus, often results in the development of GERD in pregnant women.

The unfortunate fact is that pregnant women are often in discomfort, experiencing unusual pains that they haven’t been subjected to before. As a result, many women find it difficult to specifically identify the symptoms of reflux when they appear, meaning they can often go untreated. Your best bet in avoiding the pain and complications of GERD is to consult with Dr. Ihde, who will best be able to identify GERD’s symptoms and offer strategies to combat them. However, here are several things you can do in your everyday life to ensure that GERD doesn’t affect you during pregnancy:

  • Change your nightly routine. To avoid reflux, try to avoid eating for three or four hours before bedtime. This may be a challenge with pregnancy’s cravings, but you’ll be sure to thank yourself in the long run. It may also be helpful to elevate your head and shoulders by about four to six inches as you sleep—this will put your body on an incline that will force acid to fight an uphill battle to make it into your esophagus. If you’re uncomfortable in an elevated position, simply sleeping on your left side may give you similarly beneficial results.
  • Change your eating habits. Many of the things we put in our bodies like spicy and fatty foods, mint, chocolate and caffeinated beverages increase the symptoms of GERD. Eating smaller meals will help as well, as large meals cause a large amount of acid buildup and increase the chances of reflux. And whether you’re eating or not, you should try to sit in a fully upright position—this will make it harder for acid to travel up the esophagus.
  • Try over-the-counter antacids. Always speak with your obstetrician before taking any over the counter medications during pregnancy but antacids may help reduce your symptoms in the short term, though you need to be careful of a couple ingredients that they can contain. Magnesium can spell problems in the last trimester of pregnancy, as it can inhibit uterine contractions, while sodium bicarbonate can lead to a condition called metabolic acidosis, which can cause fluid overload in the mother and fetus.

Discomfort due to GERD doesn’t have to be an everyday part of your pregnant life!

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Is Your Weight Causing Acid Reflux?

Lose Weight to Improve GERD SymptomsThere are several conditions that can increase your risk of GERD, such as a hiatal hernia, pregnancy, dry mouth and smoking. However, some sufferers may be overlooking a more common factor that increases their risk of GERD—being overweight.

When you are overweight or obese, excess weight causes increased abdominal pressure which can increase your risk of acid reflux disease. Even a small amount of excess weight is proven to increase your risk of acid reflux. However, if you are of average body weight and still suffering from chronic acid reflux, you may want to speak with your doctor about potential ways to treat your GERD such as or prescription medications, lifestyle changes or reflux surgery.

In the meantime, the best possible way to help reduce your risk of GERD or at least help reduce related symptoms is to lose weight. Along with making necessary changes to your dietary and eating habits, losing your excess body weight may help keep your symptoms under control.

Here are some steps to help you lose the weight necessary to improve your GERD symptoms.

  1. Speak with a weight loss doctor for recommendations on weight loss goals that take your height, build and age into account.
  2. Try and exercise for at least 10 to 15 minutes a day, a couple days a week until you build more strength to work out harder and for longer periods of time.
  3. Moderate your food intake by controlling your portions and frequency of meals.
  4. Make healthy dietary changes that include eating more fruits, vegetables and foods with high fiber content.
  5. Cut down on fried foods and foods with high levels of acidities.
  6. Make sure to eat healthy foods rich with essential nutrients and vitamins.
  7. If you smoke or drink alcohol consistently, try and cut down on your intake.
  8. Don’t fall prey to commercial gimmicky diets and speak with a nutritionist, instead.
  9. Pick and choose fitness classes that can help you realistically reach your weight loss goals.
  10. Stay focused on the big picture and don’t give up!

These are just a few ways to help you take the initial steps to losing weight if you’re trying to improve symptoms of GERD. However, if you are severely overweight or obese, losing weight is a medical issue, so it’s important to speak with a weight loss physician before making any drastic changes to your diet or level of physical activity. Losing weight is not a cure-all for GERD but it may help improve symptoms often associated with acid reflux disease. If you are still suffering from severe pain associated with your acid reflux, speak with Dr. Ihde.

 

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6 Drinks to Avoid with Heartburn

While heartburn triggers are different in every person, there are a few basic beverages that you should steer clear of if you are experiencing indigestion in Ft. Worth. Certain drinks cause the acid in your stomach to splash into your esophagus, causing heartburn. If you suffer from heartburn or frequent indigestion, then anything that puts pressure on the stomach, whether it’s a beverage or a food, should be avoided.

Here are the top six drinks that you should avoid to help prevent heartburn:

Chocolate Drinks: Chocolate should be avoided when you suffer from heartburn, and that includes chocolate based drinks, like hot chocolate and chocolate milk.

Fruit Juice: Several fruit juices, including orange, lemon and grapefruit juice, should be avoided. These super-acidic juices will contribute to your heartburn problems. Even cranberry juice should be avoided, since it can contribute to heartburn too.

Liquor: When fighting heartburn, avoid drinking any type of liquor, including beer and wine. Even though red wine is often suggested for heart health in small doses, wine will actually make your heartburn worse. Since there are several ways to protect your heart and lead a healthy life, skip the daily glass of wine and save yourself the indigestion.

Coffee & Tea: Coffee should be avoided when trying to ward off heartburn. Coffee is highly acidic and will wreak havoc on your heartburn. Unfortunately, tea isn’t a good replacement, since tea should be avoided when you’re dealing with heartburn as well.

Dairy: Any kind of dairy products should be avoided when you get heartburn regularly. Dairy includes milk and milkshakes.

 

 

 

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Frequent Causes of Acid Reflux

Chances are that like millions of other Americans, you have experienced acid reflux. For many people however, acid reflux is a regular and frequent nuisance. Reflux occurs when the acid in your stomach flows back into your esophagus, a tube that connects the stomach to the back of the throat. Gastric reflux can cause chest pain, heartburn, regurgitation of food and tooth erosion. A big part of treatment for indigestion in Ft. Worth is prevention, so you must know the frequent causes of acid reflux.

• Bad eating habits. A frequent cause of indigestion in Ft. Worth is overeating, which causes the stomach contents to overflow and back up into the throat. Eat more frequent, smaller-sized meals to prevent acid reflux.

• Pregnancy. A healthy baby is desirable, but a growing child can put pressure on the stomach wall, forcing acid up into the throat. Eating smaller meals and frequently changing positions helps relieve pressure on the stomach.

• Smoking. The common habit of smoking can cause acid reflux, because it damages mucus membranes, decreases saliva production and increases acid secretion in the stomach. Smoking also slows down digestion, resulting in increased stomach pressure and a greater chance of reflux.

• Hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernias cause acid reflux when a portion of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest cavity. Hiatal hernias should be diagnosed by a physician, and are often caused by vomiting, straining and obesity. Pregnancy and physical exertion can also cause hiatal hernias.

• Asthma. Although scientists disagree on whether asthma causes acid reflux or vice versa, it is clear that one condition aggravates the other. Asthma medications can also cause acid reflux in some people.

• Acidic diet. Certain foods and beverages that are acidic in nature can cause acid reflux. These products include alcohol, citrus fruits, fruit juices, tomato sauces, spicy foods and spicy flavorings. Simply avoid these foods to decrease your chance of acid reflux.

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Esophageal Disease may be linked to Genes

The esophagus is the long tube that connects your mouth to your stomach and assists in the transport of food. One condition that affects the esophagus of many people is GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is caused by a weak esophageal sphincter, the muscle near the stomach that opens and closes to let food pass and prevent stomach acid from entering upwards. If the sphincter is not working properly, liquids from the stomach may leak back into the esophagus and cause irritation.

The symptom that presents most often with GERD is heartburn. Other symptoms include nausea right after eating, acid reflux, or a feeling that there is a lump in your throat.

If not treated, gastroesophageal reflux disease can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a change in the lining of the esophagus due to damage from acid reflux, and cancer. Barrett’s esophagus is a risk factor in one of the two types of cancer of the esophagus.

A recent study has found a genetic predisposition for people with esophageal disorders. Mutations were found in three genes in 11 percent of the people in the study. That percentage is considered to be significant enough to show a moderate to high genetic link for both Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

There will need to be further studies to confirm these findings and to assess how this information can be used to screen people who are at risk for esophageal disease or help diagnosis the disease. This is important because in the past four decades, the occurrence of esophageal cancer has risen by 350 percent in Europe and the United States. Currently, the amount of people in the general population that have Barrett’s esophagus is 10 percent.

People in Dallas and the rest of Texas will many times experience heartburn after eating Tex-Mex or barbeque. If this happens occasionally, there is usually no cause for concern. If it happens twice a week or more, then it is considered chronic and you should see a specialist.

 

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The Impact of Stress on GERD

Everyone deals with stress differently. While some people seem to not let stress bother them, for others even a dental check-up in Waxahachie can play havoc on their gastrointestinal health. It seems that Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is connected to emotions and stress in certain individuals, while in others not so much.

Although studies suggest a relationship between heartburn and stress (i.e. stress may exacerbate acid reflux symptoms), it’s unlikely that stress is the only cause of your chronic heartburn. If you have just recently begun experiencing heartburn and esophageal reflux, you may be wondering “what is acid reflux,” and “what are its causes?” Acid reflux is a gastrointestinal condition that happens when food and acids rise back up from the stomach into the esophagus. One of the most common symptoms of acid reflux and GERD is heartburn.

Acid reflux causes vary from the types of foods you eat to the lifestyle choices you make. For example, if you love spicy foods, crave chocolate, or enjoy a glass of red wine often, you may be more likely to have the symptoms of acid reflux. Similarly, overweight individuals and people who smoke often are bothered by heartburn. Additionally, people who are extra sensitive to stressful situations may be more prone to feel acid reflux symptoms more acutely than more carefree individuals. People who are under significant underlying psychological stress may suffer from more severe acid reflux symptoms because of a heightened awareness of their symptoms.

Regardless if acid reflux is caused by the food you eat or the stressful situations you face, most everyone will agree that GERD symptoms are just as real.

 

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6 Common Causes of Heartburn

Heartburn is a common complaint heard by physicians in Dallas and across the United States. A burning sensation in the chest is often the result of food or liquids regurgitating back up into the esophagus. Long-term symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) may lead to irritations of the lining of the esophagus and complications. Minimizing or preventing the symptoms of heartburn is easier when you know the causes.

  1. Food – Food is a common culprit leading to that “burning” feeling. Certain foods and beverages, like citrus, tomatoes, spicy foods, fatty foods, fried foods, and onions can aggravate the symptoms of GERD.
  2. Alcohol – Because alcohol relaxes the valve between the stomach and esophagus, stomach contents can more easily travel back up. Red wine can be particularly problematic.
  3. Caffeine – Along with alcohol, caffeine can cause problems in the GERD department. Chocolate, cola, coffee and tea all trigger heartburn in many people.
  4. Tobacco – We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but it is contributor to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) too. Nicotine can cause the stomach valve to malfunction, making heartburn more likely. Nicotine also reduces the production of saliva, hereby causing more burning.
  5. Hiatal Hernia – This medical condition causes the burning sensation in the chest typical of a GERD sufferer. When a person has a hiatal hernia, the upper part of the stomach has an upward protrusion into the chest cavity in the abdomen. What results is a weakened stomach valve, making it easier for foods and beverages in the stomach to make their way back up into the esophagus.
  6. Medications – Some medications can cause people to experience symptoms of acid reflux. Most notably are pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Antidepressant, sedatives, hypertension, and sleep medications can also bring on the burning symptoms of GERD.

 

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How Smoking Effects Heartburn

Smoking is not just bad for your heart and your lungs. If you suffer from heartburn or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and you are a smoker, chances are that your habit is making your symptoms worse. Smoking exacerbates GERD and heartburn in a number of ways:

  • Smoking increases acidity in your stomach. When you smoke, it stimulates acid production which can lead to discomfort and ultimately heartburn.
  • Smoking reduces the amount of saliva your produce. Saliva contains acid-neutralizing chemicals, so if you have less of it, you are losing one of your body’s important defenses against heartburn and GERD.
  • Smoking slows down digestion. When digestion slows, food spends more time in your stomach. When your stomach is full for longer, you chances of acid reflux and discomfort are elevated.
  • Smoking causes damage to your esophagus. If you already have esophageal damage from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), smoking can make you vulnerable to further injury.
  • Smoking weakens sphincters in your digestive system. GERD occurs when the contents of your stomach leak up into your esophagus. Smoking can make the lower esophageal sphincter weaker, which can exacerbate your heartburn and GERD symptoms.
  • Smoking changes the composition of your stomach acids. Studies have shown that smokers have more bile salts in their stomach acids, which can make those acids more corrosive.

There are a lot of health risks associated with smoking, but if you are suffering from frequent heartburn or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) it is very likely that your habit is causing you this severe pain.

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