It’s GERD Awareness Week – Learn How to Avoid This Digestive Disorder

Perhaps there is no other day of the year associated with eating more than Thanksgiving. With so much attention being paid to food consumption, it is fitting that this week we also raise awareness about a health condition that affects the digestive system.

November 19-25, 2017 has been designated Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (or GERD) Awareness Week. GERD, is a very common disorder that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows into the food pipe and irritates the lining.

After it is swallowed, food travels down the esophagus where it stimulates cells in the stomach to produce acid and pepsin (an enzyme), which aid the digestion process. A band of muscle at the lower part of the esophagus, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), acts as a barrier to prevent the back-flow. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the LES is weak or relaxes inappropriately, allowing the stomach’s contents to flow up into the esophagus.

Chronic heartburn is the most frequently reported symptom of GERD. Acid regurgitation (refluxed acid into the mouth) is another common symptom. Other symptoms can include belching, difficulty or pain when swallowing, or waterbrash (sudden excess of saliva). GERD may also lead to chronic sore throat, laryngitis, throat clearing, chronic cough, and other oral complaints such as inflammation of the gums and erosion of the enamel of the teeth.

Dietary and lifestyle choices can contribute to GERD. Certain foods and beverages, including chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, coffee, or alcohol may trigger reflux. Studies show that smoking can relax the LES and contribute to this condition. People who are obese are more prone to developing GERD symptoms.

Doctors recommend lifestyle and dietary changes for most people needing treatment for GERD. Along with lifestyle and diet changes, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter remedies, or, in serious cases, prescribe medications designed to reduce acid in the stomach.

To speak to a doctor about treating your GERD, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Stress Affects Your Digestive System

Our brain and gut are mostomach pain -178554755re in sync than you may realize.  For instance, the very thought of food can cause the stomach to produce digestive juices or the thought of giving a big presentation may cause constipation or uncontrollable bowels.The brain and gut are in constant communication. This direct relationship causes our gastrointestinal system to be sensitive to emotions and reactions such as stress.

When we are stressed, our brain sends signals for chemicals such as adrenaline, serotonin (a hormone that affects mood and is found in the digestive system) as well as the stress hormone cortisol to be released.  These hormones can cause adverse reactions.

Stress negatively affects our digestive system in many ways. It can cause a decrease in blood and oxygen flow to the stomach, cramping, an imbalance in gut bacteria and inflammation.  These symptoms can further develop into gastro intestinal (GI) disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease (IBD), peptic ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

There are several things you can do to reduce stress and improve gut health. Practicing stress-management techniques such as exercising regularly, avoiding stressors, socializing, getting sufficient sleep or relaxing can greatly minimize your levels of stress.

In addition to practicing stress reduction techniques, you can support your digestive health by drinking less alcoholic beverages or consuming less sugar- as too much sugar can cause an imbalance in the ratio of good and bad bacteria in the stomach. Increasing your intake of foods that promote digestive health such as those rich in probiotics or foods that aid the body in producing digestive enzymes is also helpful.

The gut is often referred to as “the second brain” of the body. If you are experiencing consistent complications of the digestive system, your body is probably trying to tell you that there may be a bigger problem. Make an appointment with a gastroenterologist who specializes in the treatment of gastrointestinal, liver, and pancreatic disorders to examine your symptoms.

Jamaica Hospital’s Division of Gastroenterology consists of board-certified gastroenterologists who provide high quality and expert care to patients who suffer from such conditions in both inpatient and outpatient settings. To schedule an appointment, please call 718 206 6742 or 718 206 7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.