Indigestion is a common problem in the U.S. and it drives a great deal of spending each year by consumers on over the counter medication. In some cases acid-related stomach problems are temporary but people who find themselves using antacids frequently may want to consider asking their physician about GERD.
First and foremost it’s key that people suffering from acid indigestion be aware of the possibility that taking a non-prescription antacid regularly may be aggravating the problem.
GERD, or Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease, can be present and not even be detectible until a physician performs specific tests. Some sufferers don’t have significant levels of damage from the acid reflux despite sever symptoms and others with less severe symptoms may sometimes have more damage present in the esophagus. The possibility of having GERD and not being consciously aware of the symptoms is even a factor. It is tough to rule out GERD without appropriate testing. Because the symptoms can vary or even be easy to go unnoticed it’s easy to assume that any occurrence of heartburn or indigestion is nothing more than a passing difficulty digesting something eaten recently. But when persistent indigestion or burning leads to regular non-prescription antacid use there is a pressing need to see a doctor. Because GERD is caused by a periodic relaxation of the muscle within the esophagus which keeps acid in the stomach from entering it, damage can occur over time and progressively grow worse. In some cases by the time a GERD sufferer feels pain the esophagus has already been damaged. Though seeing a doctor anytime a person feels acid indigestion symptoms might be extremely cautious it is worth it when GERD is discovered early in its progression.
GERD affects people of all ages but it most common in adults. People over the age of 40 are particularly prone to develop this type of digestive problem. Children and event infants can develop GERD though and so it’s important not to overlook the possibility of it whenever symptoms occur that match the GERD profile.
Some factors such as what a person eats, lying down too soon after eating, some types of medication, and even clothing can increase the problems that stem from GERD. The best way to manage these various factors is to be aware of them. Watching foods closely can help. The timing of meals can also benefit a GERD sufferer if sufficient time is always given for proper digestion before going to bed.
Primary care physicians should be involved in diagnosis but may require the help of a specialist such as a Gastroenterologist. The most important step is the first one. If acid indigestion has become a frequent problem let your doctor know. While family history has not been proven to be a significant contributor toward the risk of developing GERD it may still be helpful to talk with close family members who have GERD in order to understand any common risk factors within the family.
Does over the counter antacid use make the condition worse?
Do you have to space meals and bedtime apart?
What ages are typically affected by GERD?