GERD is a common illness that affects 25-35% of the US population. It occurs when stomach contents, which normally move down through the digestive system, flow back into the esophagus (the tube that carries food between the throat and stomach). In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to allow swallowed food to enter and closes when the food enters the stomach, which prevents the contents and stomach juices from reentering the esophagus. Chronic heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD. Less common symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bad breath
If left untreated, GERD may lead to ulcers, bloody stools, and significant damage and inflammation to the esophagus. When the digestion pillar is chronically failing, as it does with untreated GERD, it can lead to food allergies, autoimmune conditions, and dysfunction in many other systems in the body. This, in turn, can negatively impact the other pillars.
Millions of Americans are prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers to reduce the production of acid in the stomach as a short-term treatment option. When used long-term, the possible side effects include osteoporosis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and increased frequency of upper respiratory tract infections.
Here at WellessenceMD we focus on helping our patients with appropriate plan. Diet and lifestyle modifications, combined with supplementation, can help decrease frequency or improve GERD without the significant side effects of drug therapies.