GERD Awareness Week
GERD Awareness Week is November 19-25, 2017. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a very common disorder. Each year around the week of Thanksgiving, IFFGD encourages people experiencing the symptoms, which may be GERD-related, to consult their physicians and to contact us to receive information and support regarding the condition.
Gastroesophageal reflux is the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus. Under normal circumstances, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) acts like a valve to prevent backflow.
During the first year, "spitting up" is a normal phenomena in infants. It generally takes about a year for the LES to mature. If reflux persists beyond the first year, it can lead to a failure to gain weight adequately, irritation of the esophagus, and aspiration with respiratory difficulties.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refers to symptoms or tissue damage caused by gastroesophageal reflux.
If you suspect your child may be suffering from reflux, the first step is to consult a physician and obtain an accurate diagnosis. The diagnosis of GERD can often be made based upon symptoms and may be confirmed by one or more tests.
Some dietary and lifestyle changes can reduce GERD-related symptoms. No single diet can prevent all symptoms of GERD, and food triggers are different for everyone. To identify your individual triggers, keep a food diary and track the following:
- what foods you eat
- what time of day you eat
- what symptoms you experience
Keep the diary for at least a week. It’s helpful to track your foods for a longer period if your diet varies. You can use the diary to identify specific foods and drinks that affect your GERD. Below are some general guidelines that can be used in conjunction with your food journal and recommendations from your doctor. The goal is to minimize and control your symptoms.
- Avoid chewing gum and hard candy. They increase the amount of swallowed air which, in turn, leads to belching and reflux.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating. Avoid late evening snacks.
- Avoid tight clothing and bending over after eating.
- Eat small, frequent portions of food and snack if needed.
- Elevate the head of the bed six to eight inches to prevent reflux when sleeping. Extra pillows, by themselves, are not very helpful.
- The following foods aggravate acid reflux, and should be avoided:
- fatty or fried foods
- peppermint and spearmint
- whole milk
- creamed foods or soups
- most fast foods
7. The following foods irritate an inflamed lower esophagus and may need to be limited or avoided:
- citrus fruits and juices (grapefruit, orange, pineapple, tomato)
- coffee (regular and decaffeinated)
- caffeinated soft drinks
- other caffeinated beverage
8. Spicy or acidic foods may not be tolerated by some individuals.
By Krista Flack, MS OTR/L, Pediatric Occupational Therapist