I know it sounds awkward to the ears to say that one has “heartburns” in the stomach! Actually, it’s medically correct (at least, partially)
It’s GERD awareness week and that’s the reason we’re talking about this very common condition. For those of us that do not know, GERD is an acronym for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, what we usually call heartburn. But it’s not really a heart condition. It’s more of a stomach and foodpipe condition.
For some unusual reasons, the stomach contents (acidic in nature) which are supposed to travel down the intestines find a way to come back up into the esophagus in this condition. It’s why we call it reflux and that’s what causes the heartburn sensation.
So many things can predispose to GERD but some of them include
- Smoking, alcohol, fat, coffee
- Heavy meals
- Tight clothes
- Some drugs
Thankfully, GERD can be managed with medications but sometimes, the presentations can worsen. If a person with heartburns notices any of the following, they should be worried and seek urgent care
- Weight loss
- Vomiting (could be bloody)
- Painful swallowing
- Dark stools
- if older than 55 years
- if treated (with prescribed medications) for 4 weeks with no relief in symptoms
Heartburns and Chest pains can be very confusing as the former is not a serious condition and the latter can be life-threatening.
To be on the safe side, consult your doctor if you have any chest pains or heartburns.
Your doctor should perform appropriate examinations and tests on you and help reassure you if it’s GERD
All in all, GERD is something we should be on the lookout for and can easily be treated. When next you get a heartburn, keep calm and call your doctor 😀. Remember, it’s your stomach, not your heart
Dr Osunlusi Olufemi