Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For many, this is a day set aside for dining with family and enjoying comfort foods and traditions. But for those who suffer from GERD, gastroesopahgeal reflux disease, and heartburn, this holiday meal could be fraught with fear and pain. No, we’re not referring to the love/hate relationship between family members who know how to push each other’s buttons. We’re talking about the discomfort of stomach acid flowing up the esophagus into the throat and spreading into the lungs.

A GERD – Friendly Thanksgiving Feast

Turkey – choose white pieces over dark to avoid excess consumption of fat and grease
Mashed Potatoes – top your potatoes with restraint to avoid creating anything too rich
Green Bean Casserole – enjoy simple green beans and soup but watch out for the toppings
Salads and Sides – eat leafy greens and baked sweet potatoes without excessively greasy or acidic dressings and toppings
Alcohol – limit alcohol, which can lower inhibition and encourage overconsumption

You’re Not Alone

Symptoms of GERD can be as unique as the individual experiencing them. For some, GERD symptoms are infrequent and mild. In these cases, incidences of GERD are easily remedied by a simple glass of water or over-the-counter antacids. You might say these individuals are the lucky ones. Those not so lucky, experience GERD symptoms once a week or several times during the week. These frequent sufferers often find water and antacids cannot touch the pain and frequency of regular bouts of GERD.

Preventing GERD Flare-Ups

If you find yourself dealing with frequent GERD symptoms following meals or waking up with heartburn when you should be sleeping, it could be a good time talk to your doctor about medications and simple lifestyle changes that could improve GERD symptoms. Depending on the intensity and frequency of your GERD symptoms, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) could help bring GERD symptoms under control.

Many PPIs are now available over the counter as Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium and Dexilant. Taken 30 to 60 minutes before the first meal of the day, the PPI helps reduce the production of stomach acid and minimizes GERD symptoms.While many patients find relief with PPIs, others also implement simple lifestyle changes to reduce the production of stomach acid. These include avoiding foods known to cause acid reflux, not eating up to three hours before bed, and an exercise and diet plan designed to reduce weight.

GERD Food Enemies

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Cucumbers
  • Mints
  • Caffeine
  • Fatty Foods
  • Carbonated Beverages

Finding Lasting Relief

For many GERD sufferers, there is a trial and error period needed to design the best plan of attack. This could include eliminating trigger foods or starting an exercise plan.Others find taking a daily PPI is a good way to keep symptoms under control. For those who don’t find relief with the above suggestions, it’s important to work with a gastroenterologist to investigate further. Alarm symptoms include weight loss, difficulty or painful swallowing, loss of appetite, vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, or passing stools jet black in color.

When you’re ready to get painful GERD symptoms under control, remember that Summit Medical Center works with the board-certified specialists at Gastroenterology Associates. To learn more, please call (307) 232-6600.

Remember, you always have a choice in your healthcare. Summit Medical Center offers orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat; pediatrics, gastrointestinal; primary care; general surgery, pulmonary; and plastic surgery to the Casper, Wyoming, area. With cost-competitive, high-quality medical care and superior patient service, Summit Medical Center is changing the delivery of healthcare in Casper and beyond.

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