Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—or the simpler “acid reflux”—affects half of all Americans.
This is the condition in which food and other stomach contents back up into your esophagus on a regular basis—at least twice a week.
The acids from the stomach cause irritation, inflammation, and scarring which can tighten the esophagus, making it even more irritated.
GERD symptoms include nausea, wheezing, hoarseness, and eroding tooth enamel caused by acid in the mouth during sleep.
Having GERD increases your risk for esophageal cancer.
The incidence of GERD increases with age due to weakening of the esophageal sphincter and is more common in overweight people because of pressure on the esophagus. Diet also affects the sphincter: caffeine, nicotine, chocolate, and foods that are greasy, fatty, and spicy are huge irritants.
We can’t make ourselves younger but there are some simple things we can do to mitigate—or even alleviate—GERD symptoms.