Knowing and understanding the symptoms of GERD as we all begin to age, is very important for several key reasons; they can mimic a heart attack as well as breathing issues.
Although this condition is not directly related to aging, it can and often does affect people 50 years and older.
Once we move into our late 60’s and early 70’s, it can also turn into a more challenging condition if we do not control it.
The symptoms of GERD can easily be controlled if you catch it early, but it can sometimes be hard to properly identify.
It is also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease, and is a situation where our stomach acids, and in severe cases, the contents in our stomach, flows backwards.
When it flows backwards it enters our esophagus, also called our food pipe, and this backward action or backwash, irritates the lining of our esophagus.
While this will happen to all of us at some point during our lifetime, it is not a normal process.
When it starts to occur even once a week and begins to interfere with our daily lifestyle, it is time to have it checked and treated.
As we all start to age, our body is slowing down as well as changing, and our digestive process is no different.
It does have several backup systems built in by nature, but even those can be tested. Some of these changes affect this condition, but so do lifestyle changes.
Here are some of the things that are happening.
When we swallow our esophageal structure or sphincter, relaxes and allows both food as well as liquid to flow unobstructed to our stomach.
The sphincter is a round muscle band that wraps around the bottom portion of our esophagus.
Once it has relaxed and allows this process to happen, it closes and stays closed until called on again.
However, if this process becomes challenged or weakens by age or something else, the back-flow begins.
In addition to the changes that are occurring with the symptoms of GERD, there are also other conditions that can increase our chances of developing it.
They include the following.
Obesity is perhaps the single largest cause of GERD, and for this reason, as we all begin to age, we need to be very aware of our weight.
Being obese or even overweight not only affects our heart, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, it can and often does trigger this condition
A hiatal hernia, which is a bulging condition affecting the top of our stomach is also one of the leading causes and it is affecting our diaphragm.
Dry mouth can also easily trigger it as our body is searching for fluids, as well as smoking.
Connective tissue conditions, such as Scleroderma, can also trigger it, but what is not well known, is that there are over 200 connective tissue conditions.
The symptoms of GERD can be very confusing at first, and it is for this reason that it is very helpful to understand and identify them as we get older.
Here is the first group.
The first of these symptoms, chest pains, can be very confusing as this is the last thing you would expect with a digestive issue.
However, it is one of the most common for one simple reason; your body is reacting to this backslash that is occurring.
Dyspepsia, which is much better known as indigestion, can be very mild, or in some cases, become quite severe.
In the vast majority of cases this will surface within minutes of eating.
We all get sore throats, especially at our age, but a chronic sore throat is not normal.
As the acids and food is back flowing, you will develop a lump in your throat that will not clear on its own.
The only thing your body can do is to keep trying to clear it, and in doing so, will become sore and just plain tired.
The next of the symptoms of GERD is a dry cough that will develop as a result of your throat being sore.
Again our body is reacting in the only way it knows, and is trying to correct what is happening, and this cough will in most cases develop as we are lying down or sleeping.
The major reason you may lose your voice or become hoarse and it is difficult to talk, is that our larynx, also known as our voice box, has also now been affected.
However, the symptoms of GERD are still not complete as here is the second list.
The first of this list is breathing challenges, as well the potential development of asthma.
The most challenging part of this symptom is that a lot of inhalers used for most breathing issues, can actually make it worse.
Regurgitation may now be occurring much worse than in the early stages, as at this point the body is running out of options.
Saliva is a normal part of our digestive process, but this reversal is confusing it. It too will react by producing more in an attempt to help.
Halitosis or bad breath is the final of the symptoms of GERD. The reason for this does not have to be explained.
The good news is that in most al cases, if you catch it early, it can be treated with ant-acids or prescription strength receptor blockers.
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