Do you suffer from HEARTBURN or STOMACH ULCERS?

What is GERD?

  • GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. 1
  • It occurs when stomach acid flows back up from your stomach and irritates the lining of your food pipe (esophagus). 1

What are the common signs of GERD?

  • The most common sign is heartburn. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the middle of your chest. 1
  • Sometimes GERD can cause problems in your throat such as difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing or the feeling of a lump in your throat. It can also cause hoarseness. 1
  • Other less common symptoms of GERD include chest pain, nausea and cough. 1

How is GERD diagnosed?

  • If you are bothered by some or all of the above symptoms your doctor may be able to diagnose GERD without doing further tests. 1
  • If your doctor does want to do tests these may include: an endoscopy (where a tube is passed down your throat and into your stomach) or a test to monitor the amount of acid in your esophagus. 1

How is GERD treated?

  • A proton pump inhibitor (type of medication) may be used to treat GERD. 1
  • Other medicines that may be used include an antacid or a H2-receptor blocker. 1

How should I take my medicine?

  • Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.

What else can I do to relieve my heartburn symptoms? 1

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce your fat intake.
  • Avoid food and drink that trigger your symptoms. Some triggers include: fatty food such as French fries and donuts, alcohol, caffeinated drinks like coffee and cola, chocolate, mint flavouring, like peppermint and spearmint and spicy foods.
  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down.
  • Raise the head of your bed.
  • Don’t smoke.

What causes a stomach ulcer?

  • Research shows that most ulcers develop as a result of an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori).2

What is H.pylori?

  • H.pylori is a bacterium present in about half of the population of the world, however a doctor is only likely to test for it if you show signs and symptoms of a stomach ulcer. 2
  • The H.pylori bacterium is found in the stomach, and along with acid secretion, can damage the tissue of the stomach and duodenum or small intestine causing inflammation and ulcers. 2
  • The infection is usually acquired during childhood. 2

How will my stomach ulcer be treated?

  • Because your stomach ulcer is caused by a bacterium you could be given 2 antibiotics to treat the infection. 3
  • You could also be given a proton pump inhibitor (medicine) which will block the production of stomach acid and give your stomach lining time to heal. 3
  • This treatment regimen is known as Triple Therapy. 4

How should I take my medicine?

  • You will need to take your 2 antibiotics twice a day, usually for a period of one week. 3
  • Each antibiotic will have its own instructions so make sure you read the dosage instructions carefully.
  • It is very important that you complete the course of medicine you have been given and follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
heartburn ulcers

References – Further Reading:

1. Scott M and Gelhot AR. Gastroesophageal reflux disease: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician 1999;59:1161-1169.

2. Go MF. Review article: natural history and epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2002;16(Suppl. 1):3-15.

3. Romano M and Cuomo C. Eradication of Helicobacter pylori: A clinical update. MedGenMed 2004;6:19.

4. Hunt RH, Xiao SD, Megraud F, et al. World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines. Helicobacter pylori in developing countries. World Gastroenterology Organisation. August 2010. Available from: http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/downloads/en/pdf/guidelines/11_helicobacter_pylori_developing_countries_en.pdf Accessed 13 July 2016

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