Misconceptions about GERD

There’s a strong possibility that you have heard a lot about acid reflux and heartburn if you or a loved one has GERD. Misconceptions about GERD are common, just like with many medical illnesses. 

Popular misconceptions can affect how we understand diseases like acid reflux and heartburn, making it more difficult to obtain relief and the right course of treatment. 

The following are some of the most misconceptions about GERD and the information to disprove them: 

Myth 1: GERD has no impact on a person’s quality of life 

According to surveys, having GERD can significantly worsen all aspects of a patient’s life, including their physical health, emotional well-being, ability to interact with others, and level of productivity. Heartburn, bloating, or other uncomfortable symptoms are brought on by GERD and can occur anytime during the day or even while you are sleeping. 

Myth 2: There is no treatment for GERD 

This is the biggest myth. To manage GERD, there are various management options. Treatment options may include medications like antacids that help neutralize stomach acid (ex: Aluminum hydroxide + Magnesium hydroxide (Maalox)), proton-pump inhibitors which block acid production (ex: Omeprazole) or medications that strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (Baclofen).  Lifestyle and dietary changes are also recommended such as avoiding alcohol intake and less caffeine intake; not lying down within 2 to 3 hours after a meal; small and frequent meals are preferred; advise to lose weight; and stop smoking. 

Myth 3: GERD is a result of too much acid production 

GERD is caused when stomach acid frequently flows back up into the tube that connects the mouth and stomach (esophagus). It is not secondary to too much acid produced in the stomach.   

Myth 4: GERD causes complications only in the esophagus 

While GERD’s most well-known symptom is heartburn, there are other symptoms and issues as well. If left untreated, GERD can lead to complications such as Adult onset asthma, Esophagitis (inflammation/swelling of the esophagus), Esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus), Barret’s Esophagus (pre-cancerous changes in the esophagus), regurgitation of the acid contents in the lungs, and ulcerations/bleeding. 

Myth 5: GERD cannot cause serious problems 

Many individuals prefer to think that GERD is just another mild illness like the flu. This is a tragic mistake, and GERD should not be disregarded. GERD if left untreated, may cause bleeding, ulcers and scarring in the esophagus.  This can narrow the esophagus which interferes in one’s ability to swallow.  One of the significant complications of GERD is the Barret’s Esophagus, which increases an individual’s risk of esophageal cancer. 

Each person’s case of GERD will be different. To determine the best line of treatment if you have persistent symptoms, speak with a specialist who can identify the underlying problem. Seek medical help should you experience any pain.