Is it GERD?
Posted By Maryann On SEPTEMBER 05,2017
What feels like immense pressure or tightness in the chest that stops you in your tracks? If you said a heart attack, you'd be right. If you said heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) you'd also be right. This is why it's important to get a diagnosis!
Most common digestive complaint
More than 44% of Americans have heartburn at least once a month. And it is the most common digestive complaint of older adults. At Caring Choices, we see it all the time.
What is GERD?
No single cause has been identified, but the condition essentially involves more food in the stomach than the muscle at the top can keep down. Stomach acids slosh up into the esophagus and overwhelm the softer tissues that line and lubricate that tube.
Below are the most common symptoms. Older adults, however, can have lighter symptoms but a more severe version of the condition:
Burning sensation in the center of the chest
Regurgitation of small amounts of food with an acid taste
Complications of GERD
Heartburn is so common that many people take it for granted. In addition to concerns about an actual heart condition, GERD can bring on or indicate more serious problems, including cancer or ulcers in the esophagus.
Potential signs of serious heartburn
Occurring more than once a week
Increased severity of the pain
Waking a person up at night
Seek medical attention
If you suspect your loved one (or you yourself!) has GERD, consult a physician before reaching for over-the-counter remedies. Recall that older adults may not feel symptoms as often or as severely, even though their condition is more serious.
Once a person has the condition, it's not likely to go away on its own. (There are no toning exercises for that esophageal muscle!) But it can be managed with diet, and in most cases over-the-counter remedies. Check out the Is Heartburn a Problem? article in our monthly newsletter for family caregivers. It's full of tips that can help keep the flaming stomach monster under control.
Lost in the labyrinth of the medical system?
Visits to the ER for chest pain can be confusing and scary. As the north New Jersey experts in aging well, we can help you navigate all the different components of the health care system. Give us a call at 973-627-4087. You don't have to do this alone!