Digestive difficulties are common problems that can affect our daily well-being. These include heartburn, gastro-oesophageal reflux, indigestion and burping. In this article, we’ll explore these digestive disorders and provide information accessible to all on how to manage them.
Heartburn, also known as pyrosis, occurs when stomach acid rises into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation behind the breastbone. They are often caused by excessive relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which separates the stomach from the esophagus. Excessive consumption of spicy, fatty or acidic foods, as well as smoking and obesity, can also contribute to this problem.
To relieve heartburn, we recommend eating lighter, more frequent meals, avoiding trigger foods such as citrus fruits, coffee and chocolate, maintaining an upright posture after meals and elevating the head of the bed while sleeping. In some cases, over-the-counter medications such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors can also be used to relieve symptoms.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition in which stomach acid and sometimes stomach contents back up from the stomach into the esophagus on a recurrent basis. Common symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest (pyrosis), acid regurgitation, pain on swallowing and a chronic cough. GERD is often caused by weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter or increased abdominal pressure.
Managing GERD often involves dietary and lifestyle changes. Eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding trigger foods, not going to bed immediately after eating, and losing weight if necessary are recommended. Raising the head of the bed, avoiding smoking and reducing stress can also be beneficial. In some cases, medication prescribed by a healthcare professional may be necessary to control GERD symptoms.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, manifests itself as a feeling of discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. Common symptoms include pain, bloating, nausea, heartburn and frequent burping. The causes of indigestion can vary, from excessive consumption of fatty or spicy foods to factors such as stress, gastrointestinal infections or ulcers.
To relieve indigestion, we recommend eating slowly and chewing food carefully, avoiding heavy meals and foods known to cause symptoms, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, and managing stress. Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids or antiemetics, can be used to relieve symptoms. However, if indigestion is frequent or severe, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional to assess the underlying cause.
Burps, also called eructations, are expulsions of gas from the stomach through the mouth. They can occur after eating or drinking rapidly, when eating foods that promote gas formation, or in the case of digestive disorders such as GERD or indigestion. Frequent burping can be embarrassing and uncomfortable.
To reduce burping, we recommend eating slowly and chewing food properly, avoiding talking while eating, not drinking through a straw and avoiding carbonated beverages. Adopting relaxation practices, such as deep breathing, can also be beneficial in reducing excess gas in the stomach.
Digestive difficulties, such as heartburn, gastro-oesophageal reflux, indigestion and burping, are common problems that can affect our quality of life. Managing these problems often involves dietary and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods, modifying posture after meals and reducing stress. If symptoms persist or worsen, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to assess the situation and obtain appropriate treatment. Taking care of our digestive health is essential to maintaining general well-being.
See also: Preventing irritable bowel syndrome
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Naturopath, homeopath, massage therapist (retired!), stress coach and practical kinesiology
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Jean-Pierre Deschênes, n.d., h.d., mt.d, coach stress, pract.kin.