As one of the most common chronic conditions in adults, you or someone you know may be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease at some point in your life. If acid reflux occurs more than once a week, you should consult an internal medicine specialist in Abu Dhabi. The condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and this affects the upper respiratory tract as well as the esophagus and may be associated with a variety of symptoms. Risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease are closely related to lifestyle choices
What is gastroesophageal reflux disease?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is an increasingly common condition that affects adults of almost all ages. This condition occurs when acid from the stomach leaks into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck. This causes severe discomfort and, in severe cases, can even cause tissue damage.
Rise of GERD in the United Arab Emirates
According to a systematic review, the prevalence of GERD in the Middle East ranges from 8.7% to 33.1% and is increasing. The prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease can be affected by a variety of factors, including age, gender, ethnic background, medication, consumption of certain types of food and drink, smoking, family history, obesity, and restricted physical activity.
Symptoms of GERD
The most common signs and symptoms of GERD include a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn) which sometimes spreads to the throat along with a sour taste in the mouth, chest pain, difficulty in swallowing, dry cough, hoarseness of voice, or a sore throat, the sensation of a lump in the throat, etc.
The primary causes of GERD rest on individual eating habits. However, other factors can exacerbate the symptoms of GERD, such as obesity, smoking, and high alcohol and caffeine intake.
Risk factors of GERD
Patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease usually have a habit of eating large meals or lying down immediately after eating. Snacking close to bedtime is also a risk factor for acid reflux. Moreover, certain types of foods can trigger excess acid production such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and spicy or fatty foods. Coffee and carbonated drinks can also cause the same effect. Certain medications that patients may be prescribed for other conditions can also increase their risk.
Another important factor in the increasing number of cases of GERD among UAE residents is the high smoking prevalence in the United Arab Emirates. According to the WHO Global Tobacco Epidemic report, 12.8% of adults in the UAE smoke some form of tobacco daily. According to internal medicine doctors, smoking contributes to gastroesophageal reflux disease by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter (the ring of muscle that connects the esophagus to the stomach), which is one of the body's primary defenses against GERD.
Prevention of gastroesophageal reflux disease
Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease can be prevented with simple changes that an individual can make in their daily lives.
- Changing your diet can be a great help.
- In addition, quitting smoking not only significantly reduces the chances of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease but also eliminates the chance of being diagnosed with lung disease.
As with most chronic illnesses, the best results come from early detection and appropriate treatment by the Department of Internal Medicine at the Adam and Eve Specialized Medical Center in Abu Dhabi. Patients who frequently experience gastric acid reflux disease are advised to see an internal medicine doctor to properly diagnose their symptoms. Our internal medicine specialists can also advise on treatment and include lifestyle changes that help control the illness.