Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as GERD or acid reflux, is a common occurrence for many people that causes great discomfort and problems like heartburn and belching. The osteopathic treatment offered by the team at Swetech Medical Center addresses this chronic problem and the direct causes of GERD to relieve physical distress.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
GERD occurs when acid backs up from the stomach and moves through the esophagus, sometimes even back into the mouth. This is a problem and the opposite of what is supposed to happen with digestion.
When you swallow, a small, circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus is meant to temporarily relax to allow liquids and foods to pass into your stomach. When this function occurs properly, the muscle – called the lower esophageal sphincter – closes again and prevents the contents of the stomach from passing back into the esophagus.
If this function doesn’t work properly and stomach acid ends goes up instead of down, GERD can cause:
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Sore throat
- Chronic coughing
- Chest pain (not heart-related)
Complications of GERD
While gastroesophageal reflux disease may seem like an in-the-moment inconvenience or a problem that comes and goes, this health concern has long-term implications. GERD can affect diet and lifestyle, but also threaten the health of the esophagus by causing a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus.
Osteopathic Treatment for Reflux Disease
The conventional treatment for GERD is to neutralize stomach acids with antacids. While effective, this symptom-based approach is not one that cures the disease, but merely minimizes the discomfort temporarily. Continuous treatment is required to prevent GERD from wreaking havoc on the body.
Osteopathic treatment aims to treat the structural issues that are at the root of the dysfunction in the body to minimize and ideally reverse the issue so ongoing treatment is not necessary. Doctors of osteopathy treat the cause, not just the symptoms. Osteopathic manipulative treatment can help the body self-heal and self-regulate – in the case of GERD, the diaphragm is targeted.
The diaphragm is a muscle that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity and it is attached to both the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. The esophagus passes through the diaphragm. There are also important nerves and connective tissue that affect acid secretion, stomach contraction, satiation, and gastric emptying time. The interconnectedness of the body cannot be understated, and it is essential to assess the body as a whole, including the spine and head, to identify and treat the root cause of dysfunction and not just the reflux problem.
Minimize the Occurrence of Reflux
There are some simple steps you can take immediately to help reduce the likelihood of GERD. Lifestyle changes can help:
- Eat smaller and more frequent meals
- Avoid large meals
- Do not lie down after eating
- Avoid foods that automatically trigger heartburn
- Lose weight
- Avoid fatty or spicy foods
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, and sodas
- Avoid citrus foods
- Do not smoke
Treatment for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Clinton Township, Michigan
There is no reason to suffer with chronic acid reflux or rely on over-the-counter remedies that offer only temporary relief. It is possible to treat GERD with hands-on, full-body medical care. Contact Swetech Medical Center in Clinton Township to learn how we can help you eliminate discomfort, improve your well-being, and help you thrive so you can enjoy every meal and activity without being sidelined by gastroesophageal reflux disease.