No one ever said getting older was easy, but I didn’t realize that it might be this hard. Everything seems to be breaking down and falling apart. My latest acquisition in age-related health maladies & diseases is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, otherwise known as GERD.
According to the National Institutes of Health, Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus—the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. GERD is also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation because the stomach’s digestive juices contain acid.
Apparently this is just another normal occurrence for many adults. Anyone can develop GERD at any age but you are more likely to develop it as you get older. Spicy or acidic foods are just harder to take as your stomach gets older. It is even more complicated for women. While women and men have the same basic digestive plumbing (stomach, liver, gallbladder, colon), the lower portion of the colon, called the sigmoid, tends to be longer in women so along with a longer colon, women have extra female reproductive organs all vying for the same small space, and their digestive systems don't have as much room to expand when troubled by excess gas, air or food so they are likely to experience distress. Yes it’s true, once menopause finally stops your annoying monthly cycle with its cramps and bloating, you get to experience new gas and bloating due to GERD.
Luckily, there are lots medicines out there to help & just plain old diet and exercise can help too. Reducing excess body fat can help improve your symptoms, and eating smaller portions is not only good for your waistline on the outside, it helps on the inside too. If your symptoms are persistent and really uncomfortable, you should see a doctor. An occasional antacid is a quick fix, but relying on Tums everyday could be an indication of a more severe problem and could cause additional challenges.
Experts do suggest limiting your consumption of wine, chocolate & coffee if you have GERD, but I have to admit – I would rather suffer than go without the essentials in life J