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Jamaica Scientific Research Institute
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GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), commonly referred to as 'heartburn' and locally referred to as 'acid stomach', is a chronic disease where stomach acid/stomach contents or, occasionally, bile, flows back (refluxes) into the oesophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This results in damage to the mucousal lining of the esophagus and causes heartburn and other symptoms. When these signs and symptoms occur at least twice each week or interfere with your daily life, doctors call this GERD.

GERD and Digestive system (Image Credit: NIH)

A Peptic Ulcer is a defect in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, an area called the duodenum.

A peptic ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer. An ulcer in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer.

Peptic ulcers and bleeding


GERD occurs when the entrance to the stomach does not close properly. When food is swallowed,the lower esophageal sphincter — a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of the esophagus — relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into the stomach. Then it closes again. Abnormal relaxation of the sphincter allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing frequent heartburn and disrupting daily life. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, causing it to become inflamed (oesophagitis). Over time, the inflammation can erode the esophagus, causing complications such as bleeding or breathing problems.

Peptic Ulcers occur when the lining of the stomach and/or small intestines, a layer that protects these organs from the irritating acid of the stomach, begins to break down and stops working properly. Inflammation (gastritis) may also result from this breakdown.

Most ulcers occur in the first layer of the inner lining. A hole that goes all the way through the stomach or duodenum is called a perforation. A perforation is a medical emergency.

The most common cause of such damage is infection of the stomach by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). Most people with peptic ulcers have these bacteria living in their gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Yet, many people who have these bacteria in their stomach do not develop an ulcer.


Risk Factors that promote GERD

  • Alcohol (possibly)
  • Hiatal hernia (a condition in which part of the stomach moves above the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities)
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Scleroderma (Connective tissue disorder)
  • Obesity
  • Certain medications such as those for asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia and Parkinson’s disease
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome


Risk factors that promote Peptic Ulcers

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen among others. Taking aspirin or NSAIDs once in a while is safe for most people.
  • Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco
  • Being very ill, such as being on a breathing machine
  • Having radiation treatments
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
  • Many people believe that stress causes ulcers. It is not clear if this is true, at least for everyday stress at home.


Symptoms of GERD

  • Feeling that food is stuck behind the breastbone or sensation of a lump in the throat
  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to the throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness or sore throat


Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

  • Small ulcers may not cause any symptoms.
  • Some ulcers can cause serious bleeding.
  • Abdominal pain is a common symptom, but it doesn't always occur. The pain can differ from person to person.

  • Feeling of fullness -- unable to drink as much fluid
  • Hunger and an empty feeling in the stomach, often 1 - 3 hours after a meal
  • Mild nausea (vomiting may relieve this symptom)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Upper abdominal pain that wakes you up at night

If you are one of those persons who continue to suffer from this disease despite the best efforts of your doctor, it is time to consider the use of a Herbal tea drink. Talk to your doctor and then talk to us.

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