Pandemic-induced stress raises risk for GERD: Research

Pandemic-induced stress raises risk for GERD: Research

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Jakarta (ANTARA) - Stress factors, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a disease occurring when stomach acid often flows back into the tube connecting the mouth and esophagus causing certain symptoms and complications. This statement was made by the medical staff of the Gastroenterology Division in the Internal Medicine Department of the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital - Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia (RSCM - FKUI) Rabbinu Rangga Pribadi.

"Research shows that nearly half of the GERD patients report stress as a major factor aggravating their symptoms," Pribadi noted during a health webinar, written here on Saturday.

The medical staff drew attention to the close link between stress and the emergence of GERD.

Currently, several people are under pressure after having lost their jobs, family members, and also experiencing stress since they cannot travel freely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stress and anxiety can raise the risk for GERD. In addition, leading an unhealthy lifestyle, smoking, and being overweight are other factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms of GERD. Other risk factors for the development of GERD are eating large amounts of food, drugs, being pregnant, consuming foods that can trigger acid reflux, as well as lying down after eating.

GERD symptoms include heartburn and also a feeling of food moving up the throat, rather than down, thereby causing a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, also called as regurgitation. Other more prevalent symptoms comprise coughing, hoarseness, pain while swallowing, tooth erosion, chest pain, a bitter taste on the tongue, and a lump in the throat.

As opposed to gastric pains, GERD is more likely to be related to stomach acid. Under normal conditions, stomach or gastric acid is produced in the stomach. However, for those with GERD, the stomach acid rises into the esophagus. Several people across the world suffer from this disease.

Based on the 2016 data, some 24.8 percent of the population in Indonesia experience GERD.

Pribadi noted that GERD can be treated through medication, though it is single-handedly not effective if patients do not switch to leading a healthier lifestyle. GERD patients must change their lifestyle for the better by maintaining an ideal body weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, as well as reducing the intake of fatty foods.

Moreover, sleeping with the head raised about 20 centimeters high; avoiding intake of large amounts of food, especially at night; avoiding snacking at night; and not lying down for at least three hours after eating are also good measures to prevent GERD.

Pribadi explained that GERD patients should undergo an examination of the digestive tract or an upper endoscopy if symptoms of the disease does not subside immediately after taking medicines and leading a healthier lifestyle.

Further tests are also required if the patient experiences symptoms or danger signs, such as continuous vomiting, vomiting blood, black feces, difficulty in swallowing, anemia, and weight loss.

"This disease does not cause death, but it greatly interferes with the patient's daily activities," he remarked.

Pribadi affirmed that the treatment for GERD differs from individual to individual. Hence, patients should consult a doctor, so that they receive optimal treatment.
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