Avoiding Summertime GERD Symptoms
and How to Know When It's Time to See a Gastroenterologist
To many, summertime means cookouts, lemonade, and ice cold beer. But if you’re part of the 18-28 percent of North Americans that suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, summertime can bring challenges to your social events. That’s because popular summertime foods can irritate GERD and make symptoms worse. Most people experience acid reflux every once in a while. But when acid reflux occurs twice or more a week, this could indicate GERD.
Popular summertime foods that can wreak havoc on GERD symptoms include:
- Barbecued foods
- Fatty meats
- Citrus (think lemonade)
- Alcoholic beverages
Put these all together and you have the ideal summertime plate — and a nightmare for GERD sufferers.
How to Avoid GERD Symptoms in the Summertime
If you suffer from GERD, you may be wondering, “How can I manage my symptoms in the summertime?
- Drink lots of water and avoid carbonated drinks
- Grill leaner, less fatty meats
- Consider plant-based burger options
- Opt for less acidic dressings, like guacamole instead of ketchup
- Go easy on the alcohol
- Consider switching to iced tea in place of lemonade
- Stop eating at least three hours before lying down
Incorporate these changes with the lifestyle changes that help you control GERD symptoms year-round, like eating slowly and eating smaller, more frequent meals to prevent your stomach from getting too full.
Why Is it Important to Properly Manage GERD Symptoms?
When GERD symptoms are not managed properly, they can lead to more serious health complications, like:
- Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus that, over time, can lead to esophageal cancer.
- Barrett’s esophagus: A condition characterized by tissue in the esophagus that has been “replaced” by tissue similar to that of the lining of the intestines due to recurring GERD symptoms. If not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, Barrett’s esophagus can lead to esophageal cancer. Barrett’s esophagus can only be diagnosed by a gastroenterologist.
- Esophageal stricture: A narrowing of the esophagus that can cause problems with swallowing.
- Esophageal cancer: Cancer of the esophagus developed by complications of GERD.
- Respiratory issues: When stomach acid flows backward or up into the esophagus, it’s possible that it can be inhaled and enter the lungs. This can lead to possible respiratory issues, i.e. Asthma.
When Should You See Your Gastroenterologist?
If you experience chest pain, seek medical care immediately. Sometimes, GERD symptoms include chest pain that can resemble a heart attack.
If GERD symptoms become severe or frequent (occurring more than twice a week) make an appointment to see a gastroenterologist. If you’re experiencing new or mild symptoms, make an
appointment to see your primary care physician. He/she will determine whether you need to be referred to a gastroenterologist for further examination.
Looking for a Gastroenterologist in DFW?
Are you looking for a gastroenterologist in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area? Call our office at 1.800.425.3759. Our gastroenterologists are highly experienced specialists in diagnosing and treating GERD. We’re here to help you enjoy the most out of life.