Sharing what it’s like to live an active life with GERD.
Do you ever feel like you are living with a secret? Maybe a secret that makes you fearful to go to dinner with friends or family? That has been my life.
As long as I can remember, my life has been controlled by GERD. Yes, that’s right. GERD is similar to having a little acid reflux, the only problem is GERD is much more severe than an occasional bout of acid reflux. GERD can actually affect your entire lifestyle.
What is it like to live with GERD?
As a kid growing up, I would have trouble eating and breathing, plus problems with my stomach but never fully understood why until much later. I found out that I actually had a major and scary symptom of GERD called dysphagia, also known as difficulty swallowing. The best way I can describe this is it literally feels like a ball is stuck in your esophagus and nothing can go in or out.
What does this mean? For me, I would become panicked when I could not breathe. I have learned now when this happens to take small sips of water, but I literally have to leave the table if we are eating and go to a bathroom and then talk myself down out of becoming panicked.
This is just a normal way of life for me. I have left often during dinner, suddenly stopped talking and withdrawn from my friends, or I will eat so slowly that I end up taking home my dinner just to avoid an episode.
One of the worst experiences I have had with this side effect was at a restaurant with my parents when I was a kid. I was in the bathroom for over an hour trying to swallow and get my breathing under control, it was too the point that we nearly had to go to the ER that time.
GERD is a severe level of acid reflux, which makes me feel as though I have a lump in my throat.
My life has been centered on this for as long as I can possibly remember. Each night at the dinner table, I’m typically the last one to finish eating because I have to eat so slowly to try to avoid the episode. Even after decades of dealing with this I still find myself in the midst of feeling anxious any time I have a major flare up.
There are ways to help prevent these flare ups of GERD and many of them I do regularly or strive to do in my life.
Remember though, first and foremost contact your doctor, they will be able to provide you with a plethora of information on GERD plus fully diagnose you properly.
5 Tips to Keeping GERD Under Control:
1. Choose Foods Wisely–Avoid foods and beverages that do cause or trigger reflux. For me this means carbonated beverages while eating, cold beverages, caffeine, alcohol, or fatty and highly acidic foods. It’s also wise to eat smaller meals and eat slowly.
2. Keep Stress Levels in Check–The rise of reflux can be very much tied to stress in our own lives, be sure to keep the stress to a minimum and find a good outlet for stress reduction such as exercise.
3. Diet and Exercise–I have found that keeping my weight in check is a major factor in preventing reflux flares up which also ties into both the foods you choose to eat and the stress level.
4. Stay Upright After Meals–Just like with traditional heartburn, with GERD you do not want to lay down after meals, typically you would want to stay upright for several hours before lying down to avoid reflux. Along with staying upright many facing GERD do better by elevating the head end of the bed.
5. No Smoking–Smoking will only make matters worse when it comes to GERD, eliminate this habit entirely in order to avoid the esophagus weakening even more.
I use each of these tips in my own life to try to minimize my GERD as much as possible. Some days seem to be worse than others and there are many foods I just will not eat anymore because I know the havoc they will cause.
I have found that the times that my GERD is the most under control is when I am living an active lifestyle with regular exercise. That is a big motivating factor for me to continue on a healthy, active lifestyle.
The most frustrating part for me with GERD is mine is chronic, it will not just go away, I have to do the best I can to live comfortably with it.
Do you suffer from GERD? What do you do to continue on living a normal, active lifestyle?
AstraZeneca started a Facebook community this year for people like me with this condition, there’s some pretty entertaining, inspirational and informative content on there and I highly recommend you checking it out!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.