Fibromyalgia can cause a lot of very unpleasant symptoms. There are the obvious fatigue and chronic pain, but it can also lead to a wide range of other problems including things like chronic itching and frequent urination. But one of the most uncomfortable side effects has to be GERD, or gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease. Basically, it causes your stomach acid to escape into the esophagus, which can lead to another condition called esophagitis.
Esophagitis can be extremely uncomfortable and make basic things like eating excruciating. So what exactly do you need to know about esophagitis? And what can you do to treat it?
WHAT IS ESOPHAGITIS?
But when it comes to fibromyalgia, GERD is probably the most common reason to develop the condition. When you have GERD, not only does acid escape back into the esophagus, but bits of undigested food can flow up into your esophagus as well. These chunks of acid-covered food can damage the lining of the esophagus, which leads to inflammation.
The symptoms of the condition can range from minor irritation to difficulty swallowing, chest pain so severe that is often confused with heart attacks, nausea, fever, and vomiting.
And it’s also possible to breathe some of the stomach acid into your lungs, which results in a chronic cough as your body tries to expel the acid. And if the damage to your esophagus is severe enough, it may begin to bleed, which leads to blood in your spit or even vomit.
HOW CAN YOU TREAT IT?
The best way to manage a condition like this is to make basic lifestyle changes that can decrease the severity of your symptoms. Being overweight is a major risk factor, so making sure to follow a balanced diet and exercise can go a long way towards reducing the effects of the condition. Losing just five or ten pounds can significantly reduce the pressure on your stomach, and makes a huge difference when it comes to GERD.
In addition, smoking can damage the esophagus and irritate the inflamed tissue, as can alcohol. So making sure to drink moderately and not smoke can help as well.
In addition, there are certain types of food that you should avoid. Spicy or fatty foods cause your stomach to produce more acid, which can make GERD worse. And when you regurgitate spicy food back into your esophagus, the chemicals that make it spicy can also be very painful when they come into contact with the damaged tissue of the esophagus. Finally, chocolate and mint are also known to increase the risk of acid reflux.
And instead of eating large meals three times a day, it’s often better to eat more frequent, smaller meals. This gives your stomach a chance to digest the food before it gets too full. Having less space in your stomach makes it more likely that the acid will flow back up.
Many people also find that their acid reflux problems are worse at night. That’s partially because your body is digesting all the food you’ve had for the day and partially because when you lay down to sleep, it’s easier for the acid to flow back out of the stomach. Instead of sleeping on your side, consider elevating your body on a few pillows or a specially designed pad. Elevating your body can help keep the acid in the stomach where it belongs.
Finally, there are a number of medications that you can use to reduce your GERD symptoms. Basic antacids, such as you might get at a drug store, can help. But for severe acid reflux, they usually aren’t enough. Consider seeing a doctor to get some prescription strength acid reflux medications like Prilosec.
It’s also a good idea to see a doctor to have them examine your esophagus. It’s possible that you might actually have a tear in the lining, which lets acid flow into your body and can be extremely dangerous. This kind of tear requires surgery, so it’s always worth having a doctor look at your symptoms and give you some professional advice on what to do.