Dear Diary: I Have Heartburn
If you’ve been suffering from GERD in Macon, what causes your symptoms? Though 20 percent of the US population suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease, the condition’s causes are different for each individual. The lifestyle habits and foods that trigger GERD in some may not do the same for others—do you know what to do to keep your own heartburn symptoms at bay?
If you don’t, the best way to find your personal triggers may be to start a GERD journal. By keeping close track of your habits and food choices each day and taking note of when your symptoms occur, you can pinpoint each trigger and create a list of the things that spark that uncomfortable burning sensation in your own throat. Here’s how to use a GERD journal to find what’s sparking your reflux.
Your GERD Journal—Getting Started
The first step in creating your very own GERD journal will be to set a timeline. You’ll need to spend enough time watching your habits to notice a pattern—two to four weeks should do it. If you plan to start using your journal immediately, make sure you’ll be able to commit to keeping track of your habits for the next few weeks.
The observations you make in your GERD journal don’t have to be exhaustive, but try to write down each of the following when GERD strikes:
- Symptoms. Each time you experience a GERD-related symptom describe how it makes you feel. Do you have heartburn, nausea or a sore throat? Are you coughing—are particles of food coming up? Rate each symptom by intensity (mild, moderate or severe) and describe it in enough detail that you can recall the sensation later.
- Timing. What time did the symptoms occur? When did they start and how long did they last? If you notice a pattern—say you find yourself more prone to heartburn in the morning or late at night—it may show that you need to work harder to avoid trigger foods at a certain time of day.
- Foods. Did you eat anything right before you experienced symptoms? What about earlier in the day? When you have a symptom, think about the food choices you’ve made all day long and which ones might have contributed to the problem. Common trigger foods include, but are not limited to: alcohol, chocolate, citrus, fatty meats, fried foods, gravy, nuts, oils, onions, pepper, mint, tomatoes, vinegar, caffeinated drinks and carbonated drinks.
- Habits. GERD symptoms can come from more than just what you eat. Did you do something that may have shaken up your stomach or allowed acid to rise into your throat? Many people find that the following behaviors can spark symptoms: lying down after meals, exercising soon after meals, consuming large meals, eating too quickly and wearing tight clothing.
Map out these factors each time you feel the pain of heartburn rising in your throat and you’ll soon see a pattern emerge. Though a GERD journal can be a very useful tool in figuring out what’s causing your reflux, remember that it’s still important to consult with your GERD surgeon in Macon, especially if your symptoms are severe. The information in your journal may even be valuable to your GERD doctor, as it may make it easier for him to recommend treatments and help you develop a plan to fight off your symptoms.
Have you tried keeping a GERD journal? Share your experiences, tips and questions with us in the comments below.