Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition resulting in the contents of the stomach flowing back up and irritating the esophagus. Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) would prevent anything from returning up through the esophagus, but due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy or smoking, the LES may become weakened and unable to properly block the stomach’s content.
With obesity being one of causes of acid reflux, anyone making their way through a weight loss journey should be able to recognize the symptoms. Note that most symptoms can occur anywhere between immediately after eating until many hours later, and in some cases, symptoms can be chronic.
- “Burning” throat or abdominal pain, also called heartburn
- Dry coughing
- Bad breath and dental erosion
Many Americans suffer from heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux, but it’s when the symptoms occur more than twice weekly that they are said to be suffering from GERD.
There are a variety of tests that physicians can perform to help diagnose GERD. The most common are:
- Upper GI Series: Essentially an X-ray of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
- Upper Endoscopy: A thin tube with a camera and light at the end are placed down the patient’s upper gastrointestinal tract in order to visualize the esophagus.
- Esophageal pH Monitoring: A small tube is passed down the patient’s esophagus. It monitors all liquid and acid that comes back up into the esophagus.
- Esophageal Manometry: This test lasts about an hour and consists of a tube placed down the patient’s throat before having them swallow. The tube measures at several places how well the esophagus functions.
Luckily, many aspects of treatment for GERD coincide with weight loss and wellness programs, and if you’ve already begun healthy lifestyle changes, it’s possible you’re already seeing reductions in GERD symptoms.
Some such lifestyle changes include
- Losing weight. Keep to a healthy diet high in protein and low in fat and be active for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Avoiding foods known to trigger your personal acid reflux, such as fried foods or foods with high acidic content.
- Quitting smoking and staying away from second-hand smoke.
- Remaining standing for three hours after eating.
In addition, over-the-counter and doctor prescribed medicine, such as antacids and antibiotics, have been known to help treat the symptoms of acid reflux. Consult your doctor or weight loss professional if you’re suffering from the symptoms of GERD.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a medical condition that prevents the body from properly processing blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with excess weight and afflicts many obese people, putting them at risk of disabling symptoms and complications.
Because type 2 diabetes and its precursors are closely tied to obesity, weight loss is often all that is needed to improve or resolve them. Even a moderate amount of weight loss can help many people reduce diabetes medications and even put the disease into remission.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that occurs when the airway is temporarily obstructed during sleep, causing disruptions in breathing. These interruptions can last a few seconds at a time or more than a minute, and may occur between 5-30 times over the course of an hour. Breathing often resumes with loud snoring choking or gasping sound, which can further interrupt sleep.
Obesity and Joint Pain
Obesity is among the leading causes of immobility in adults. An accumulation of excess body weight increases pressure on the joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Over time, excess weight can cause cartilage in these joints to wear down, and this may lead to severe pain and difficulty walking.
Arthritis is a chronic condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It can develop at any joint in the body, including the ankles and knees, the hips, the wrists or elbows. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.
In small quantities, fat is useful to our health. Unfortunately, we often eat more fat than necessary for benefits like nutrient absorption and joint protection. Our bodies do what they can to push excess fat into storage, leading to weight gain, but often the excess fat will also build-up in the blood stream.
This may lead to unhealthy blood levels of fats or lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides . When this occurs, the condition is known as hyperlipidemia.
Understanding Metabolic Syndrome
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for a series of health problems. One common obesity-related condition is metabolic syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a collection of medical conditions that commonly develop in association with obesity. There are five primary risk factors considered in metabolic syndrome. If at least three of them occur together, the condition is diagnosed.
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart beats. If this pressure remains consistently high, this can cause a number of health issues. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
People who have hypertension often experience few or no symptoms, but over time, their bodies may still suffer harmful effects, including heart, blood vessel and kidney damage.
Obesity and Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. Every year, about 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. That is one death every minute related to heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing heart disease. Losing weight is one of the more effective ways of reducing that risk.
Joint Pain and Obesity
Obesity and excessive weight can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Carrying extra weight makes it more difficult to move around and accelerates the wear on your joints and your spine. Extra weight makes it difficult to perform simple tasks that rely on your joints for movement such as squatting, running or climbing stairs. It can also lead to joint disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.