GERD and Menopause

Hot flashes, cold rushes, bouts of rapid heartbeat, irritability, mood swings, crashing fatigue, depression and a host of other changes ? welcome to menopause when for a while you seem to feel that life as you knew it is coming to a ?pause?.

Add to this the gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, bloating and nausea associated with GERD and you are ready to fly off the handle. Many menopausal women tend to develop acid reflux, for some it can be an uncomfortable sensation of severe burning in the throat or a feeling of being bloated.

GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a result of the backing up of the stomach of stomach contents, including acid, into the esophagus causing heartburn, regurgitation and a sour taste in the back of the throat.

Research into the reasons for the occurrence for GERD has found that the valve or sphincter that separates the lower esophagus from the stomach tends to relax sometimes, permitting the stomach acid to back up into the esophagus which causes heartburn in its mild form and if ignored can lead to inflammation of the esophagus, Barett?s esophagus and cancer.

The relaxation of the sphincter occurs randomly but certain factors can affect reflux such as a diet high in fatty foods or certain food groups and medications such as calcium-channel blockers usually prescribed to treat high blood pressure and certain painkillers such as meperidine and morphine and sedatives such as diazepam.

Hormones generally found in the body can also affect the functioning of the sphincter, leading to increased reflux. It has been found that progesterone lowers the pressure in the esophageal sphincter. In some cases estrogen replacement therapy can also aggravate GERD symptoms but nothing has been conclusively determined as yet and research is still underway.

However it has been found that acid reflux and heartburn is a pretty common scenario during perimenopause and menopause and it is best to treat GERD as you normally would irrespective of the onset of menopause.