By Jewels Doskicz

Got heartburn?

diabetes and GERDDiabetes and Gerd – According to JNM, you’re probably in the minority if you don’t. Research has uncovered that between 25 to 75 percent of people living with diabetes also have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

What is GERD?

Diabetes and GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a condition that manifests itself by the following symptoms: heartburn, belching, a sour taste in the mouth or a chronic dry cough. Some of those afflicted are totally unaware that they have it.

GERD essentially means that stomach acid and bile are going back up the esophagus irritating its tender and protective lining. According to Diabetes Self Management, this condition can cause: erosion of the esophagus, chronic inflammation (esophagitis), difficulty swallowing and a higher risk of esophageal cancer.

This condition is certainly more common in those that are overweight, but regardless of weight — more people with diabetes have it.

What’s the connection?

There’s actually no real causative studies that link diabetes to GERD, but according to Joslin Diabetes Center: “it’s often one of the many ailments that people with type 2 diabetes put up with.”

Studies show that a higher percentage of people who have not only diabetes, but also have neuropathy and gastroparesis will also have GERD.

Chronic inflammation of the esophagus unfortunately can affect how easy it is to control diabetes, yet another reason a timely diagnosis of GERD is warranted.

Heartburn vs. Heart Attack

Commonly confused for a heart attack (when someone appears in the ER with other risk factors: obesity, hypertension, diabetes or hyperlipidemia) they may find themselves getting ‘the million dollar workup’ and go home with a simple stomach acid inhibitor.

On the flip side, if your medication isn’t taking care of your heartburn, don’t be shy — request a cardiac consult! According to Diabetes in Control, the problem may not be heartburn but rather a symptom of heart disease possibly requiring intervention by a cardiologist.

Decrease Your Symptoms

Lose weight
Eat low-fat meals
Eat smaller, more frequent meals
Stop smoking
Ask your provider for an exam to rule out a hernia
Take medications recommended by your provider such as: antacids, histamine-2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors like Tums, Zantac, Pepcid or Prilosec.

“People who are overweight are 50 percent more likely — and those who are obese are 200 percent more likely — to have GERD than folks who are at a healthy weight,” according to Diabetes Self Management.

Foods Can Aggravate GERD

According to Joslin Diabetes Center, there are a handful of foods that you may want to limit or avoid:

Fatty Foods
Spicy Foods

Joslin also recommends that people living with GERD should try their best not to eat three hours prior to bedtime. This may be difficult when living with diabetes if you typically need a snack to hold your blood sugar overnight.
Adjusting your diabetes medication with your healthcare practitioner may help to decrease low blood sugar and the amount of foods you need to consume prior to bed.

If you do need a snack — steer clear of those that stoke the fire.