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  • Understanding the Basics About Cancer

    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk

    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention

    https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-2019.html

    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/staging

    In 25 years, the United States has seen a 27% decline in the number of deaths caused by cancer. This steep decline is due to the reduction in the number of people smoking habitually and advances in technology. But, what has also helped is people staying informed and aware about the disease. Recognizing the signs and symptoms is very important for getting treatment at the right time. So, here’s everything you need to know about cancer.

    Cancer — What is it?

    For starters, cancer is not a single disease but rather a bunch of diseases. The cells in the human body are always growing and multiplying, the old ones die and are replaced with the new ones. In the case of cancer, this is what happens, except the cells that are multiplying and replacing the dead cells are abnormal in nature. When these abnormal cells spread to the surrounding tissue, they are called tumors.

    There are two types of tumors that are present in the body: benign and malignant. The tumors that are cancerous in nature are malignant, which means that they spread not only to the surrounding tissue but also spread to other organs of the body.

    Causes of Cancer

    While the exact cause of cancer has not yet been discovered, there are certain factors that are known to put people at risk. A few of the factors that play a role in causing cancer can be avoided or controlled but others cannot be managed.

    One of the risk factors in the latter category is genetics. Cancer is genetic and can be inherited. It can also be a result of the cells damaged by environmental issues, age, alcohol, diet, immunosuppression, obesity, exposure to sunlight and radiation, tobacco, and even hormones.

    Stages of Cancer

    While the TNM system helps give a detailed understanding of cancer, the condition can be, and often is, divided into four stages that are easier to describe and understand:

    • Stage 0: At this stage, abnormal cells are present or in situ in the body. The tumor hasn’t been formed yet, but it could be.
    • Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3: The cancer is present in the body. The greater the stage, the more cancer has spread to the surrounding tissue, lymph nodes, and organs.
    • Stage 4: This is an advanced stage and cancer has metastasized throughout the body.

    Prevention of Cancer

    Preventive measures for cancer are basically things that a person can do to lower their risk of getting cancer. You can:

    • Try changing the diet and lifestyle to a more healthy one
    • Keep an eye out for precancerous conditions
    • Try chemoprevention if you are at-risk
    • Get a risk-reducing surgery
    • Steer clear of carcinogens
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  • A comprehensive guide on Alzheimer’s disease

    Alzheimer’s disease, a neurological condition, causes brain cells to die. It is a debilitating illness that starts with memory loss and cognitive decline caused by brain cell damage. It is one of the most common forms of dementia with nearly 80 percent of dementia cases starting with Alzheimer’s disease. More than 5 million people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease annually. The disease progresses in stages and symptoms become severe over time. Here are a few important things to know about Alzheimer’s disease.

    Various stages
    As mentioned above, Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are seven stages based on the severity of the symptoms. The disease begins with no impairment, progresses to mild and moderate decline, and finally, a state of severe decline. The diagnosis is usually done in the fourth stage of Alzheimer’s, known as “early-stage or mild Alzheimer’s.” Therefore, the disease can be said to have three main stages. The first one is preclinical, the stage before any of the symptoms appear. Mild cognitive impairment is the second stage, where symptoms begin to appear; however, they are quite mild. Dementia is the last and final stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Common symptoms
    One of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is cognitive loss, which causes memory loss. Several other symptoms start to appear over time and the person will go through rapid changes in behavior, mood, and personality. They will have poor judgment, tend to misplace things frequently, and be unable to retrace their steps. Also, the sudden and quick loss of memory will make it difficult to carry on everyday routine tasks such as managing money or bills. In the last stage, a person will require complete assistance. People afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease may also experience depression.

    Common causes
    According to research, there is no specific cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors are in the dark as to what causes this neurodegenerative disease. Based on most studies, there are several factors that may lead to Alzheimer’s with one of the common factors being age. Usually, older adults are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. Another cause is genetics, which is a family history of Alzheimer’s. Some other common underlying factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

    Common diagnosis methods
    There are no screening tests to detect Alzheimer’s disease, it is usually diagnosed based on early symptoms. Doctors also look into a patient’s family and medical history. Apart from these, a patient’s senses, balance, and reflexes, that is overall neurological functions are also examined. In certain cases, doctors may suggest genetic testing, blood and urine tests, CT scans, and MRI scans.

    Well-known treatments
    Alzheimer’s disease is not curable as there are no medications or treatments for a complete cure. Therapies, medications, and treatments are used to help a person live a life that is as close to normal as possible. Medications and therapies help to alleviate the effects of the various symptoms. In some cases, treatments can also slow down progression of the disease.

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  • Understanding treatment options for allergies

    Allergies are a common problem, and there is nothing that can be done to avoid them. However, there are treatments and medications available that help manage the symptoms caused due to an allergic reaction. It is necessary to be aware of the course of action in case you or someone around you is suddenly experiencing an allergic reaction. Continue reading to learn more about allergies, how to detect them, and its treatment options.

    What are allergies and how to detect them?

    An allergy is the reaction produced by the immune system when it is trying to fight a foreign substance it believes to be harmful. This foreign substance does not have to be bacteria or viruses. Sometimes, your immune system fights virtually non-harmful substances such as grass, dust mites, dander, and food, assuming them as harmful. This reaction against non-harmful substances or “allergens” is known as an allergic reaction.

    The body reacts to different things on a different scale. That means the type, the severity, and the signs of an allergic reaction can differ from person to person. While our genetics do play a role in their manifestation, it does not necessarily mean we exhibit the same allergies as our parents. Allergies can be developed at any stage of life to any substance.

    Signs of allergies vary from person-to-person. Some show symptoms such as running nose, congestion, watery eyes, swollen mouth, and face, while others show symptoms like rashes, hives, skin inflammation, and wheezing. Some allergies also manifest in the form of asthma, making it even more important to detect what causes the allergic reaction.

    It is essential to consult your doctor and get a medical opinion about allergies. The doctor may ask you to undergo blood and skin tests that will help determine your allergies. Here are some details about the possible treatment that includes oral medications, nasal sprays, immunotherapy, and emergency epinephrine.

    Oral medications and nasal sprays for allergies include the following various classes of medicines

    • Antihistamines – Antihistamines block the chemical histamine, which is released by the body during an allergic reaction.
    • Corticosteroids – These decrease the inflammation caused due to an allergic reaction and provide relief.
    • Decongestants – Decongestants are used in temporarily relieving nasal and sinus congestion. They are available in the form of liquids, sprays, drops, and pills.

    Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is a treatment process that involves regular exposure to allergens with gradually increasing intensity. This is done in order to get the immune system to stop reacting to these allergens. It is specially used in case of hard to avoid allergy-causing substances.

    The course of treatment can be decided with guidance from your doctor. It is important to be prepared in case of an unexpected reaction. In order to do so, a patient is advised to always carry their medications with them and two epinephrine shots. The epinephrine shots can be easily self-administered and come handy in case of emergency.

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  • Reasons why you shouldn’t worry about aging

    Aging is a part of life; there is nothing to worry about if you know what to expect and how to prepare for it in advance. Indeed, you may not be as strong and suffer from aches and pains more often. However, by ensuring that you take care of your health now, you can slow down your body’s aging process. Read on to know more about aging, its signs, and how to take care of yourself.

    What are the signs of aging?

    Aging is a subjective process and can not be generally categorized. Aging is associated with psychological, biological, and physiological changes. The most easily noticeable and early signs of aging are graying of hair followed by drastic changes that affect the working and functioning of a person.

    However, with timely medical check-ups, proper diet, and exercise you can ensure that you are healthy and prepared for anything that aging throws at you.

    What happens when you age?

    As mentioned above the human body goes through a multitude of changes. The heart, bones and joints, muscles, brain, digestive and urinary tracts, and senses weaken with age and do not perform optimally.

    The heart is especially affected by age as its muscles begin to stiffen leading to heart problems and high blood pressure. Your bones shrink in size and density, making you easily prone to fractures and injuries. Your muscles’ endurance and flexibility deteriorate, making performing simple tasks difficult. Furthermore, your cognitive abilities can diminish causing you to forget more often.

    Your control over your digestive and urinary tracts reduce, making you pee more often. Additionally, certain types of food may cause indigestion or other gastrointestinal ailments. Lastly, the capabilities of your sensory organs diminish as well, leading to poor eyesight or loss of hearing.

    What preventive measures can you take for a better old age?

    Aging is an inevitable and natural process; therefore, you need not worry. Instead, incorporate healthy lifestyle choices to ensure that you are prepared for old age. To help you, here are some useful pointers.

    • Exercise regularly: A healthy body can withstand the rigors of aging. You can either go to the gym regularly or simply add a physical activity that you enjoy to your routine. This activity can include swimming, walking, or playing any outdoor sport. The aim is to keep yourself fit and take a break from your sedentary lifestyle.
    • Visit your doctor: As you age, ensure that you go to your doctor for regular physicals. This way you will be able to diagnose any underlying conditions before they become serious. Moreover, doctors can also prescribe preventive measures or changes to your lifestyle if necessary.
    • Change your diet: Substitute fried and sugary foods for salads, whole grains, and leafy greens. Ensure that you get sufficient amounts of nutrients and vitamins from your food. For a more specific diet consult your doctor.
    • Reduce alcohol consumption and smoking: Alcohol and smoking cause your body to age faster due to the effect they have on your heart, liver, and lungs. As you grow older, your organs won’t be able to function optimally, and alcohol and smoking can further worsen their condition.
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  • Simple ways to avoid relapse after recovery

    Addiction is a compulsive activity of abuse that induces temporary pleasure. These substances can be anything from alcohol, medications, and other stimulants. The overuse of such substances has a detrimental effect on the body and mind. Therefore, even after successful treatment, the road to complete recovery is challenging.

    To avoid relapse, here are simple ways one can try to cope with withdrawal symptoms and fight temptations.

    Support system
    The simplest way to cope with addiction is to build a support system of trustworthy friends. One must remember that recovery is a long process and your friends and family can help you overcome temptations and fight withdrawal symptoms. Note that while treatment conditions the body to be independent of the substance, support and therapy conditions the mind to avoid chances of a relapse. Seek sponsors or former addicts who are now sober and can advise you based on their experience. Learning from their experience will certainly instill confidence in your ability to not relapse.

    Attend group sessions
    Group therapy sessions provide recovering addicts with a platform to share their positive efforts towards recovery. Here, recovering addicts gather to openly discuss their addictions in a positive light and share their experiences on how they managed to overcome temptations and avoid relapse. Talking about positive outcomes reinforces the confidence to accept new changes boldly and continue on the path of an addiction-free lifestyle. Many of these group sessions feature step-wise programs to gradually help the transition. The program also rewards people who successfully complete a step to encourage them to keep going even when it’s difficult.

    Cope with stress
    Addiction mostly starts as an escape from stress, making stress one of the top reasons for drug and alcohol abuse. Therefore, it is necessary that you find a better way to manage stress. Finding alternatives to manage stress during recovery is the key to ensuring that relapse never happens. Some quick relief strategies include regular exercise or any activity that boosts endorphins (happy hormones). This could range from spending quality time with your pet to pampering oneself. Engaging in such activities boosts your morale and blocks thoughts that can cause a relapse into addiction.

    Stay distracted
    Distractions are not always bad, especially if one is trying to avoid thoughts that can trigger a relapse. Make a list of distractions that one can resort to every time craving strikes. It can be difficult to avoid the craving altogether, but healthy distractions can help one refocus all energy to improve their emotional wellbeing. Reading, going to the movies, socializing with friends and family, or even immersing oneself in a pleasurable hobby can distract one from urges.

    Addictions can easily take a toll on one’s personal and professional life. Therefore, it is crucial to remind oneself about the negative consequences of a relapse.

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  • Practical tips for managing ADHD in adults

    Living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as an adult is challenging. ADHD can impact almost every aspect of an individual’s life, including personal and professional relationships. Further, it can also take a toll on one’s health. Even trivial day-to-day activities such as paying bills on time, managing work, and keeping up with the demands of family and friends can be overwhelming. Some common adult ADHD symptoms include disorganization, having a hard time meeting deadlines, and impulsive behavior.

    But the good news is that one can learn and practice certain skills that can help them manage the symptoms of ADHD. One can start by improving their daily habits, and slowly develop skills that can help them remain organized, improve interaction with friends and colleagues, and become efficient. Remember that these self-help tips for managing ADHD require patience, practice, and a positive attitude. That said, here are effective tips that one can employ to deal with ADHD.

    • Organize every detail

    Lack of focus is one of the major symptoms of ADHD, which makes organizing anything one of the biggest challenges. However, one can learn to organize things in a better way by breaking down tasks into smaller steps and taking a systematic approach. For instance, while sorting out the room, one can create designated spots for things that can be easily misplaced such as keys and bills. Discarding things that one no longer needs helps in finding important stuff easily.

    Additionally, one must cultivate a habit of making lists and notes of their daily tasks, deadlines, and appointments. If one is facing trouble with organizing paperwork, it is better to patiently set a filing system with color codes for different documents. Alternatively, one can opt to go paperless as much as possible by requesting electronic statements and bills.

    • Manage time better

    Adults with ADHD often face issues with managing time. They tend to lose track of time, miss deadlines, and procrastinate. Experts say that adults with ADHD tend to have a distinct perception of how time passes. So to align one’s sense of time with people around, one can always wear a simple wristwatch, and take note of time before beginning a particular task.

    It’s much helpful if one uses an alarm clock and designates oneself with limited amounts of time for tasks. However, do remember that one does not need to panic if they are unable to complete the activity on time. Another thing that an adult with ADHD should learn is prioritizing tasks based on their deadline and importance. This way, they will not be overwhelmed when deadlines approach. Also, one must always remember to take things one at a time until completion.

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  • Essential factors of mental health issues

    There are a lot of misconceptions that people have about mental health. With the little information on mental health, people are often narrow-minded when it comes to treating mental illnesses and often this causes a big problem for those who have mental health problems. To help you understand better, we are here to provide you with the details of mental health problems, which include its stages, diagnosis, and treatment.

    Stages of mental health issues
    The following stages are generally experienced by patients:

    • Stage 1: Preconception
      When the patient is in this stage, they may mostly be in denial. It is possible that they point out that something seems off but they are fully capable of going about with their usual routine.
    • Stage 2: Contemplation
      At this stage, it is clear that the patient needs medical help. The symptoms have started to set in, and it has now started to affect the day-to-day routine of the patient.
    • Stage 2: Crisis
      If stages 1 and 2 are dealt with in the right way, this stage can be avoided. If not, the patient may face a nervous breakdown.
    • Stage 4: Getting Help
      This stage should ideally come before the crisis for the problem to be averted. However, more often than not help is asked for after the crisis is in sight.
    • Stage 5: Engagement
      This is the first step toward improvement as the problem is addressed and guided by a healthcare professional.
    • Stage 6: Recovery
      The patient may show real development at this stage by tackling problems. The healthcare professional would help the patient to cope with their problems.
    • Stage 7: Maintenance
      This stage is like a follow-up for the treatment. The patient should always report the development of their healthcare professional to avoid any unexpected issues that can affect their progress.

    Diagnosis of mental health problems
    These diagnosis methods are the most commonly used by doctors.

    • Conducting physical tests
      There are times when a patient’s physical health issues may affect their mental state of mind. This is where a physical test will help, as it will help the doctor diagnose the illness.
    • Evaluating the patient’s mental state
      The patient will be asked about their thoughts and behavioral patterns. They will also be asked to describe their symptoms and how these affect their routine. During this, the doctor will also be observing and making a note of how the patient’s temperament is during the session.
    • Testing the patient’s cognitive abilities
      During this test, the doctor will test the patient’s memory, ability to focus apply logic, etc. The doctor will also test their ability to solve basic math tests and the ability to identify different shapes and sizes.

    Treatment of mental health problems
    Patients could be given medication to treat mental illness. These medications could include antipsychotic medicines, anti-depressants, mood-stabilizing medicines, and medications for anxiety. Psychotherapy is another effective way in which patients could be treated under the guidance of a therapist. Brain stimulations are also a common way in which patients are treated. It is mostly used for depression cases, and often when medication and therapy have failed.

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  • Oral health issues and their diagnosis and prevention

    Oral health indicates overall health, so regular oral hygiene is important to prevent cavities, bad breath, gum diseases, and other mouth and teeth issues. Also, oral health is important at every stage of life, and it should not be taken lightly as oral diseases can also spread to the rest of the body. Let’s take a look at the basics of oral health issues and how to prevent them.

    Common oral health problems
    Oral health problems can affect people at different stages of lives:

    • Infants
      A routine to help children maintain oral hygiene. When a child starts getting their first teeth, parents should wipe their gums with a clean, moist washcloth. Gradually, they can change this washcloth to a toothbrush for kids. Also, a child must be taken for their first dental visit within 6 months of the first tooth erupting, which should be not later than a kid’s first birthday. Additionally, parents should always stop children from sucking their thumbs as it can affect their tooth alignment. Also, never let them sleep with a bottle in their mouth as this can cause tooth decay.
    • Children and teenagers
      Many who have crooked teeth start showing signs between the ages of 6 and 12. Also, people may start getting wisdom teeth in their late teens, which may have to be removed as they often cause pain and develop infections.
    • Adults
      Among adults, gum diseases are the most common oral health issues. Also, many adults grind their teeth while sleeping, which is a serious health concern as it affects their teeth and jaws. Many do not take care properly for their mouth and teeth, which is the leading cause of cavities. Once a person’s cavity gets too deep, a root canal is the only way to treat it.
    • Senior citizens
      Medications are common among seniors for various reasons, and this often causes dry mouth, which can lead to a tooth decay. The risk for gum diseases and mouth cancer also increases with age, so seniors should take special care to maintain oral hygiene.

    Diagnosis of oral health problems
    A simple dental examination is used for diagnosing most oral diseases. This exam includes the dentist examining an individual’s tongue, throat, jaw, cheeks, neck, and mouth and teeth. Also, dentists use several tools and instruments for the measurement of a person’s gum pockets. With the measurement of this small scale, a dentist will be able to tell whether the person has receding gums or any other gum disease. Usually, the pockets between the teeth should measure between 1 and 3mm, so if the measurement is beyond these numbers, the person is said to have a gum disease.

    In the case of oral cancer, dentists prescribe MRI scan, X-ray, CT scan, and an endoscopy in order to diagnose the spread of the cancer.

    Prevention of oral health problems
    Here are some tips to prevent mouth and teeth problems:

    • One should visit a dentist annually for a comprehensive check-up and cleaning
    • It’s best to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride and brush twice a day
    • The toothbrush should be changed every 3 to 4 months or as soon as it’s worn out
    • Clean the tongue is also important while brushing
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  • Autoimmune diseases – All you need to know

    The immune system of our body is constantly fighting against viruses and bacteria. Its job is to protect us from foreign cells that try to harm us. However, there are certain illnesses that can result in your immune system attacking your own healthy cells. These illnesses are known as autoimmune diseases. They cause the immune system to treat certain body parts as foreign elements and release auto-antibodies to attack the cells.

    Causes of autoimmune diseases
    Exactly what causes the autoimmune diseases is still unknown, but researchers around the world have come up with a few possibilities. While genetics can be at fault, your diet, certain infections, and exposure to specific chemicals may also result in autoimmune diseases.

    Types of autoimmune diseases
    There are many different types of autoimmune diseases that affect your immune system and cause it to attack the healthy cells in your body. Below is a list of the most common types.

    • Type 1 diabetes
      This causes the immune system to attack the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
      This illness forces the immune system to attack the joints in the body and results in stiffness, soreness, and redness.
    • Multiple sclerosis
      The nerve cells in the human body are protected by a coating called the myelin sheath. Multiple sclerosis makes the immune system attack this protective coating. The damage results in numbness, balance-related issues, weakness, and walking difficulties.

    Other than these, there are many forms of autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

    Diagnosis
    Immune-systemrelated illnesses are hard to diagnose with any single test. That is why multiple medical tests are performed to determine the type of autoimmune disease one may have. The one test that is most commonly used by doctors is the Antinuclear Antibody test, which can tell if you have any autoimmune disease, but the test cannot confirm which one. Different other tests are performed to determine that. The doctors also need to determine the presence of certain auto-antibodies to know which type of autoimmune disease the patient has. There are multiple tests that are used for this. The body is also examined for inflammations as they can indicate autoimmune diseases, too.

    Prevention of autoimmune diseases
    There are certain ways you can limit the chances of autoimmune diseases. The very first thing to do is to avoid certain toxins like pollution, lead mercury, uranium, cadmium, pesticides, synthetic estrogens, and alcohol. You must also avoid smoking and maintain an anti-inflammatory diet. Researches have shown that improved gut health can also lower the risk of autoimmune diseases. You can maintain the health of your gut by avoiding sugar and grains. Your diet should include more fruits and vegetables that are rich in dietary fiber. Getting enough sleep regularly can also help to reduce the possibility of autoimmune diseases.

    While the autoimmune diseases cannot be treated, there are medicines that can control the overreaction of the immune response. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing medications can treat inflammation, swelling, pain, skin rashes, and fatigue caused by autoimmune disorders.

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  • Stages, diagnosis, and prevention of heartburn

    Heartburn and GERD are often used interchangeably. However, heartburn is a common symptom experienced by people who suffer from acid reflux, and if heartburn occurs more than just twice in a week, the condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the condition affects as many as 20 percent of the country’s total population.

    Stages of GERD

    GERD is a progressive condition, and the treatment offered depends on the stage of the condition. How severely the reflux is taking place into the esophagus determines the stage of the condition. So, the various stages of GERD are:

    Stage I

    At this stage, the symptoms of the condition are mild and occur about once or twice the month. The treatment at this stage involves more lifestyle changes combined with some over-the-counter medications.

    Stage II

    When a patient is at this stage, the symptoms become more frequent and the need to take an acid-suppressive medication arises. If the medication is not taken, the symptoms of the condition can become severe and can interfere with the daily routine of the patient. When left untreated, the symptoms are also linked with inflammation of the esophagus.

    Stage III

    Patients at this stage have symptoms that cannot be treated with prescription medications. The symptoms interfere with their day-to-day tasks and affect their quality of life. Esophageal inflammation is also common at this stage. Patients at this stage need expert advice and an anti-reflux procedure can be done to enhance the quality of life.

    Stage IV

    When GERD is left untreated for many years, it leads to this stage which is also known as esophageal cancer. Out of the total patients with long-term GERD, 10% go on to progress to this stage. At this stage, these patients suffer from Barrett’s esophagus, which is a condition that occurs before cancer. If at this stage, the patient does not get treatment, their condition can progress and can eventually lead to cancer.

    Diagnosis

    To diagnose GERD, your doctor will check the history of your symptoms and will conduct a physical exam. In some cases, the doctors might also want to check for any complications caused by the condition. In such situations, the following tests can be ordered:

    • Upper endoscopy
    • Ambulatory acid probe test
    • Esophageal manometry
    • An X-ray conducted on the upper part of the digestive system

    Prevention

    There are several ways to prevent GERD. These include the following:

    Lose extra weight
    One of the main causes of GERD is obesity or unhealthy body weight. When there is extra fat on the stomach, it causes pressure on the abdomen area and creates pressure on the gastric juices. This sends the juices up to the esophagus and causes heartburn and GERD.

    Avoid certain foods

    There are certain foods known to put you at the risk of GERD. Therefore, you must refrain from consuming:

    • Spicy food
    • Foods rich in acid such as tomatoes
    • Mint
    • Coffee
    • Onions
    • Chocolates
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