Tuesday, 13 April 2021 | 10:21 WIB

Stress Becomes Main Factor of GERD during COVID-19 Pandemic

Stress Becomes Main Factor of GERD during COVID-19 Pandemic (illustration: pixabay)

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Stress plays a significant role in the cause of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) during COVID-19 pandemic, says Rabbinu Rangga Pribadi, a medical staff of Gastroenterology Division in the Department of Internal Diseases at RSCM-FKUI.

"Research found that almost half of GERD patients reported that stress was the highest factor that worsened the symptoms," Rabbinu said during a webinar on Saturday.

Stress is strongly related to the cause of GERD. Nowadays, there are so many people who feel pressured due to job losses, losing their family members, and not being able to travel freely because of COVID-19 pandemic.

Stress or anxiety becomes one of GERD risk factors, the same goes to the unhealthy lifestyle like smoking and obesity. The other factors are a large portions of food consumption, drugs, pregnancy, consuming food which triggers acid reflux, and laying down right after eating.

GERD is a disease that is caused by the acid reflux which triggers particular symptoms and complications. The symptoms are heartburn, the feeling of wanting to throw up, and regurgitation. The other symptoms are coughing, hoarseness, having a hard time swallowing, teeth erosion, chest pain, bitterness in the tongue, and the feeling like something is stuck in the oesophagus.

GERD is different from gastric pain, but both of them are related to gastric acid. In normal conditions, the gastric acid stays in the gastric chamber, but it flows back into the oesophagus in the case of GERD patients. Many people all over the world suffer from this disease. According to 2016 data, about 24.8% of Indonesians suffer from GERD.

Rabbinu said GERD can be overcome by taking medicine, but it is not effective if the patients do not change their lifestyle. GERD patients should change their lifestyle by maintaining an ideal weight, routine exercise, and quit smoking, drinking alcohol, and food with lots of fats. They also need to change the way they sleep by putting their head 20cm higher than their body, avoiding a big portion of food at night and snack, and not laying down three hours after eating.

He explains that GERD patients need to do endoscopy if their condition does not get better after taking medicine or changing their lifestyle. They also need to do it if they experience severe symptoms like continuous vomiting, blood vomiting, dark faeces, hard of swallowing, anaemia, and weight loss.

"This disease does not cause death, but it really disturbs the daily activities of the patients," Rabbinu said.

He added that the GERD treatments are different for each individual. That is why a consultation with a doctor is needed for optimal treatment.