Do You Have GERD Symptoms or an Ulcer? Find Out with This Quiz

Take this short quiz to learn if you have GERD symptoms or an ulcer! Practising specific tips can help you manage either condition effectively.

Woman holding her stomach in pain

A burning, painful sensation in your stomach is one of the most common GERD symptoms. However, its symptoms are similar to those of a peptic ulcer. If you’re wondering which one you have, this short quiz should help. You’ll be able to understand your condition better and develop a treatment plan with your healthcare provider. 

Determining the Reasons Behind Your Abdominal Pain and Discomfort

Woman covering her mouth with her right hand as she’s about to vomit
Vomiting is a common sign of both GERD and peptide ulcers.

There are numerous reasons why you may be suffering abdominal pain. Learn to identify if you are experiencing GERD symptoms or an ulcer.

Are You Ready to Learn If You Have GERD or Peptic Ulcers?

Man holding his throat in discomfort
Experiencing pain when trying to swallow food is a symptom of GERD.

If your answers are mostly A’s 

You are most likely experiencing GERD. According to Real Health Medical’s Chief Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician Chu I Ta, there are three groups of people who are commonly diagnosed with the condition.

First group

The first group usually consists of people who are living a high-paced lifestyle, such as perfectionists and those who are experiencing work stress. These can lead to overactive sympathetic nerves and a malfunction of the intestine peristalsis motion.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that overstressed people or those undergoing any negative emotional changes can have an imbalance and stagnation of liver qi (vital life energy), which is essential for regulating the digestive system.  

“This group of people are suffering from what TCM practitioners would diagnose as liver-stomach disharmony and a disruption to stomach qi circulation,” explains physician Chu. To relieve GERD symptoms, it’s important to develop good eating habits and practise stress relief. Focusing on your food consumption, resting after eating a heavy meal, and brisk walking can also help alleviate acid reflux. In addition, TCM highlights the use of TCM ingredients like ark shell (瓦楞子, walengzi), oyster shell (牡蛎, muli), chayote (佛手, foshou), Corydalis Rhizoma (延胡索, yanhusuo) and toosendan fruit(川楝子, chuanlianzi) to regulate liver qi and promote harmony between the liver and stomach.   

Second group

The second group of people prone to GERD have irregular meals daily. They like to skip breakfast and have a heavy meal right before bedtime. Moreover, consuming spicy, sweet or high-fat foods can also provoke gastric acid secretion disorders and increase the digestive secretion burden on the stomach. These types of food usually take longer to digest, delaying the gastric emptying process. Consequently, food and gastric acid stays in the stomach longer and stirs up tension in the lower oesophageal sphincter. 

Bile is responsible for the digestion of oily foods. Excess bile secretion will occur when you consume large amounts of oily and greasy food, leaving a bitter taste in a person’s mouth. To clear stagnation and improve digestion, you can consume foods like black fungus, Chinese yam and lotus root. These foods can support the production of the gastrointestinal mucosa and may also reduce the cytopathic effect − structural changes in host cells due to viral invasion − of gastric acid irritation. 

Third group

The third group of people who are at risk of developing GERD are those with chronic constipation. Long-term constipation will disrupt intestinal pressure, push compressed food back to the stomach, and trigger the occurrence of acid reflux. Generally, exercise is fundamental for promoting gastrointestinal motility, preventing long hours of sitting and resolving constipation and obesity. 

It’s also worth noting that TCM categorises constipation into two distinct syndromes – excessive and deficient (blood or qi deficiency). The use of herbs like Chinese peony (白芍, baishao), Citrus aurantium (枳实, zhishi), Houpoea Officinalis (厚朴, houpo) and rhubarb (大黄, dahuang) can help to alleviate excessive syndrome.

Astragalus (黄芪haungqi), Tangshen (党参Dangshen), Atractylodes macrocephala (白术, baizhu) and poria (茯苓, fuling) can treat qi deficiency syndrome.

You can also attenuate a blood deficiency syndrome, with herbs like Prunus perscia (桃仁, taoren), Angelica Sinensis (当归, danggui), and Notopterygium incisum (羌活, qianghuo). 

Interestingly, GERD can also happen to children. Typically, the disorder spawns from an immature digestive tract, an increase in pressure below the oesophagus, and potential factors that prevent relaxation of the muscular valve between the stomach and oesophagus.

Obesity, overeating, oily and spicy foods, and caffeinated beverages contribute to GERD amongst older children. Some of the most common symptoms of GERD in children are heartburn, abdominal pain, and recurrent vomiting. You may also have a sour taste in the mouth and difficulty eating.

If your answers are mostly B’s

You are most likely experiencing ulcers. TCM perceives ulcers to be severe inflammation of the mucosa. Irregular mealtimes, eating too fast or too much, and consuming inflammatory foods can aggravate your GERD symptoms. These habits can also set off ulcers or other gastrointestinal disorders. 

Hence, you should refrain from consuming spicy, sweet, deep-fried or high-fat foods as they irritate the oesophagus lining. Likewise, you should also avoid fruits like grapefruit, mango, pineapple, oranges, and tomatoes, especially after meals. Limit caffeine or dairy-based beverages as well.

Good eating habits are crucial too. Make sure to chew your food and steer clear from conversations during mealtimes. Taking a brisk walk after eating will also help to improve digestion. According to physician Chu, you can stimulate acupoints like Zusanli, ST36 (足三里), Tianshu, ST25 (天枢) and Zhongwan, RN 12 (中脘) daily to reduce stomach distention and the risk of GERD. However, you should only use herbal formulations or ingredients that a TCM practitioner prescribes.

Understanding ulcer or GERD symptoms is a significant step in helping a person alleviate the pain and discomfort they experience. If you’ve become more attuned with your condition, share this quiz with your loved ones!

References

  1. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. 2010. Overview: Symptoms of GERD. [Accessed 6 November 2021] 
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & Causes of Peptic Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers). [Accessed 6 November 2021] 
  3. Optum Perks. 2021. Do you have an ulcer or GERD? Here’s how to tell the difference. [Accessed 6 November 2021] 

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