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"Can GERD cause constipation?"
I'm beginning to suspect I have GERD, because I've had heartburn more often than not for a few months now. But I've also been constipated. Is the constipation a symptom of GERD, or is it a sign that I'm dealing with something else?
GERD is gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a process of abnormal reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. As you have experienced, heartburn is a common result of this process, which results from irritation of the mucosal lining of the esophagus and stomach. If the disease process is severe enough, other symptoms can develop as well, such as excessive salivation, chronic cough, pain with swallowing, and difficulty with swallowing. Symptoms of GERD are all related directly to changes within the upper gastrointestinal tract (ie, the stomach and esophagus), and have no significant impact on the lower tract (the small and large intestines). As such, GERD has no relation to constipation, which most commonly occurs as a result of abnormalities in the large intestine. If you have been experiencing heartburn for several months, you should discuss your symptoms with your primary care physician. There are a number of effective lifestyle modifications and medications which can be used to help treat your GERD. At the same time, you should discuss your difficulty with constipation. Your physician should be able to suggest changes to your diet to help make your bowel movements more regular, and if needed, he/she can prescribe stool softeners as well.
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