Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is constipation normally an effect of GERD?"
I've been diagnosed with GERD for several years and I am pretty good at keeping it under control. But one thing that's been getting worse and worse over the years is constipation, which I have read in some places could be related. Is that true? How can I deal with the constipation other than just taking laxatives?
I am happy to hear that you are keeping your GERD under control. Chronic reflux can result in harm to your esophagus and increase you risk of getting cancer. Most cases of GERD and constipation are handled by primary care physicians, but if they are refractory to treatment or complicated, then some patients need to see a gastroenterologist. GERD and constipation are both gastrointestinal problems, but mot of the time they are not related. This does not mean that the two cannot happen in the same person, it just means that treating one won't cure the other. The only exception to this is that severe constipation can make GERD worse by increasing the pressure within the stomach. Most of the time patients with GERD complain of diarrhea because this is a side effect of one of the commonly prescribed medicine class the proton pump inhibitor (example omeprazole). The good news is that there are many great treatments out there for constipation that are not laxatives. You should start by scheduling an appointment to see your primary care physician. He or she knows your past medical history best and will be able to choose the safest medication out there. Your doctor may decide to start you off on a very mild safe stool softener such as Docusate.
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