What is GERD
GERD is the acronym for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and occurs when contents in the stomach flow back into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
Are you wondering if you might be suffering from GERD?
The most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux deiease are heartburn and/or acid regurgitation. Less common symptoms include but are not limited to unexplained chest pain, wheezing, sore throat and cough.
Not sure if what you are feeling is heartburn?
Usually heartburn feels like a burning sensation behind the breast bone. This happens when the stomach contents (i.e. those spicy wings, or acidy spaghetti sauce) irritate the lining of the stomach.
How do I know that it’s acid regurgitation?
This is the sensation of stomach fluid coming up through the chest and may sometimes even reach the mouth.
So what causes Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
GERD occurs when there is an imbalance in the mechanisms of the esophagus and factors such as stomach acid and other digestive juices and enzymes in the stomach.
Most commonly, GERD is a result of an impaired barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. These impairments can result from are weakening of the muscle (lower esophageal sphincter). the presences of a hiatal hernia, or obesity. Obesity, pregnancy, smoking, alcohol and consumption of foods such as coffee, fatty foods and high acidity food can contribute to GERD symptoms.
How is GERD diagnosed?
Usually when a patient experience the common symptoms, heartburn and/or acid regurgitation, of GERD additional test are typically unnecessary. If the patient does not respond to treatment or shows additional symptoms, additional testing may be necessary.
How is Gatroesophageal Reflux Disease treated?
Often times GERD disappears if dietary or lifestyle changes are made that cause the symptoms. Avoid items such as these might help you reduce or avoid your discomfort:
• Citrus drinks
• Tomato-based products
• Carbonated beverages
• Fatty food
• Spicy foods
• Eating within 3 hours of bedtime
• Excessive alcohol consumption
Often times, over-the-counter antacids help to reduce discomfort, however, these only work for a short period of time. These are often most helpful for people with mild reflux symptoms.
For reflux symptoms that occur more frequently, proton pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, dexlansoprazole, pantoprzole, esomeprazole, and rabeprazole) are the most effective medical treatment. Most of these medications work well, are safe and have few side effects. However, there is an increased risk of certain side effects with high doses or long-term use and you should discuss this with your doctor.
In extreme cases of GERD surgery can be an option. If symptoms persist despite medical treatment, a comprehensive evaluation should be completed prior to surgery. The surgery for GERD is called fundoplication. In this procedure, a hiatial hernia, if present, is removed and part of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus to strengthen the barrier between the stomah and the esophagus. Usually the surgery is done laparoscopicly.
When should I see my doctor?
If you are suffering from symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, trouble swallowing or internal bleeding in addition to heartburn and/or acid regurgitation, it is important that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. Lastly, if you are using over-the-counter medication regularly to reduce symptoms such as heartburn and acid regurgitation you should consult a physician to determine the best course of treatment for you.