If you are consistently experiencing issues with your digestive system including heartburn, then you may be suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD for short. If this is becoming a problem for you, then don’t worry as the good news is that treatment is available.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)?
The term ‘gastroesophageal reflux’ is constructed from three words:
- Gastro – meaning stomach
- Esophageal – meaning the esophagus (the tube that connects the pharynx to the stomach)
- Reflux – meaning to ‘flow back’
The full term explains the circumstances where the contents of the stomach are allowed to flow back into the esophagus. This is usually because the muscular tube known as the lower esophageal sphincter has weakened and is no longer strong enough to keep the entry point to the stomach fully closed. This means that food and stomach acid flows back into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux?
The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux is heartburn. This is a burning sensation that typically begins in the heart area and moves upward through the throat and to the back of the mouth. Heartburn can last between a few minutes and several hours and can be treated by the taking of anti-acids.
Most people experience heartburn now and again, but people with gastroesophageal reflux typically suffer from heartburn on a daily basis, and even after every meal they eat.
How is GERD treated?
As mentioned above, heartburn can be treated with antacids, but the daily pain of heartburn via gastroesophageal reflux can be difficult to live with and can lead to other health problems. Someone suffering from GERD typically requires a longer-term solution.
The first step in treating GERD is to make dietary improvements. Some foods such as chocolate, coffee, alcoholic beverages, and fatty foods can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter. Others such as fruit juice, citrus fruits, and tomatoes can irritate the esophageal lining. The advice given to people suffering from GERD is to avoid such dietary items.
If dietary changes do not work, then alternative solutions will be explored
If the avoidance of food and other related beverages does not improve matters, then further exploration is the next step. A physician will typically run a series of tests and ask about a patient’s eating, drinking, smoking and exercise habits. An endoscopic examination may also be undertaken before a treatment schedule is suggested. This typically involves the use of medications that are designed to suppress the production of acid.
A small number of people suffering from GERD may need surgery, but this option is only typically undertaken when all other treatments have failed to produce results. There are a number of possible surgical procedures, but they are all designed to improve the effectiveness of the lower esophageal sphincter.
If you would like to learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for GERD, then please contact us here at Great Lakes Gastroenterology. You can also inquire about any health-related issue connected to your gut. Please contact us at (440) 205-1225 or use the online contact form we’ve made available for you on our website.Leave a reply