What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a digestive disease that targets a bit of muscle found between the esophagus and the stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
It is marked by nausea, vomiting, bad breath, breathing/respiratory issues, or difficulty/pain swallowing.
GERD is experienced when acid from the stomach finds its way flowing back into the esophagus, which connects the stomach and throat.
This is commonly known as acid reflux and creates an irritating sensation in the lining of the esophagus, potentially causing severe damage to tissue.
Typically, this condition is diagnosed in those who experience acid reflux several timers per week.
What Causes GERD?
Simply put, it is the result of continual acid reflux.
Swallowing is accomplished when the LES relaxes, or opens, and allows food or drink to pass through to the stomach. If the LES becomes weakened or doesn’t open/close properly, stomach acid can pass back towards the throat, causing inflammation in the lining of the esophagus.
Pregnancy or obesity can lead to higher than usual pressure on the abdomen, increasing the chance of GERD. Certain medications can also lead to this diseases, as well as smoking.
How Is GERD Treated?
When it comes to treating those diagnosed with GERD, medication will usually be prescribed before exploring other treatments.
The most common pharmaceutical treatment for GERD are proton pump inhibitors. These drugs work to lower the overall amount of acid that the stomach can produce, leading to a smaller chance of reflux occurring.
It is not uncommon for doctors to also recommend lifestyle changes aimed at improving a patient’s diet and reducing acid reflux.
Severe cases of GERD can be treated with surgery. When symptoms persist after lifestyle changes and medications, surgical options available include fundoplication and endoscopic procedures.
Do You Think You Might Have GERD?
If you have experienced the symptoms of GERD and think a diagnosis is around the corner, make an appointment with Digestive Care Center today for an evaluation.