Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common digestive disorder that affects nearly 20% of the population. It occurs when stomach acid or bile backs up into the esophagus, resulting in painful symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain. It can be difficult to manage if left untreated, but fortunately, there are a variety of treatment options available to help control the symptoms of GERD.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid or bile backs up into the esophagus. This causes discomfort and pain in the chest, as well as heartburn and regurgitation. GERD can cause serious complications such as bleeding, ulcers, and scarring in the esophagus if left untreated.
How is GERD Diagnosed?
- The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about any symptoms.
- Tests such as an endoscopy, X-ray, or pH monitor may also be used to diagnose GERD.
- Blood tests may be done to check for anemia, which can be a sign of GERD.
- The doctor may also recommend imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan to check for any changes in the esophagus.
Symptoms of GERD
- Heartburn– a burning sensation in the chest or throat
- Regurgitation– a sour or acidic taste in the mouth
- Chest pain – a burning or tightness in the chest
- Difficulty swallowing– feeling like food is stuck in your throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Hoarseness – a change in the sound of your voice
- Bad breath– caused by stomach acid and air being regurgitated into the mouth
- Wheezing or coughing – caused by the acid irritating the lungs
When to See a Doctor to Check GERD?
- If you experience any of the above symptoms
- If your symptoms are getting worse or not responding to home remedies or over-the-counter medications
- If you have unexpected weight loss, vomiting blood, or difficulty swallowing
- If you have chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes
- If you are pregnant and experience heartburn
Treatment for GERD
- Medication: Prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, and antacids can help reduce the production of stomach acid and provide relief from symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals can help reduce symptoms of GERD.
- Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged tissue in the esophagus.
- Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and herbal remedies may also be used to treat GERD symptoms.
- Make sure to talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Living with GERD
- Eat smaller meals more often, rather than eating large meals all at once.
- Avoid food and drinks that trigger symptoms, such as spicy or acidic foods.
- Quit smoking if possible, as smoking can worsen symptoms of GERD.
- Elevate the head of your bed to prevent stomach acid from entering the esophagus while you sleep.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to reduce pressure on the abdomen and help with digestion.
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating to give your body time to digest food.
- Try eating more fiber-rich foods to reduce symptoms of GERD.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can trigger GERD symptoms.
- Make sure to talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking, as certain drugs can increase the risk of GERD.
Popular Medication for GERD
- Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)
These drugs reduce the amount of acid that your stomach produces and can provide long-term relief from GERD.
- H2 blockers
Drugs that can block histamine, which reduces the production of acid in the stomach and provide short-term relief from GERD symptoms.
It neutralizes stomach acid and provides immediate relief from GERD symptoms.
These drugs help move food through the digestive system more quickly to reduce reflux.
They form a foam barrier that floats on top of the stomach acid, preventing it from entering the esophagus.
- Bile acid sequestrants
These drugs help reduce the amount of bile acids in the stomach, which can reduce symptoms of GERD.
- Prostaglandin analogues
They inhibit the production of gastric acid and provide long-term relief from GERD symptoms.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged tissue in the esophagus.
GERD is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, GERD can be managed effectively. If you think you may be suffering from GERD or if your symptoms are not responding to home remedies or over-the-counter medications, make sure to consult with your doctor. Your doctor can help you develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs and help you find relief from GERD symptoms.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) , 2022 –
- Diagnosis of GER & GERD , 2022 –
- Everything You Need to Know About Acid Reflux and GERD , 2022 – https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd