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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Know the basics

What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that affects the lower esophageal sphincter. There are many people experiencing GERD, including pregnant women. In fact it is the most common digestive condition to cause heartburn or acid indigestion.

In GERD, the stomach contents leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus, causing discomfort and could lead to esophageal mucosal injury. This happens because of a damaged lower esophageal sphincter. When this sphincter doesn’t close all the way, the content can leak from the stomach to the esophagus.

How common is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

This health condition is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

You may find that you have GERD if you have following symptoms:

  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to the throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth;
  • Chest pain;
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia);
  • Dry cough;
  • Hoarseness or sore throat;
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux);
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should go to see you doctor or take test to diagnose with GERD when your signs and symptoms occur at least twice each week or if GERD cause any difficulties in your daily life. GERD can be treated by changing lifestyles and over-the-counter medications. Sometimes, it requires strong medications or even surgery to relieve the symptoms.

Know the causes

What causes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

Stomach acid or bile into the esophagus is determined to be the main causes of GERD.

Naturally, food and liquid will flow down into your stomach. When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter around the bottom part of your esophagus will relax to let the foods go to your stomach. After that, it closes again.

However, if abnormalities or weaknesses happen in this valve, it will allow the stomach’s content to flow back up into your esophagus. This process is called acid reflux. When acid reflux happens repeatedly, it can cause other gastrodigestive symptoms.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

Your risk of GERD can be increased by many factors, such as:

  • Obesity;
  • Hiatal hernia;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Smoking;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Asthma;
  • Diabetes;
  • Delayed stomach emptying;
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) diagnosed?

Your doctor will base on your symptoms to diagnose GERD. Probably, some tests may be performed to confirm your condition, such as:

  • Ambulatory acid (pH) probe tests use a device to measure acid for 24 hours.
  • Endoscopy uses a flexible tube to look inside your esophagus and collecting some sample of tissue (biopsy) for further testing.
  • Some tests to measure the movement of esophagus are also performed to measure pressure in the esophagus.
  • An X-ray of your upper digestive system uses barium and water mixture to coat the inner digestive system, making the esophagus stand out in the x-ray.

How is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) treated?

Many people treat GERD by using over-the-counter treatments at home, which may include:

  • Antacids that balance stomach acid, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Gelusil, Gaviscon, Rolaids and Tums, may provide quick relief.
  • Called H-2-receptor blockers, these medications include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) or ranitidine (Zantac).
  • Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus, include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR) and omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid OTC).

You may need surgery and other procedures if your symptoms get worse and medications don’t help.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

GERD can be controlled by changing some habits which affects your health. You can consider trying these methods to get relieved:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn, such as fried food, ketchup, chocolate, spicy food, onion.
  • Avoid eating big meal.
  • Avoid lying down after meal.
  • Avoid smoking.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.


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