GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a more severe form of acid reflux and can cause lifelong health problems if not treated. This article explores the meaning of GERD, Acid Reflux, symptoms, and treatment.
GERDS Relationship With Acid Reflux
GERD has many of the same symptoms as acid reflux. The main difference is that GERD can cause more severe symptoms and long-term damage to the esophagus. Left untreated, GERD can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that increases the risk of cancer.
Acid reflux is the burning pain that often accompanies GERD. It’s also known as heartburn. GERD isn’t just one condition but an umbrella term used to describe several problems involving acid in the digestive tract.
GERD can be caused by too much stomach acid or regurgitation of food and acid back up into the esophagus (acid indigestion). On the other hand, acid reflux describes only the regurgitation part of GERD.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) acts as a valve that keeps stomach acid from entering the esophagus in healthy individuals. In people with GERD, this valve does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to escape into the esophagus and causing GERD symptoms.
Symptoms For GERD
The common symptoms of GERD are:
- Heartburn resulting from extreme burning pain experienced in the chest, usually after eating a heavy or spicy meal
- A sour or bitter taste in your mouth, especially when you wake up in the morning
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Excessive belching and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
GERD can also lead to more severe health problems such as:
- Barrett’s esophagus: a condition that can cause cancer of the esophagus
- Stricture: a narrowing of the esophagus that makes it difficult to swallow
- Asthma: GERD may make asthma symptoms worse
- Chronic cough: GERD is a common cause of chronic cough
Suppose you are experiencing any of these symptoms regularly. In that case, you should see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Treatments For GERD
There are several effective treatments for GERD. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and quitting smoking can help reduce symptoms.
Some medications are available to help GERD patients manage their symptoms. These medications include:
- Proton pump inhibitors
- H2 blockers
You can find most anti-acid medications over-the-counter at most pharmacies. These medications work to either block the production of stomach acids, reduce the amount of acid produced, or coat the esophagus to help minimize acid damage.
Consider a person’s GERD symptoms persist after making lifestyle changes and taking medication. In that case, they should visit a gastroenterologist for further evaluation and treatment.
When To See A Gastroenterologist About GERD
If you are experiencing GERD symptoms, it’s essential to see a gastroenterologist for further evaluation. Your doctor will be able to determine whether you have GERD and, if so, what treatment is best for you.
Suppose lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications do not relieve GERD symptoms. In that case, your doctor may prescribe more vital medicines. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying problem causing GERD.
Gastro Florida Can Help You Manage GERD
Do you need more information and care to help with your GERD symptoms? Gastro Florida’s team of professionals is here to help. Set up an appointment with us today, servicing several areas throughout Florida.