GERD is a prevalent condition where the stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing symptoms. It doesn’t usually lead to severe problems, but it can cause severe GERD complications if left untreated.
What Is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when your stomach contents flow back up from your stomach into your esophagus. Your esophagus is a tube that delivers food from your mouth to your stomach. When you swallow something, food and liquid go down the esophagus and into your stomach.
The muscles at the end of your esophagus relax and open to let food enter the stomach. Then they close again tightly to keep food and liquids from seeping back up into the esophagus. It occurs when this valve opens or relaxes at the wrong time, letting your stomach contents rise to the esophagus.
What Does GERD Feel Like?
It can feel like heartburn. Suppose it causes a large amount of acid to flow upward from your stomach. In that case, you may get symptoms such as A sour taste in your mouth, Acid reflux—rising acid levels in your throat, mouth Hoarseness Clearing your throat repeatedly, Sore throat Coughing, Wheezing Chest pain.
Difficulty swallowing food and liquids Burning sensation in your chest Lowering of the voice or change in vocal quality Continuing soreness after heartburn ends Constant need to clear your throat, or a frequent cough can also cause many other symptoms.
What Are GERD Symptoms?
The most common symptoms include heartburn—a burning pain in your chest that may travel up to your neck or down into your stomach Acid reflux Sour taste in the mouth Difficulty swallowing Hiccups Chronic clearing of the throat Wheezing and shortness of breath Cough, especially at night Chest pain Hoarseness Feeling like food is getting stuck sore throat can sometimes cause nausea and vomiting.
If left untreated or if severe GERD occurs, it may lead to complications such as erosion of the enamel on teeth, chronic coughing from acid reflux that causes a long-term cough known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), and GERD complications such as esophagitis. It may be a warning sign that you have complications, such as esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus, or complications such as reflux laryngitis
What Causes GERD?
The most common cause is too much stomach acid. But it can also occur with reduced amounts of stomach acid production. Babies sometimes develop it when they spit up frequently after feeding because this forces acidic contents from the stomach into the esophagus. It can also be triggered when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus because of a blockage in the digestive system.
Other causes may include: pregnancy and childbirth, obesity diets high in fat, chocolate, and caffeine, fatty food intake, smoking antidepressant use bulking agents scleroderma may also be caused by certain medications such as erythromycin, which is used to treat infections. It may cause a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, a type of precancerous change in cells in the esophagus that can sometimes lead to esophageal cancer.
People who frequently eat high-fat or greasy foods and drink alcohol or coffee often have symptoms. Lying down directly after eating may cause stomach contents and acids to flow more easily back up into your esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn. People who are overweight or obese may also have GERD symptoms because of the excess abdominal pressure on the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
How do you treat GERD?
Treatment varies depending on the symptoms you have and how severe they are. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications, or medical procedures.
Lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can reduce your symptoms and prevent complications in some people. These may include: losing weight, stopping smoking, avoiding fatty, greasy, or spicy foods, limiting alcohol intake, eating smaller meals, not lying down for at least three hours after eating. Doing regular exercises that strengthen your abdomen (abdominal) muscles can also help with symptoms.
Medication is usually managed by treating the symptoms rather than giving medicine to treat itself. So there are medications that either lower the amount of acid made in the stomach (antacids) or block the action of acid. These include Ranitidine (Zantac), famotidine (Pepcid AC), and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC). You may find that you have diarrhea as a side effect of either GERD medicine or GERD treatment.