GERD Symptoms and Treatment

gerd symptoms and treatment

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is an increasingly prevalent digestive problem with serious potential repercussions, including inflammation, ulceration and potentially even esophageal cancer.

Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) vary between people, but some telltale signs include heartburn and acid regurgitation. If these are present for you, please seek medical advice concerning diagnosis and treatment of GERD.

Symptoms

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a digestive condition in which stomach acid moves back up the esophagus tube from your mouth and stomach (known as the esophagus) and back up into your throat, often resulting in heartburn and other unpleasant symptoms. Most people living with GERD can manage it through diet and medications, however.

If you have been experiencing heartburn and other GERD-related symptoms for an extended period, contact your healthcare provider and request that he or she order tests to diagnose you. They may then suggest further tests in order to confirm it.

Your doctor will also want to know about any medical conditions that exacerbate your GERD symptoms, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or asthma.

Heartburn is one of the hallmarks of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), manifesting as a burning pain in your chest that lasts over two hours after you eat. Other symptoms may include sour or bitter throat symptoms and regurgitation of food or liquid from the stomach into your mouth.

Some GERD symptoms may be the result of how your body’s muscle that controls the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes too often or for too long; when this happens, stomach acid can seep up into your esophagus and cause heartburn.

Other causes of GERD include pregnancy, obesity and smoking. You can reduce symptoms of GERD by eating a healthy, balanced diet low in fat, sugar and salt.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and chocolate for best results. Antacids or calcium-containing calcium supplements like chewable tablets or lozenges may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms.

Your doctor can suggest changes to your diet that can alleviate GERD symptoms, such as eating smaller meals and drinking water with each meal. Furthermore, keeping a food diary and recording which foods trigger your symptoms is also highly recommended.

Home remedies may help alleviate GERD symptoms. Some are straightforward and inexpensive; such as raising your head while sleeping six inches above stomach level; using a wedge pillow while sleeping can also raise both head and chest, decreasing heartburn or regurgitation risks.

Diagnosis

Un occasional heartburn or burning sensation in the chest is normal, but if it occurs more than twice weekly it could be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When this occurs, your lower esophageal sphincter (valve) does not properly close, allowing stomach acid to reflux back into your esophagus and into your system.

Your doctor can use various diagnostic tests to help assess whether you have GERD. These include an X-ray, endoscopy and manometry assessment – which assesses how smoothly food travels down your esophagus.

Ambulatory 24-Hour pH Probe: An ambilical probe fitted with a small sensor is placed through your nose into your esophagus and monitored for 24 hours, giving doctors insight into how much acid your stomach is producing – giving them insight into potential causes behind symptoms like acid reflux.

Esophogram: With an endoscope, your doctor inserts a thin and flexible tube down your throat to examine both the esophagus and stomach, with an X-ray taken afterward that may show any problems such as hiatal hernias or muscle or nerve weakness that might be contributing to symptoms in either organ.

Medication: Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers can effectively treat both erosive and nonerosive GERD by suppressing acid production, healing esophageal tissue, and decreasing symptoms.

Diet and lifestyle modifications: Lifestyle adjustments may help decrease GERD symptoms and prevent further complications, so working closely with your physician to develop an individual treatment plan.

Surgery: Your doctor can treat GERD by altering the function of your lower esophageal sphincter or creating a new valve mechanism to stop food from coming back up into your esophagus, for example by laparoscopic antireflux surgery or Nissen fundoplication or through using LINX implants.

Risk Factors: Many factors increase your chances of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These include age, being overweight or obese, smoking cigarettes and taking certain medications as well as having a family history of the disorder.

Occasional gastroesophageal reflux disease can be treated using over-the-counter (OTC) antacids or by making changes in diet and lifestyle, but long-term cases will likely need medication or even surgery from their physician to manage effectively.

Treatment

Anyone may experience heartburn or acid reflux occasionally; if this problem reoccurs regularly, however, you could be suffering from gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

GERD symptoms arise when stomach acid leaks back up into the food tube (esophagus) instead of remaining within it, damaging its lining and making swallowing difficult over time. Over time, this condition can even narrow your esophagus and reduce swallowing capability causing difficulty with eating and other serious health problems.

*Heartburn is one of the primary symptoms of GERD, typically manifesting itself with sharp or burning chest pain behind the breastbone that worsens when you bend over or lie down, often awakening you at night and occurring two to three hours after you eat.

Heartburn can often be relieved with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and lifestyle adjustments such as avoiding chocolate, peppermint, spicy or fatty foods, drinking alcohol or taking antacids. If the symptoms remain severe or aren’t alleviated by these methods alone, your doctor will likely suggest more intensive therapies.

*Medications – Medication can be one of the most effective means of decreasing acid reflux into the esophagus, including proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and histamine H2 receptor blockers (H2 blockers).

Your doctor will prescribe medications to reduce stomach acid production and help avoid acid reflux, helping to protect you against its painful symptoms. You may need to take these for an extended period of time depending on their effectiveness.

**Diet – Altering your diet can make a substantial impact in how effectively you manage GERD. Avoiding fatty foods such as red meat and fried products, and opting for smaller meals more frequently throughout the day are some key strategies for effective management of this condition.

Losing weight can help alleviate symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Achieving and maintaining a healthy bodyweight are also vital in order to avoid serious complications related to GERD such as esophageal cancer.

pH testing, which measures how much acidity there is in your esophagus, may also be useful in diagnosing and monitoring how well treatments for GERD work. This test can also help detect how you respond to treatment plans.

Prevention

GERD symptoms are quite prevalent, yet most often don’t pose serious medical concerns. But if they occur more than twice weekly, then gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) could be present.

Acid Reflux symptoms may be hard to distinguish from other health issues like heartburn or indigestion, often occurring after meals and lasting for extended periods of time.

When this occurs, stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus and may produce a burning sensation, known as heartburn, from behind your breastbone to your neck and throat. Regurgitation also may occur and cause difficulty swallowing.

Occasional reflux can be normal for infants, children, and adults; however, frequent GERD is more serious and can lead to heartburn or changes in the esophagus lining that require medical intervention.

Follow these simple tips to lower the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Foods that trigger your GERD symptoms should be avoided, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, cola, spicy food and alcohol. Some individuals must limit or stop completely their consumption of such items.

Consume multiple, smaller meals throughout the day to prevent overeating and keep stomach contents from coming up into your esophagus. This will also prevent overindulgence from leading to weight issues in future.

If acid reflux is disrupting your sleep, take acid-reducing medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and antacids containing hydrochloric acid to alleviate its symptoms. Take these drugs at least 2 hours prior to bedtime to decrease risk of GERD.

Sleeping with your head and chest raised six inches above your stomach can help ease heartburn by keeping food from your stomach from being regurgitated into your esophagus when lying down. A “wedge” pillow may also help raise both.

If you suspect GERD, seek treatment by consulting your health care provider. They can recommend the appropriate medications as well as provide any necessary guidance or recommendations. In addition, your physician can conduct tests on symptoms that could worsen it such as foods that worsen it.

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