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Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease

Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is often signified by heartburn. In this disease, the contents of the stomach start backing up into the food pipe (esophagus). While the condition is not fatal, GRED may cause severe medical complications, if continually left untreated frequently. The repeated gushing up of stomach acid into the food pipe may tarnish the inner lining of the cells. As a serious consequence, cancer of the esophagus may also occur if the condition is not treated timely and properly.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

The most common symptoms of GERD are, as follows.

  • Heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest and may also creep up to the throat.
  • Acidic taste in the back of the throat.
  • Pain in the upper abdomen.
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough, dryness and other symptoms of asthma.
  • Sore throat
  • Swallowing may be difficult.
  • Anti-peristaltic movement of the stomach content, such as, foods, fluids or acids up the esophagus.
  • Dental deterioration.

Your Physician Consultation

When mild, your physician may rank your condition as acid reflux. In this case, acid reflux may be treated easily with dietary changes and medication. When symptoms become serious, such as in the presence of severe dysphagia, severe weight loss, chest pain, choking or other serious symptoms associated with GERD, your physician will perform a more intensive evaluation. If you have chest pain, your physician will conduct tests to rule out a heart disease. Once heart disease is ruled out, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests.

Endoscopy to ascertain the extent of esophageal damage by passing a flexible tube into the food pipe, stomach and the intestine. Via an endoscope the inside of the esophagus and other regions is illuminated and magnified.

Biopsy may be performed by taking a sample of the damaged tissue for detailed observation.

24 hour Esophageal pH Tests may be performed to keep an eye on the nature and consistency of the fluid inside the esophagus.  A thin tube is inserted via the nose into the food pipe for a time period of 24 hours. This time frame allows for monitoring and documenting the number of times the regurgitation of the stomach acid occurs into the esophagus.

Esophageal Manometry may be performed to measure the muscle contractions of the esophagus.  This offers quantifiable data to detect how the esophageal sphincter is working.

Conditions that May be Associated with GERD

A number of other complications accompany GERD, including:

  • Esophageal ulcers may form due to the continuous presence of burning acid.
  • Acid damages may tarnish the surface of the food pipe, narrowing it or blocking it altogether and thus stopping food passage down to the stomach.
  • Acid regurgitation up the throat can cause the inflammation of the vocal cords and a sore throat.
  • Sometimes the stomach acid may also find its way into the lungs causing a condition called aspiration pneumonia while chronic acid visits into the lungs may also result in pulmonary fibrosis that is permanent lung disease.
  • Barrett’s esophagus may also occur in cases of severe damage which consequently turns into esophageal cancer.

GERD Treatment

Unfortunately, GERD is a chronic disease. There is no cure, but the condition may be managed by  ways of adopting a healthy lifestyle with dietary changes, mindful techniques and select medications may offer relief, such as,  those for acid reflux, including:  Antacids ( Maalox and Tums), Histamine medications and more choices.   

GERD has a good prognosis when treated with antacids and medications for an extended period of time.  Surgery may be an option for some, but 80-90% of the people taking antacids recover to a great extent.

Next Visit, Q and A for Your Doctor

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition.