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Your esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it.

You may feel a burning in the chest or throat called heartburn. Sometimes, you can taste stomach fluid in the back of the mouth. If you have these symptoms more than twice a week, you may have GERD. You can also have GERD without having heartburn. Your symptoms could include a dry cough, asthma symptoms, or trouble swallowing.

Anyone, including infants and children, can have GERD. If not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems. In some cases, you might need medicines or surgery. However, many people can improve their symptoms by

  • Avoiding alcohol and spicy, fatty or acidic foods that trigger heartburn
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Not eating close to bedtime
  • Losing weight if needed
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothes

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of GERD

The following features are indicative of GERD:
  • burning sensation in the chest
  • chest pain
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • dry cough
  • hoarseness
  • regurgitation of food
  • sensation of a lump in the throat
It is possible that GERD shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of GERD

The following are the most common causes of GERD:
  • frequent acid reflux

Risk Factors for GERD

The following factors may increase the likelihood of GERD:
  • obesity
  • bulging of top of stomach up into the diaphragm
  • pregnancy
  • smoking
  • dry mouth
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • delayed stomach emptying
  • scleroderma

Prevention of GERD

Yes, it may be possible to prevent GERD. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • avoid tight-fitting clothing
  • eat in smaller meals
  • don't lie down after a meal
  • don't smoke

Occurrence of GERD

Number of Cases

The following are the number of GERD cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

GERD most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 50 years

Common Gender

GERD can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of GERD

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect GERD:
  • Ambulatory acid probe tests: To measure acid for 24 hours
  • X-ray of upper digestive system: To see a silhouette of esophagus, stomach and upper intestine
  • Endoscopy: To visually examine the inside of the esophagus and stomach
  • Manometry: To measure the movement and pressure in the esophagus

Doctor for Diagnosis of GERD

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of GERD:
  • Gastroenterologist

Complications of GERD if untreated

Yes, GERD causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if GERD is left untreated:
  • narrowing of the esophagus
  • esophageal ulcer
  • Barrett's esophagus

Procedures for Treatment of GERD

The following procedures are used to treat GERD:
  • Nissen fundoplication: To prevent reflux by wrapping the very top of the stomach around the outside of the lower esophagus
  • Linx: To strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter

Self-care for GERD

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of GERD:
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Lowers the frequency of heartburn
  • Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn: Helps in preventing heartburn
  • Avoid smoking: Enhances the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of GERD

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of GERD:
  • Herbal remedies: Licorice and chamomile are used to control serious side effects
  • Relaxation therapies: Lowers the signs and symptoms of GERD

Time for Treatment of GERD

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for GERD to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for GERD.

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