Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastric reflux disease, acid reflux disease or simply reflux, GERD is a disorder affecting the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach that acts as a valve that prevents food from moving backwards into your esophagus, causing a number of uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
Causes of GERD
- Food allergies
- Stress and lifestyle
- Eating too quickly
Symptoms of GERD
- Sore throat and/or a constant need to clear your throat
- Dyspepsia, or indigestion, occurring after meals.
- Chronic dry cough, more commonly seen when you’re laying down at night.
- Hoarse voice
- Regurgitation of food
- Excessive salivation
- Bad breath
- Chest pain
One of the most common symptoms of GERD is one many are very familiar with: Heartburn — that burning feeling in your lower chest when you eat something that you know you shouldn’t have. Heartburn is a condition of stomach acid backing up into the esophagus.
Here’s a feature about heartburn with our very own Dr. Jacob Karr on KATC:
When should you see a doctor about GERD?
- When you expel gas (burp) and it’s uncomfortable
- If you take an over the counter antacid at least twice a week
- When you need to sleep propped up in your bed
- If you’re unable to eat certain foods due to symptoms after eating
- If you’re unable to eat at all
- If you’re having problems with swallowing
Also known as pyrosis, cardialgia, or acid indigestion is a burning sensation in the chest, just behind the breast bone or in the upper central abdomen. The burning sensation often rises in the chest and continues to the neck, throat or jaw.
Treatment Options for GERD
Changes in Lifestyle
- Get in shape. Make sure that your BMI is where it needs to be. By having extra weight, you’re placing pressure on your stomach, which pushes some acid up to your esophagus. Talk with a doctor about appropriate and safe weight loss solution.
- Wear loose clothing. Clothes that are tight can constrict your waist, causing pressure on your stomach. Loose clothing can help with this problem.
- Stay up. When you’re done eating, don’t lay down. This can lead to GERD. Instead, eat at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.
- Eat less. When you eat less, it will help to lose weight, but also requires your stomach to produce limited amounts of acid. Less acid is better for your stomach and there is less to get up to your esophagus.
- Quit smoking. Acid reflux can be caused by smoking, as can many other problems. Take it easy on your body and give those cigarettes up.
- Staying away from certain foods that can cause or aggravate your symptoms can help to reduce your discomfort.
- Get more exercise. Exercise helps your heart pump more oxygen-rich blood, and more oxygen means better functioning organs.
We offer patients suffering with GERD a state-of-the-art endoscopic procedure known as STRETTA to help strengthen the muscles of the LES and prevent the backing up of acid into the esophagus. Learn more about how the STRETTA procedure can help with your GERD symptoms.