GERD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease)

GERD (Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease)

Overview

GERD is a highly prevalent chronic digestive disease in which the stomach acid or bile frequently backwashes into the food pipe connecting the stomach and the mouth – a condition known as acid reflux, resulting in the irritation of the oesophagus or the food pipe. In mild cases, this typically occurs a few times a week. If diagnosed in the initial stages, it should get better with lifestyle changes; otherwise medical intervention helps to treat the condition.

Signs and symptoms

People suffering from GERD often experience heartburn, especially after eating. As the stomach acid is pushed up the taste of food or digestive acid is felt in the mouth. There would be also a discomfort felt in the area behind the chest bone; other symptoms include heaviness, a lumpy feeling in the throat, nausea, difficulty while swallowing, hoarseness in the throat and pain in the chest.

Causes and risk factors

Most often untimely meals, heavy late-night meals, obesity, irregular bowel movement, smoking and passive smoking lead to Acid reflux or heartburn. Depression, bloating of the upper stomach known as hiatal hernia, lack of physical exercise, slow body metabolism and increased stress are some of the risk factors of GERD.

Complications

If neglected, GERD could lead to a host of other issues like Oesophagitis, Barret’s Oesophagus, Asthma, Chronic cough, Laryngitis and several other complications. It could also lead to Ineffective Oesophageal Motility in many cases.

Diagnosis

Patients experiencing symptoms of GERD should consult Gastroenterologists for an accurate diagnosis. At Gleneagles Global Health City both inpatient and outpatient diagnosis is provided. Multiple procedures are adopted for diagnosis including Upper GI Endoscopy, Upper GI series, Oesophageal manometry, Upper digestive system X-ray and Ambulatory acid pH tests.

Surgery

Surgical intervention is needed if the symptoms of GERD do not subside with suggested lifestyle changes or medications. The suggested surgical treatment is Fundoplication or Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery, where pressure is created on the lower end of the Oesophagus by stitching the oesophagus with the upper end of the stomach, to stop reflux. Endoscopic procedures are also adopted in some cases.

Prevention

Since there are numerous causes for GERD, common preventive measures that could be considered are to avoid eating heavy meals, eating slowly and concentrating on chewing the food. Limiting or avoiding alcohol intake, smoking, lying down after eating, etc. are aspects that must be considered. Self-medication should be completely avoided and any symptoms of GERD should be discussed with specialist doctors immediately.

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