Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)

Overview

GERD occurs when stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus, past the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) and irritates the mucous membrane and inner lining. If you suffer from GERD, you might experience it as heartburn or acid indigestion. Acid reflux is common, but when it turns chronic (at least twice a week, of moderate-intensity), it could be GERD and the patient must seek help.

Signs and symptoms

Common symptoms of GERD are – heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, laryngitis and disturbed sleep.

Causes and risk factors

GERD is a chronic acid reflux condition caused by the inefficiency of the LES. The sphincter doesn’t close completely, allowing acid backflow the consequent symptoms. Patients with Hiatal hernias, weight issues and connective tissue disorders like scleronoma are particularly at risk for GERD. Smoking, eating large meals at odd times, coffee, alcohol and certain medications like aspirin could increase your risk of acid reflux and hence GERD.

Complications

Chronic GERD can cause ulcers in the esophagus, obstructions or narrowing of the esophagus, and Barrett’s esophagus (pre-cancerous changes).

Diagnosis

GERD is diagnosed based on the patient’s medical history, a physical exam, an upper digestive tract endoscopy, a pH test of the lower esophagus, an X-ray and an esophageal manometry test to measure muscular contraction.

Treatment and Surgical Interventions

If mild, doctors may first recommend that you try lifestyle changes and prescribe over-the-counter antacids, H2 receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors. For chronic cases that do not experience relief in a few weeks, stronger versions of the over-the-counter medication may be prescribed. However, if the medication does not make GERD manageable, the patient will require surgery to correct the LES. Depending on the case, the doctor may recommend a Fundoplication, a LINX device, or a Transoral Incision less Fundoplication.

Prevention

GERD can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding foods that trigger reflux, quitting smoking and sleeping with the head elevated (for night-time reflux).

We are with you in your journey to better health

A consultation with our panel of doctors, specialists and surgeons will help you determine what kind of services you may need to help diagnose and treat your condition. If you or someone in your family or friend’s circle are facing any health issues, please get in touch with us, we are here for you.

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