What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid flows abnormally back into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Stomach acid can damage the delicate lining and muscles of this tube. It can cause inflammation, narrowing, permanent changes to the cells and, in some cases, cancer of the esophagus.
If you have GERD, you may experience severe or frequent heartburn, regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus or other symptoms of acid reflux, at least twice a week. Other symptoms can include:
- Feeling of fluid or food rising in the esophagus
- A sour taste in the mouth
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
- Chest pain not related to cardiac causes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Chronic cough
- Worsening of asthma
Left untreated, GERD can lead to serious health problems such as Barrett’s esophagus . If you are not feeling relief with antacids, prescription medications or lifestyle changes, make an appointment with a Guthrie specialist today.
How is GERD diagnosed?
If you are experiencing severe or frequent heartburn – twice a week or more – or if you have been taking antacids for two weeks with little relief, the first step is a visit with your primary care provider. He or she may diagnose GERD based on your symptoms, and may recommend lifestyle changes, medication, further testing, or a visit with a specialist.
For symptoms that persist despite daily use of prescription medication, or if further testing is needed, your primary care provider may refer you to see a specialist. Testing might include x-rays, acid probe evaluation, esophageal motility testing, or endoscopy.
How is GERD treated?
Lifestyle changes may ease GERD symptoms, such as
- losing weight
- eating smaller meals
- not eating for at least four hours before lying down
- quitting smoking
Prescription medications such as H-2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors often are effective. Surgery or endoscopic treatment may be an option for certain GERD patients.
The best way to determine your treatment options is to make an appointment with us.