GERD, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a medical condition in which the contents of the stomach leak backwards into the esophagus and mouth. GERD is a chronic digestive disease, normally caused by changes to the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach. GERD involves stomach acid and sometimes bile flowing back into the esophagus. This acid irritates the esophagus’ lining and causes unpleasant symptoms.
GERD Symptoms and Signs
GERD has a number of side effects and symptoms. Some of them may include:
- Acid reflux
- Trouble swallowing
- Pain when swallowing
- Chest pain
- Chronic, dry cough
- Hoarseness and sore throat
- Feeling a lump in the throat
GERD has a number of risks involved, some of them including the development of ulcers, cancer, a narrowing of the esophagus and the wearing down of the esophageal walls.
GERD Testing and Diagnosis
During a physical examination, your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms and perform certain tests, which may include:
- Upper GI series
- 24-hour pH monitoring
There are a number of preventative methods to avoid the development and effects of GERD. Some of them include:
- Sleep - The way in which a person sleeps can cause symptoms of GERD to decrease. It is recommended to sleep with you head raised at a 30 degree angle or sleeping in the sitting position. Doctors also recommend that sleeping on your left side will help gravity keep your stomach below your esophagus and prevent flare ups
- Portion Size - Eating a large meal can have a big impact on stomach acid production. Development of GERD can be lowered by eating smaller meals and not eating right close to going to sleep
- Chewing sugarless gum after a meal - This increases saliva flow and can neutralize stomach acids in the esophagus
- Losing Weight - Even losing a few pounds will help with the prevention of heartburn
- Clothing Choice - Wearing loose-fitting clothing has been shown to reduce symptoms of GERD
- Diet - Avoid eating rich foods that are acidic
- Manage stress - This can help you avoid flare ups
Changing your dietary habits can help what triggers the symptoms of GERD. Those include:
- Maintain a food dairy to keep a record of what you eat and any reaction you may have. Make gradual changes to your dietary habits and write down if your symptoms improve.
- Eat reasonable portions
- Wait at least two hours between meals and lying down
- Lose and maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Do not wear restrictive clothing that puts pressure on the abdomen, such as belts
- Elevate the head of the bed
Avoid foods which can aggravate GERD symptoms:
- High-fat or fried foods
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits
- Onions or garlic
- Carbonated drinks
Risk Factors For GERD
- Hiatal hernia diagnosis
- Jogging, running or strenuous physical activity after eating
- Certain medications
- Prior surgery for heartburn, gastric reflux, or vagotomy surgery
- Asthma diagnosis
- Peptic ulcer treatment
- Certain conditions such as cancer, scoliosis, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and nervous system diseases
- Food allergies
- Defects in the respiratory or gastrointestinal system
GERD Treatment Options
- Medication - There are a number of medications available to help reduce or stop acid reflux, ranging from antacids to proton pump inhibitors. Most of the medication for GERD needs a prescription so it is incredibly important to talk with your doctor to find out which is the best choice for you. Medications may include:
- Proton-pump inhibitors
- Over-the-counter antacids
- Over-the-counter H2-blocker drugs
- Medicines to coat/protect the stomach lining
- Medicines to improve muscle tone in the lower esophagus
Sometimes the only way to stop GERD is to have surgery, which often can be performed laparoscopically. The most common type of surgery is called the Nissen fundoplication. During this procedure, the upper portion of the stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the esophagus. This creates pressure at the stomach opening.
GERD can be treated with proper diagnosis. West Medical is dedicated to making sure you receive the proper treatment for GERD symptoms. To learn more about symptoms, causes, and treatment options, as well as cost in Los Angeles, please contact West Medical at (855) 690-0565, and our helpful medical staff will answer any questions you may have.
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