A doctor showing virtual image of stomach

What is GERD?

18/02/2022

"Gastroesophageal reflux disease" (GERD) is a disorder that occurs due to the reflux of gastric acid and food into the esophagus.

This occurs due to abnormal relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter, allowing the gastric acid to flow up into the oesophagus, irritating it and causing GERD.

Symptoms of GERD

Common symptoms of GERD are:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • The feeling of food caught in your throat
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Problem swallowing and vomiting.
  • Hoarseness of voice

Causes of GERD

Common causes of GERD are:

  • Overeating, especially eating large meals or eating before bedtime
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight or pregnant can contribute to GERD because these conditions cause pressure inside your abdomen.
  • The risk of developing GERD is higher for people who are 50 years old and older. This may be to the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter as we age.

Complications of GERD

Due to the exposure of the oesophagus to acid, it may result in complications such as:

  • Oesophageal stricture
  • Oesophageal erosions and ulcers
  • Barrets oesophagus
  • Carcinoma oesophagus
  • Extra-oesophageal issues such as - hoarseness of voice, recurrent cough/pneumonia, wearing down of teeth etc

Diagnosis of GERD

GERD is essentially a clinical diagnosis. Investigations are required when it does not respond to conventional lines of management. Some of the modalities used to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out any complications are

  • Upper Gastrointestinal GI Endoscopy and Biopsy
  • Esophageal pH and Impedance-Monitoring test.

Treatment for GERD

Initial management and treatment for GERD is a combination of medications and a few lifestyle changes such as:

  • maintaining a moderate weight, if applicable
  • quitting smoking, if you smoke
  • avoiding big, heavy meals in the evening
  • waiting a few hours after eating to lie down
  • elevating your head during sleep (by raising the head of your bed 6-8 inches)

GERD Medication, which is used:

  • H2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Proton pump Inhibitors
  • Prokinetic agents
  • Barrier agents

Prevention & Diet

Many people experience occasional heartburn, but diet can play a role in triggering GERD symptoms.

  • Certain foods may irritate the esophagus or lower esophageal sphincter, causing heartburn symptoms. If you have GERD and often experience heartburn after eating certain types of food, it is important to avoid these high-risk foods for better health.
  • Fats can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus. This is why greasy foods, such as fast food and fried dishes, are common triggers of heartburn.
  • Spicy foods may also cause problems for people with GERD. The capsaicin in chilli peppers can irritate the lining of the esophagus and increase stomach acid production.
  • Chocolate, peppermint, and coffee are other common triggers of heartburn. These foods contain compounds that can relax the lower esophageal sphincter or stimulate acid production in the stomach.
  • Finally, tomato-based products are a frequent cause of heartburn. The acidity in tomatoes can irritate the esophagus and lead to discomfort after eating.

Surgical Management

Surgery is usually not required for a GERD cure. The only indications are

  • Patients want to stop using medication
  • Poor response to medical management
  • Associated with large Hiatal Hernias
  • Development of complications such as strictures, tutors etc.

Enquire Now at Gleneagles Global, Lakdikapul, Department of Gastroenterology, for any stomach related issues.

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