Dr. Radhakrishna Patta, Gastroenterology
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder of the digestive system characterized by reflux of stomach acid or gastric contents through food pipes. This action causes irritation to the inner wall of the esophagus, leading to GERD. Symptoms of this disorder are common and should not be a problem unless they occur chronically more than once a week.
A burning sensation in the chest (heartburn) spreads in the throat, leaving a sour taste in the mouth. Other symptoms are dry cough, sore throat, swallowing problems, and chest pain. If your chest pain gets worse, talk to your healthcare professional right away.
- This condition is caused by acid reflux. A condition in which stomach acid returns to the esophagus. When you swallow food, the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus) relaxes and the food is transmitted to the stomach. When food passes, the lower esophageal sphincter closes.
- In the case of gastroesophageal reflux disease, this valve (lower esophageal sphincter) does not function properly. That is, instead of food going down, it can start going up. This action tends to irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing problems such as bleeding and heartburn.
- Certain factors such as smoking, overweight, diabetes, pregnancy and asthma tend to increase the risk of GERD.
Treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease are as follows:
- OTC drugs: Over-the-counter medications such as antacids, H-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors can help temporarily relieve the symptoms of GERD.
- Surgery: If the drug does not produce the desired effect, surgery is selected. Surgical procedures are used to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent acid reflux.
In addition to these treatments, there are certain lifestyle therapies that can help reduce the risk of GERD. This includes maintaining an optimal weight level, not lying down immediately after eating, and keeping your head raised during sleep.