Things you need to know
- GERD is a common gastrointestinal disorder in which a person experiences frequent acid reflux.
- GERD occurs when the acid in your stomach travels backward into the food pipe.
- GERD symptoms can be treated at home with certain lifestyle and dietary changes.
What is GERD?
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. In this condition, a person experiences frequent acid reflux, that is, the flow of stomach acid backwards into the esophagus. The backward flow of stomach acid can cause irritation in the lining of the esophagus.
GERD symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- Bitter or sour taste at the back of the mouth and throat
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
GERD is caused by frequent and persistent acid reflux. Your esophagus and stomach are connected through a small, circular band of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscular valve opens and closes timely to allow food and liquids to enter the stomach.
GERD causes primarily include the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter. When the LES becomes weak and relaxes abnormally or does not close entirely, it allows the stomach acid to travel back into the food pipe.
GERD can affect anyone, however, it is more common in some individuals. Risk factors for GERD include:
- Hiatal hernia
- Delayed emptying of stomach
- Eating large meals
- Eating late in the night
GERD is usually diagnosed when a person presents with troubling symptoms. Common tests and procedures done to diagnose GERD include:
- Esophageal manometry
There are several GERD treatment protocols including medication, lifestyle changes and surgical interventions. Your doctor will recommend a combination of these protocols to help relieve symptoms and strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.
If left untreated, GERD can cause narrowing of esophagus, ulcers and precancerous changes to the esophagus.
You can prevent GERD by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, avoiding trigger foods, wearing loose clothing and elevating the head of your bed.
Foods that may trigger GERD include dairy products, spicy foods, fatty and fried foods, soda and citrus foods.