I keep hearing about Gastroesophageal Reflux. What is it?
Reflux--often referred to as GERD is a condition in which stomach acid
enters in to the lower part of the esophagus.
Why is GERD a problem?
fluids have an extremely low pH. This means that they are extremely
acidic. This is fine when those fluids are confined to the stomach since
the stomach lining was made to be able to handle such acidic fluid.
However, when those fluids enter in to the esophagus, it can cause
What types of symptoms does GERD cause?
people have symptoms of heartburn which is a sensation of burning in
the chest and throat. Other symptoms may include a brackish or sour
taste in the back of the throat and mouth, chest or upper abdominal
pain, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, and cough (just to name a
Can GERD cause other problems?
Yes. GERD can aggravate other medical conditions such as asthma and problems with the throat and voice box (larynx).
How do you know that you have GERD?
patients can be diagnosed by their doctor on the basis of physical
exam. Of course, it is sometimes wise to have an endoscopy or upper GI
What causes GERD?
no one cause of GERD but many factors may contribute to it. These
factors include obesity, smoking, certain foods or medications, certain
diseases (such as diabetes), variations in the structure of the upper
digestive tract. These are just a few of the risk factors for GERD.
Can GERD be treated?
There are many effective treatments for GERD. These include lifestyle
modifications, medications and even endoscopic and surgical procedures.
You should talk to your doctor about which of these approaches is best
in your situation.
Does GERD have to be treated?
is not wise to avoid having your GERD evaluated and treated. Though
everyone may have symptoms such as these from time to time, if you are
having them regularly (twice a week or more), you should be evaluated.
Without appropriate medical care, GERD can damage the esophagus. This
may be manifested by bleeding, stricture of the esophagus, perforation
of the esophagus or a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.
What is Barrett’s esophagus?
is a condition in which the esophagus is so damaged that its cellular
structure has changed. If Barrett’s esophagus is left untreated, it can
lead to esophageal cancer.
What type of doctor specializes in GERD?
is always a good idea to start with your primary care physician but if
you and your primary doctor decide that you should see a specialist, you
will probably be referred to a Gastroenterologist.
Where can I get more information?
are many excellent resources for information available. Check out
articles from the NIH, the MAYO clinic and from the American
Gastroenterological Association. Their website information on GERD is
American Gastroenterological AssociationNIH