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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Discover everything you need to know about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in this comprehensive article. Learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this common condition. Find out how lifestyle changes and medications can help bring GERD under control. If symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention as a last resort. Don't let GERD disrupt your life - consult with your doctor for the best treatment plan.

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Medriva Correspondents
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Everything You Need to Know About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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Subheadings:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, colloquially known as GERD, is a fairly common condition in which stomach acids escape up into the esophagus, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. The condition can range from very mild, causing few or no symptoms, to much more serious, in extreme cases requiring surgical intervention to fix the underlying anatomical defect.

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What is GERD?

GERD is characterized by the regurgitation of stomach acid across the lower esophageal sphincter. Normally, there is a barrier that prevents the backflow of stomach acid, but this barrier can become weakened or damaged in certain cases. This acid reflux can cause a variety of symptoms such as burning, pain, heartburn, vomiting, dysphagia (difficult or painful swallowing) and chronic cough.

Causes of GERD

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Several factors may contribute to the development of GERD. Some of the most common include:

  • Stress or anxiety: Stress and anxiety can cause an increase in stomach acid production, resulting in GERD.
  • Being overweight/obese: Excess weight places additional pressure on the stomach, causing stomach acid to escape upwards.
  • Smoking: Smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, making it more likely for acid to reflux.
  • Certain foods and beverages: Certain foods such as citrus, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and caffeinated beverages are thought to promote the development of GERD.

Signs and Symptoms

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Signs and symptoms of GERD vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Heartburn: Heartburn may be the most common symptom of GERD. It is characterized by a burning feeling behind the breastbone that may also extend up the throat.
  • Dysphagia: People with GERD may experience difficulty swallowing or food getting stuck in their throat.
  • Nausea and vomiting: A person with GERD may experience unplanned, forceful vomiting.
  • Chronic cough: GERD can cause an increase in stomach acid to escape up, triggering a cough reflex.
  • Asthma: People with GERD may develop asthma-like symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing.

Treatment Options

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If you have GERD, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms and bring your GERD under control. This may include quitting smoking, avoiding certain trigger foods and beverages, limiting portion size and avoiding eating late at night.

Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter medications to reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach. These medications include antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.

If lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications don't reduce symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. This procedure involves tightening the sphincter so that stomach acid cannot escape into the esophagus. Surgery should be considered a last resort, and you should speak to your doctor to determine the best treatment options for you.

Overall, GERD is a common condition that can range from mild to serious. If you experience any of the signs and symptoms listed above, it is important to speak to your doctor to determine the best treatment options for you.

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