Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is caused by the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LES is a group of muscles that act as a valve to prevent the acidic contents of the stomach from refluxing into the esophagus.
It is estimated that around at least 2 out of 10 Americans experience GERD symptoms at some point in their life.
Approximately 80% of patients experience recurrence of GERD symptoms that do not progress and can be controlled with medications. The rest 20% develop complications (such as esophageal strictures) that need quick resolution by surgery to prevent the progression of the damage. Generally, long-term maintenance therapy is needed for most patients with GERD.
The damage caused by mild GERD can be possibly reversed or reduced by following a healthy lifestyle and taking medications.
What are the complications of GERD?
If GERD is left untreated, the protective lining of the esophagus gets corroded by the acid reflux and can give rise to complications. These below complications make the healing of GERD difficult:
- Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
- Esophageal ulcers (sores in the lining of the esophagus)
- Barrett esophagus (abnormal changes in the esophagus that can lead to cancer)
- Esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus)
- Dental problems (wearing of the teeth enamel, dental cavities)
- Increased risk of esophageal cancer
- Asthma flare-ups (GERD worsens asthma and asthma worsens GERD)
What lifestyle changes can help prevent GERD symptoms?
- Eat frequent smaller meals (instead of three large meals)
- Maintain a healthy weight (belly fat puts pressure on your stomach)
- Relax when you eat (stress triggers heartburn)
- Beat the stress (try relaxation therapies, such as deep breathing, meditation, massage, or yoga)
- Remain upright during and after eating (for at least 45-60 minutes)
- Eat at least three hours before going to bed (do not eat anything just before bed)
- Avoid tight accessories (such as tight belts, waistbands) and other clothing on your belly (these can put pressure on your stomach)
Cut down on foods that can trigger GERD. These include:
- High-fat foods (including dairy products)
- Spicy dishes
- Tomato sauce
- Citrus fruits (lemons, oranges)
- Carbonated drinks
- Alcoholic drinks
- Avoid smoking
- Raise the head of your bed by at least 6-8 inches (use wooden blocks under the bedposts)
What medications are used to treat GERD?
Treatment of GERD aims at controlling symptoms, healing esophagitis (if present), and preventing recurrent esophagitis or other complications. The standard medications include:
Antacids: These provide relief more quickly than most other medicines by neutralizing the digestive acids in the stomach and esophagus.
- Aluminum hydroxide gel (Alternagel, Amphojel)
- Calcium carbonate (Alka-Seltzer, Tums)
- Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia)
Prokinetic agents: These medicines help empty the stomach of its contents so that they do not flow back towards the esophagus. They can also improve muscle tone in the esophagus. The only one approved for use in the United States is metoclopramide (Reglan).
Latest Healthy Living News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
GERD (Chronic Acid Reflux). Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17019-gerd-or-acid-reflux-or-heartburn-overview/
Top GERD: Is the Damage Reversible? Related Articles
8 Foods and Drinks That Help with Acid RefluxWhat is acid reflux and how can you treat it at home? Learn the top foods and drinks that can ease your symptoms and help you find relief.
Beyond Food: What Triggers Heartburn and GERD?Heartburn is the burning sensation in the chest due to backflow or reflux of the acidic stomach contents into the food pipe (esophagus). Heartburn is a major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Can a Liver Hemangioma Go Away on Its Own?No, liver hemangioma doesn’t go away without treatment. People who have liver hemangioma rarely experience signs and symptoms and typically don't need treatment. They are generally small and even if they become large they may not carry significant risk.
Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)Dexilant (dexlansoprazole) is a prescription medicine called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Dexilant reduces the amount of acid in your stomach.
GERD PictureThe stomach contents regurgitate and back up (reflux) into the esophagus The food in the stomach is partially digested by stomach acid and enzymes. See a picture of Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) and learn more about the health topic.
GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn)GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which the acidified liquid contents of the stomach backs up into the esophagus. The symptoms of uncomplicated GERD are:
- regurgitation, and
GERD QuizWho is at risk for developing GERD? Are you? Take this quiz to learn what GERD is, if you're at risk, and what you can do about it.
GERD and GER (Acid Reflux) in Infants and ChildrenGERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is the upward movement of stomach content, including acid, into the esophagus and sometimes into or out of the mouth. Common symptoms of GERD in children include colic, feeding problems, poor growth, frequent vomiting or coughing, heartburn, regurgitation, recurrent wheezing, pneumonia, choking, or gagging. Treatment may involve elevating the child's bed, keeping the child upright after eating, limiting foods that seem to make the reflux worse, encouraging your child to exercise, and serving several small meals a day.
Heartburn Causes, Symptoms and RemediesHeartburn is a symptom of acid reflux that causes chest pain when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Heartburn symptoms may mimic chest pain that occurs during a heart attack. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may produce other symptoms.
Is Barrett's Esophagus Serious?Barrett’s esophagus is a serious medical condition in which the inner lining of the food pipe (esophagus) is damaged due to acid reflux. People with chronic and untreated GERD have a high risk of Barrett's esophagus.
Protonix IV (pantoprazole sodium)Protonix IV (pantoprazole sodium) is a prescription medicine called a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) used to treat the symptoms of Erosive Esophagitis associated with GERD, short-term treatment of GERD, and Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. Protonix IV may be used alone or with other medications. Side effects of Protonix IV include unusually fast, slow or irregular heartbeat, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramping, fever, blood or mucus in your stool, rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue and throat, severe dizziness, trouble breathing, and changes in the amount of urine.
Ways to Relieve Acid Reflux (GERD, Heartburn)Most people have experienced some sort of pain or discomfort following a large meal or a particular food that didn’t quite agree with their stomach. Acid reflux symptoms can happen without a specific underlying condition.
What Are the Best Foods To Eat If You Have GERD?What is GERD, and how can you manage it? Learn more about this condition and how making diet and lifestyle changes can play an important role in treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of GERD in Adults?Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is when stomach acid, food, and fluids move up from the stomach to the esophagus. Learn more about GERD, its common symptoms, how it's diagnosed, and your treatment options.
What Causes Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disorder in which acid reflux occurs at least two times a week for several weeks. Acid reflux is a condition in which the acidic stomach contents leak back in the food pipe (esophagus) and cause heartburn.