What is GERD?
Definition of GERD: A condition in which stomach contents reflux (wash up) into the esophagus. Acid reflux, also called heartburn, that occurs twice a week or more would be considered GERD. An estimated 15 million Americans suffer from heartburn every day, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Below is a brief overview of the causes, symptoms and treatments, plus links to more information.
What Causes GERD? Any condition that weakens, relaxes, or strains the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. A hiatal hernia, pregnancy, obesity, and smoking are common causes. Certain foods may make GERD symptoms worse such as alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, citrus fruit and spicy foods.
Is GERD Contagious? No.
Medical Term: GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Symptoms of GERD are also called heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion.
Signs & Symptoms: Heartburn, described as a burning sensation in your chest behind your breastbone. Asthma symptoms, a sore throat, a dry cough, the taste of stomach acid and bile in your mouth, and trouble swallowing may be signs of GERD.
Treatment & Remedies: Lifestyle changes to treat GERD include:
- Not smoking
- Avoiding trigger foods
- Eating small, frequent meals
- Losing weight
Medications to treat GERD include antacids, H2-blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and prokinetics. Sometimes surgery is recommended to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter or LES.
- Chronic, untreated heartburn increases the risk for esophageal cancer, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
- Infants and children can suffer from GERD.
- Elevating the head of your bed 6 inches may relieve GERD symptoms at night.
- Many children and some adults with GERD do not have heartburn as a symptom.
Sources and More Information:
- GERD: Details from MyHealthNewsDaily
- Related Information from the Mayo Clinic
- Related Information from the National Institutes of Health
- Related Information from the American College of Gastroenterology
This information is not meant to provide specific medical advice. It is for educational purposes only. We recommend you consult a qualified health care professional for diagnoses and treatment advice, and call 9-1-1 in emergencies.
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