What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus (tube connecting your mouth and stomach). This backward flow (acid reflux) can irritate and damage the lining of your esophagus.
People experience acid reflux from time to time. However, GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that happens very often. Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD through lifestyle changes and home treatment. But some may need medications or surgery to ease symptoms.
The best gastroenterologists at the Gut care clinic share the symptoms, causes, and treatment of acid reflux disease.
Symptoms of GERD
● A burning sensation in your chest or heartburn after eating
● Chest pain
● Difficulty swallowing
● Nausea and vomiting
● Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
● The feeling of a lump inside the throat
● If you have acid reflux in the nighttime, you might also experience
● Chronic cough
● Asthma that comes on suddenly or gets worse over time
● Inflammation of the larynx
● Disturbance in sleep
Causes of GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is often caused by frequent acid reflux. A band of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) normally keeps the top of your stomach closed. It relaxes and opens when you are swallowing to allow food and liquid into your stomach.
When the LES relaxes and opens up when you are not swallowing, the stomach acid flow backs up the esophagus, causing acid reflux. However, several factors can increase your risk of acid reflux including:
● Being overweight, obese, or pregnant
● Eating heavy meals and lying on back
● Eating large meals and lying down immediately
● Snacking close to bedtime.
● Eating certain foods, such as spicy foods or fatty foods.
● Having a hiatal hernia, the opening of the diaphragm allows the upper part of the abdomen to move up into the chest.
Over time, chronic inflammation in the esophagus can turn others into conditions that include:
● Esophageal stricture: Damage to the lower esophagus from stomach acid causes scar tissue that narrows the food pathway, leading to problems with swallowing.
● Esophageal ulcer: Stomach acid can wear away tissue in the esophagus that causes a sore that bleeds, causes pain, and makes swallowing difficult.
● Barrett’s esophagus: Damage from stomach acid causes changes in the tissue lining the lower esophagus with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Anyone who is experiencing frequent acid reflux should talk to the best gastroenterologist for further investigation. Several tests to diagnose GERD, include:
● Esophageal 24-hour pH/impedance reflux monitoring: This measures the amount of reflux in your esophagus during a 24-hour period, and evaluates whether your symptoms are correlated with the acid reflux.
● Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscope: A procedure to diagnose and treat problems in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The upper GI tract includes your food pipe (esophagus), stomach, and duodenum (the first part of your small intestine)
● Esophageal manometry: Test to measure the function of the lower esophageal sphincter and the muscles of the esophagus.
● Bravo esophageal pH monitoring: It is a minimally invasive test that evaluates whether acid from the stomach is refluxing into the esophagus and causing various symptoms.
How is GERD treated?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is often treated with medications before attempting other treatment options. Proton pump inhibitors that decrease the amount of acid produced by the stomach are one of the main treatment options for GERD. Other options include:
● H2 blockers: These are the medications that work by reducing the amount of stomach acid secreted by glands in the lining of your stomach.
● Antacids: These are over-the-counter (OTC) medications that help reduce stomach acid and work better than H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
● Prokinetics: Improves the motility of the esophagus and stomach, and increases the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to help reduce acid reflux.
● Baclofen: This is a drug used to reduce the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter which allows acid backflow.
If lifestyle changes or medications do not improve the symptoms of GERD. a gastroenterologist may recommend surgical options that include:
● Fundoplication: The surgeon wraps the top of the abdomen around the esophagus. This adds pressure to the lower end of the esophagus and is successful at reducing food passing through the esophagus.
● Linx device implantation: A minimally invasive procedure that involves a ring of tiny magnetic beads that are wrapped around the area where the stomach and esophagus meet. This magnetic attraction prevents reflux but is weak enough to allow food to pass.
● Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF) In this procedure, polypropylene fasteners tighten the lower esophagus. TIF is performed using an endoscope inserted through the mouth and does not require a surgical incision.
At the Gut care clinic, we have the best gastroenterologists in Bangalore to provide better GERD treatment by assessing your symptoms and causes. Contact us today!