What causes GERD?
At the junction of your esophagus and stomach is a muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Its role is to ensure that food flows one way – down into the stomach. It aids in digestion by allowing acid and pepsin to process your meals. However, if the LES weakens or malfunctions, it can result in stomach acid refluxing into the esophagus, bringing that all-too-familiar burning sensation known as heartburn.
Several factors can contribute to GERD:
- Consumption of certain trigger foods and beverages
- Smoking or excessive alcohol or coffee intake
- Certain medications like narcotics, blood pressure medicines, and aspirin
- An enlarged stomach, increasing abdominal pressure
What are the symptoms of GERD?
Some of the most common symptoms of GERD are:
- Persistent heartburn with a burning sensation in the chest or throat
- A lingering sour or bitter taste in your mouth and throat
Regurgitation of stomach contents
- Waking up in the middle of the night with acid reflux
- In infants, GERD can result in feeding issues, frequent vomiting, back-arching during feeding, and poor weight gain.
Potential consequences of GERD
The consequences of GERD can be quite serious. So if you are experiencing symptoms that align with GERD, it’s critical you book a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.
The acid reflux from GERD can cause:
- Esophagitis – a painful inflammation of the esophageal lining
- Vocal cord and throat irritation leading to sore or hoarse voice
Narrowing of the esophagus, called strictures
- Tooth decay due to acid erosion
- Respiratory issues when acid irritates the lungs, potentially causing pneumonia or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
How is GERD managed or treated?
GERD can be managed in numerous ways, including prescription medications, lifestyle changes and even surgical procedures.
These lifestyle changes might make a significant difference:
Opt for smaller, more regular meals
Avoid high-fat foods
Quit smoking and moderate caffeine and alcohol consumption
Shed any extra weight
Elevate your bed’s head slightly to prevent acid reflux during sleep
For those who find no relief through these measures, surgical interventions, including fundoplication and the LINX System (a ring of magnetic titanium beads placed around the stomach’s exterior), might be suggested. However, these are typically last-resort solutions and are not recommended for children.
Ready to consult with an expert?
If you’re experiencing GERD or acid reflux, it’s essential to consult with a specialist. At Phenix Health, our doctors are always available for an online consultation, 24/7. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the link below. Remember, it’s always better to address concerns early with a healthcare professional.