GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disease that occurs when the gastric acid from the stomach leak back into the esophagus. It often irritates the esophagus and causes GERD symptoms.

Symptoms

Most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn (discomfort in the chest that usually occurs after taking food or liquid content). Other symptoms of GERD are:

  • Nausea
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Hiccups
  • Sore Throat
  • Change in voice
  • Coughing
  • Regurgitation
  • Dysphagia

If you experience all the aforementioned symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor immediately. If GERD is untreated for a long period, it may affect remaining organs in the stomach.

Causes

Mainly, GERD is caused by Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) allows food and liquid content to pass into the stomach from the throat and closes the tube to prevent stomach juice from moving back into the esophagus during normal digestion. GERD results when LES doesn't close well and allows gastric juice get back into the esophagus.

Risk factors of GERD are:-

  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Scleroderma
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Asthma

Hiatal Hernia is a disease that occurs when upper part of stomach comes into the chest through an opening. Hernia is classified into two types, they are: - sliding and paraesophageal.

Tests and Procedures:

Gastroenterologist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats digestive diseases. Doctor may recommend patient to undergo several tests to diagnose GERD. This includes,

  • Endoscopy
  • X-ray
  • Ambulatory acid (pH) test
  • Esophageal Manometry

X-ray Test

X-ray test is very helpful to find out the problems which are causing GERD symptoms. During the x-ray procedure, patient has to take barium and need to stand in front of x-ray equipment. The radiologist can clearly identify the organ shapes in x-ray images with the help of barium liquid.

Doctor provides few specific instructions for a patient about food habits after the test. Patient may experience few symptoms such as nausea and bloating after taking the test.

Endoscopy

In Endoscopy procedure, doctor uses a thin tube with a light and video camera at the end to examine the esophagus. It is useful to identify a Barrett's esophagus, which can lead to a cancer in esophagus.

Your health care provider does not suggest you an endoscopy test, unless your symptoms are more severe.

Ambulatory acid (pH) test

In Ambulatory acid (pH) test, doctor measures the amount of liquid in the esophagus which is useful to identify the patient conditions, who are in need of surgery as a treatment for GERD. Gastroenterologist inserts a thin and flexible tube called a nasogastric probe, into the patient's nose or mouth to reach the esophagus. The tube contains a small probe which measures the amount of liquid in the esophagus. The other end of the tube is connected to machine to measure the level of acid in the esophagus.

Esophageal Manometry

Manometry records the movement and pressure of muscles contractions in the esophagus. Anesthetic spray is given to a person on back of the throat or inside the nostrils during manometry procedure. Doctor inserts catheter into the nose to record the movement and pressure of muscles in esophagus organs.

Treatment

Treatment for GERD is different from person to person. Your healthcare provider suggests you the right kind of treatment based on your symptoms. Doctor provides you few medications to reduce acid production in esophagus and heartburn problems. Later on, when medications are not helpful and symptoms are more severe, then doctor suggests you to undergo surgery and other procedures to treat GERD.

Gastroenterologist examines your health condition and gives you some of the drugs such as Maalox, Rolaids, Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac, Prilosec, Protonix, Kapidex, Dexilant and Zegerid based on your symptoms.

Treatment Cost

Cost of treating GERD is around $510 per year. However, treatment cost varies from person to person based on the person's health condition and severity of symptoms.

Prevention

Proper health diet plays a vital role in GERD prevention. People who suffer with obesity problem have to reduce high fat content and spicy food. You need to avoid both smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol to prevent GERD.

Lifestyle Tips

Here we offer you few tips which will be more helpful to get relief over GERD symptoms without medications.

  • Take small quantity of meals in a day.
  • Go for a walk after having your meal.
  • Exercise Regularly.
  • Try to avoid tobacco products.