Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also called "GERD," is a common condition that often occurs after meals. In some people, the reflux is related to a problem with the lower esophageal sphincter, a band of muscle fibers that usually closes off the esophagus from the stomach. If this sphincter doesn't close properly, food and liquid can move backward into the esophagus and may cause the symptoms. The risk factors for reflux include hiatal hernia, pregnancy, and scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease characterized by hardening of the skin.

Symptoms of GERD

Aca,!Ac Heartburn-involves a burning pain in the chest (under the breastbone); the pain may be increased by bending, stooping, lying down or eating; it is relieved by antacids; it may be more frequent or worse at night.
Aca,!Ac Belching
Aca,!Ac Regurgitation of food
Aca,!Ac Nausea and vomiting
Aca,!Ac Vomiting blood
Aca,!Ac Hoarseness or change in voice
Aca,!Ac Sore throat
Aca,!Ac Difficulty swallowing
Aca,!Ac Coughing or wheezing

Treatment of GERD

General measures include:
Aca,!Ac Weight reduction
Aca,!Ac Avoiding lying down after meals
Aca,!Ac Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated
Aca,!Ac Taking medication with plenty of water
Aca,!Ac Avoiding dietary fat, chocolate, caffeine, peppermint (they may cause lower esophageal pressure)
Aca,!Ac Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
Aca,!Ac Over-the-counter antacids

Measures provided by a healthcare provider:
Aca,!Ac Prescription medications
Aca,!Ac Anti-reflux operations, however the majority of people respond to nonsurgical measures with behavioral modification and medications.

Prevention

Avoid foods and activities that worsen symptoms. Maintain a healthy weight. If you, a buddy, or a family member exhibit the symptoms of GERD that do not respond to the general treatment measures listed above, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Page last updated Mon November 1st, 2010 at 08:54