Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux. Acid exists in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into your esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is gastroesophageal reflux, and heartburn and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn develop a condition called Barrett's Esophagus, which is a change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer.
More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month and approximately 25 million experience daily heartburn. If you suffer from persistent pain, chronic heartburn, and have difficulty swallowing, you may have GERD—a disease that left untreated can result in serious medical complications. At least 95 percent of people who suffer from heartburn and GERD can benefit from medical management.
If you experience any of these symptoms* listed below on a regular basis, you might have GERD.
- Persistent Heartburn
- Choking episodes at night
- Chronic cough
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Chest pain
- Inflamation of the gums
- Chronic sore throat
- Sour taste
- Bad breath
- Erosion of teeth enamel
* Symptoms vary from person to person
GERD Treatment Options Currently Consist of Lifestyle Modification, Medication & Outpatient Surgery
Lifestyle Modification is effective in treating some patients with mild reflux disease:
- Eliminate coffee, alcohol, and smoking
- Avoid eating close to bedtime
- Lose weight
- Sleep with head of bed elevated
- Eliminate spicy foods, citrus, fatty foods and tomato products
- Wear loose-fitting clothes
Drug therapy decreases acid production and provides symptom relief for most patients-but often required for lifetime of the patient. Outpatient surgery, called Laporoscopic Nissen Fundoplication, corrects the anatomy causing reflux.
Early Detection and Treatment
If you suffer from Barrett's Esophagus, early detection and treatment is essential, as this condition may lead to esophagus cancer.