Commonly referred to as acid reflux, GERD is a disorder that occurs when stomach acid comes up into the esophagus and irritates the lining. Over time, the recurrent acid burns the lining of the esophagus can result in complications such as bleeding, narrowing of the esophagus (stricture) or Barrett’s esophagus which is a pre-cancerous disorder of the esophagus. Patients may experience GERD with asthma, diabetes, smoking, obesity, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, alcohol intake and scleroderma.
60% of the adult population will experience some type of GERD within a 12 month period and 20-30% will have weekly symptoms.¹
What are the symptoms of GERD?
The most common symptoms of GERD are:
Dysphagia (a sensation of food feeling stuck in the esophagus)
Coughing or wheezing
Heartburn (a burning sensation near the bottom of the sternum)
How is GERD diagnosed?
Symptoms alone may be sufficient to diagnose GERD but at times physicians may recommend an upper endoscopy (EGD), a barium swallow (X-ray as you swallow contrast dye) or an esophageal manometry which is a test that tells how well your esophagus moves food through it.
Upper Endoscopy (EGD)
This examination is used to detect problems of the upper gastrointestinal tract. During this short procedure, a flexible optic tube is inserted through your mouth and down the esophagus to view the upper tract. Samples of tissues (biopsies) are collected as well as removal of polyps, stop bleeding ulcers, and open narrowed passages. An upper endoscopy can help diagnose and treat ulcers, tumors, difficulty swallowing, indigestion, bleeding, heartburn, GERD, and malabsorption disorders including celiac sprue.
This test is used to help determine causes of swallowing difficulties, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms. A solution is ingested and then x-rays are taken to track its path through your digestive system.
This test involves a thin, pressure-sensitive catheter that is placed through the nose and into the esophagus in order to evaluate certain swallowing difficulties.
What are the treatments for GERD?
There are many treatment for GERD and usually the most non-invasive modalities are tried first.
Life style changes
Avoiding Aspirin, Naproxen and Ibuprofen
Avoiding certain foods and beverages:
If medication is warranted than an H2-receptor blocker such as Pepcid or Zantac are used but in severe cases than Proton-pump inhibitors are usually used such as Nexium, Dexilant, Prevacid, Protonix and Aciphex.
When medications fail than surgery might be recommended where they perform a Nissen fundoplication where they take the stomach and wrap it around the esophagus making a tighter LES.
Be proactive about your health and make your appointment to be screened today!