Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition caused by the backflow of stomach acids into the esophagus. The strong stomach acid causes irritation to the lining of the esophagus, the food pipe leading from the mouth to the stomach, and the patient experiences the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. Although a common occurrence, when people notice stomach acid reflux more than twice a week it may interfere with everyday life and cause damage to the esophagus, requiring medical attention.

Commonly felt symptoms include a sour taste in the mouth accompanied by a burning sensation in the chest. Some people notice a regurgitation of food or sour liquid as the strong stomach acids back up into the food pipe. Any pain accompanied by shortness of breath or pains spreading to the arm or jaw could be signs of a heart attack and require immediate medical attention.

Patients in Ft. Myers, Florida, and elsewhere have found lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods and remaining upright after meals along with over-the-counter medications can remedy most minor cases of heartburn. When heartburn and acid reflux become frequent and severe and doesn’t respond to these strategies, a doctor may diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and look at medical treatments.

In cases of GERD, the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus is weakened or improperly working and allows acid and food to flow back up the esophagus. This sphincter normally opens to allow food to pass into the stomach, and then closes to keep the stomach contents confined to the stomach. Factors that aggravate the condition include obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, smoking and some other medical conditions.

A variety of medications that neutralize or reduce the production of stomach acids are available both by prescription and over-the-counter. In severe cases, surgery may be required. Alternate therapies include acupuncture, relaxation techniques and herbs.