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GERD is the digestive disorder in which the stomach content flows back into the food pipe or esophagus. This condition occurs when lower esophageal sphincter, a ring between esophagus and stomach is affected. As the stomach contains acid, backflow of its contents may irritate the food pipe, thereby producing intractable symptoms. It affects people of all ages, from infants to older adults, and pregnant women usually suffer from heartburn and indigestion caused by GERD. GERD can be easily managed through diet and life-style changes but few people require strong medications or even surgery to reduce the symptoms.
Heartburn, also called as indigestion is the most common symptom of GERD which usually feels like burning in the chest that radiates to the neck and throat. This symptom usually lasts for 2 hrs and may get worse after eating. Other symptoms include:
If the chest pain increases with physical activity such as bending, then it is due to an underlying cardiovascular complication. Else, it is less likely that GERD produces chest pain upon physical activity. Meet the doctor if there are symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, and arm pain because they may be the symptoms of heart attack.
GERD mainly occurs when lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes, causing stomach contents to come back into the esophagus. This may be due to various factors like increased pressure on the abdomen,
If heartburn is observed only after taking certain foods, it is better to avoid them or eliminate them from the diet.
GERD is a common condition observed in all the age groups, however, it is rarely seen in children. The risk factors of GERD include:
GERD should be treated whenever noticed. If the condition persists for longer time, it may lead to complications like narrowing of the esophagus, esophageal ulcers, and Barrett’s esophagus.
Diagnosis of GERD is based on the symptoms such as heartburn. Various other tests are recommended for confirming the diagnosis.
Lifestyle and dietary management can help reduce the amount of reflux and damage to the lining of the esophagus. If the patient does not feel relief within few weeks, the physician may recommend other treatment options like medications and surgery.
Lifestyle and dietary changes
Taking OTC medications offers significant relief. Doctors usually prescribe the following medications for acid reflux treatment:
Surgery is proscribed only when the medications do not work. Surgery also prevents long-term medication use. Surgery is usually performed to tighten and strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent the reflux of stomach content into the esophagus.
Making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent the heartburn and GERD.
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