Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). There are problems with this approach For instance, patients who have conditions that can mimic GERD, specifically duodenal or gastric (stomach) ulcers, also can actually respond to such treatment. In this situation, extra resources if the physician assumes that the problem is GERD, the cause of the ulcer disease would be missed such as a type of infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS (for example, ibuprofen ), can also cause ulcers and these conditions would be treated differently from GERD.

When GERD affects the throat or larynx and causes symptoms of cough, hoarseness , or sore throat , patients often visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT specialist frequently finds signs of inflammation of the throat or larynx. Although diseases of the throat or larynx usually are the cause of the inflammation, sometimes GERD can be the cause. Accordingly, ENT specialists often try acid-suppressing treatment to confirm the diagnosis of GERD. This approach, however, has the same problems as discussed above, that result from using the response to treatment to confirm GERD.

Esophageal motility testing has two important uses in evaluating GERD. The first is in evaluating symptoms that do not respond to treatment for GERD since the abnormal function of the esophageal muscle sometimes causes symptoms that resemble the symptoms of GERD Motility testing can identify some of these abnormalities and lead to a diagnosis of an esophageal motility disorder. The second use is evaluation prior to surgical or endoscopic treatment for GERD. In this situation, the purpose is to identify patients who also have motility disorders of the esophageal muscle. The reason for this is that in patients with motility disorders, some surgeons will modify the type of surgery they perform for GERD.

GERD may be difficult to detect in infants and children , since they cannot describe what they are feeling and indicators must be observed. Symptoms may vary from typical adult symptoms. GERD in children may cause repeated vomiting , effortless spitting up, coughing , and other respiratory problems, such as wheezing. Inconsolable crying, refusing food, crying for food and then pulling off the bottle or breast only to cry for it again, failure to gain adequate weight, bad breath, and burping are also common. Children may have one symptom or many; no single symptom is universal in all children with GERD.

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