Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). The stomach produces hydrochloric acid after a meal to aid in the digestion of food. GERD affects people of all ages, sometimes for unknown reasons. Often, it is due to a lifestyle factor, but it can also be due to causes that cannot always be prevented. The chief symptom of GERD is heartburn , a burning sensation located beneath the breastbone, often radiating up toward the throat. Not everyone with GERD has heartburn. Regurgitation is a more severe form in which stomach acid reaches the back of the throat, producing a sour, acidic taste. These symptoms may sometimes be accompanied by nausea. Heartburn and regurgitation are usually much worse right after a meal and are made more severe while lying flat or bending over.

The esophagus lies just behind the heart, so the term “heartburn” was coined to describe the sensation of acid burning the esophagus near where the heart is located. A ring of muscle, the gastroesophageal sphincter , normally acts as a valve that lets food into the stomach but not back up into the esophagus. When this valve fails, and stomach contents are regurgitated into the esophagus, the symptoms of acid reflux are felt, such as heartburn. Diet. Although diet is definitely a contributor to getting your gut healthy again, diet alone can not cure acid reflux disease. What the right diet can do though is reduce esophageal inflammation, strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter and decrease acid reflux symptoms.

Heartburn , regurgitation, and dyspepsia are a few of the most common acid reflux symptoms. The most common surgery for extreme heartburn is fundoplication. The surgeon wraps the top of your stomach around the bottom of your esophagus to strengthen it and help keep the acid where it belongs. This often can be done laparoscopically – it involves only a small cut and typically lets you go home in 3 days or less. Endoscopy is an important procedure for individuals with chronic GERD. By placing a small lighted tube with a tiny video camera on the end (endoscope) into the esophagus, the doctor may see inflammation or irritation of the tissue lining the esophagus (esophagitis). If the findings of the endoscopy are abnormal or questionable, biopsy (removing a small sample of tissue) from the lining of the esophagus may be helpful.

Kahrilas PJ. Medical management of gastroesophageal reflux in adults. Accessed Jan. 17, 2017. The pain of heartburn may move up toward the neck and throat. Stomach fluid can reach the back of the throat in some cases, producing a bitter or sour taste. Your doctor usually can diagnose reflux disease official statement by the symptoms you report. In most cases of GERD, the LES transiently relaxes when it’s not supposed to, thus allowing a brief interval of time in which the stomach contents can enter the esophagus. It is not clear why so many people develop frequent, transient relaxations of the LES.

Some are combined with a foaming agent. Foam in the stomach helps prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus. Acid reflux creates a burning pain in the lower chest area, often after eating. Doctors recommend lifestyle and dietary changes for most people needing treatment for GERD. Treatment aims at decreasing the amount of reflux or reducing damage to the lining of the esophagus from refluxed materials. In Western populations, GERD affects approximately 10% to 20% of the population and 0.4% newly develop the condition. 8 For instance, an estimated 3.4 million to 6.8 million Canadians are GERD sufferers. The prevalence rate of GERD in developed nations is also tightly linked with age, with adults aged 60 to 70 being the most commonly affected. 57 In the United States 20% of people have symptoms in a given week and 7% every day. 8 No data support sex predominance with regard to GERD.

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