Heartburn, Regurgitation, Dyspepsia, And More

After finishing a big meal, you feel it – that scorched feeling in your chest. Surgery is very effective at relieving symptoms and treating the complications of GERD. Approximately 80% of patients will have good or excellent relief of their symptoms for at least 5 to 10 years. Nevertheless, many patients who have had surgery will continue to take drugs for reflux. It is not clear whether they take the drugs because they continue to have reflux and symptoms browse around this site of reflux or if they take them for symptoms that are being caused by problems other than GERD. The most common complication of fundoplication is swallowed food that sticks at the artificial sphincter. Fortunately, the sticking usually is temporary. If it is not transient, endoscopic treatment to stretch (dilate) the artificial sphincter usually will relieve the problem. Only occasionally is it necessary to re-operate to revise the prior surgery.

Before the introduction of endoscopy, an X-ray of the esophagus (called an esophagram) was the only means of diagnosing GERD. Patients swallowed barium (contrast material), and X-rays of the barium-filled esophagus were then taken. The problem with the esophagram was that it was an insensitive test for diagnosing GERD. That is, it failed to find signs of GERD in many patients who had GERD because the patients had little or no damage to the lining of the esophagus. The X-rays were able to show only the infrequent complications of GERD, for example, ulcers and strictures. X-rays have been abandoned as a means of diagnosing GERD, although they still can be useful along with endoscopy in the evaluation of complications.

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.

Information from the emptying study can be useful for managing patients with GERD. For example, if a patient with GERD continues to have symptoms despite treatment with the usual medications, doctors might prescribe other medications that speed-up emptying of the stomach. Alternatively, in conjunction with GERD surgery , they might do a surgical procedure that promotes a more rapid emptying of the stomach. Nevertheless, it is still debated whether a finding of reduced gastric emptying should prompt changes in the surgical treatment of GERD.

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