What is GERD? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

What is GERD? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

  • GERD causes symptoms like heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing, with factors like LES dysfunction, hiatal hernia, obesity, and certain foods contributing.
  • Managing GERD involves dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, medications, and sometimes surgical options to control acid reflux.
  • ENT of Georgia South provides personalized care and effective treatments to help manage GERD symptoms and improve quality of life.
What is GERD? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. GERD happens when stomach acid reverses direction and flows back into the esophagus. This acid backwash can irritate the esophagus lining, leading to multiple symptoms and potential complications.

Understanding GERD: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Symptoms of GERD in Adults

The symptoms of GERD in adults can vary in intensity and frequency. The primary symptom is heartburn, characterized by a burning sensation in the chest. This discomfort often occurs after meals and may intensify at night. Other symptoms include:

  • Chest Pain: Many people wonder, can GERD cause chest pain? Yes, it can. GERD-related chest pain can be so intense that it's sometimes mistaken for a heart attack.
  • Regurgitation: This occurs when acid backs up into your throat or mouth, creating a sour or bitter taste.
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Chronic cough or sore throat
  • Laryngitis or hoarseness
  • A feeling of a lump in the throat

Identifying these symptoms early is vital for prompt diagnosis and effective management.

What Causes GERD?

GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux — the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus. Several factors can contribute to this condition:

  • Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) Dysfunction: The LES is a ring of muscle at the entrance to your stomach. In most cases, it closes as soon as food passes through it. If it doesn't close properly, stomach acid can move up into your esophagus, causing GERD symptoms.
  • Hiatal Hernia: The diaphragm can cause a part of the stomach to move upwards, resulting in this condition. Normally, the diaphragm helps contain stomach acid. When a hiatal hernia is present, the diaphragm's ability to keep stomach acid contained is weakened. This allows acid to enter the esophagus, which can lead to GERD.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can increase abdominal pressure, pushing stomach acids up into the esophagus.
  • Pregnancy: Hormones during pregnancy can cause the LES to relax, leading to increased acid reflux.
  • Certain Foods and Drinks: Foods such as fatty or fried items, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can trigger reflux in some individuals.

How to Stop GERD

Managing GERD often involves lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments. Here are some strategies on how to stop GERD:

  1. Dietary Changes: A GERD diet plan can make a significant difference. Remove foods and drinks from your diet that cause your symptoms. Smaller, more frequent meals are better than having large meals throughout the day. Avoid eating close to bedtime.
  2. Lifestyle Modifications:
    • Weight Management: In some cases, losing weight can help reduce the pressure on your stomach.
    • Elevate the Head of Your Bed: Raise it to 6 to 8 inches, which prevents acid from flowing back into your esophagus while you sleep.
    • Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol: Both can weaken the LES and increase acid reflux.
  3. Medications:
    • Antacids: These can provide quick relief by neutralizing stomach acid.
    • H2 Receptor Blockers: These reduce acid production and provide longer relief than antacids.
    • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): These are stronger acid blockers and can help heal the esophagus.
  4. Surgical Options: Procedures like fundoplication can enhance the barrier between the stomach and esophagus, preventing reflux in severe cases.

ENT of Georgia South: Your Partner in Managing GERD

At ENT of Georgia South, we understand the discomfort and complications that GERD can bring. With our dedication to providing personalized care and our effective treatment plans, we can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you're struggling with GERD symptoms, don't hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

GERD is a manageable condition with the right combination of lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and medical treatment. Understanding the symptoms of GERD in adults, exploring GERD diet plans, and knowing how to stop GERD are crucial steps toward a better quality of life. If you experience persistent GERD symptoms, seek professional medical advice to tailor a treatment plan that works best for you.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of GERD, visit ENT of Georgia South to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards relief.

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