What Is acid reflux, or GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. This backwash (acid reflux) can cause irritation to the lining of your esophagus.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
GERD symptoms can vary tremendously amongst patients. In general, these symptoms include heartburn (burning sensation in the chest), regurgitation (when acid or even undigested food comes back up your throat or mouth), stomach or chest pain, an unexplained cough, difficulty swallowing, a lump sensation in throat (sometimes called “globus sensation”), a sore throat and voice changes or hoarseness. Occasionally, symptoms will occur at night, enough to even wake you from sleep, sometimes causing you to cough or choke.
If untreated, complications can arise, including esophageal strictures or narrowing of the esophagus that can occur from stomach acid causing scar tissue to form. This can lead to difficulty with swallowing. Esophageal ulcers can develop from chronic acid exposure, and the ulcers can bleed or cause pain. Also, precancerous changes to the esophagus known as Barrett’s esophagus can occur. These changes are associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer
How Is acid reflux diagnosed?
GERD can be diagnosed based on medical history, symptoms, and tests such as barium study, and upper endoscopy or EGD. Ambulatory pH testing, either done via a trans-nasal probe or by a wireless recording device (known as a Bravo probe), is also useful to help identify acid reflux.d
How is acid reflux treated?
Treatment for GERD is tailored to each patient, with the goal of choosing therapy that best matches each individual’s disease pattern and severity. Treatment often involves recommendations for behavior modification, including weight loss and dietary changes, smoking cessation and avoidance of large meals late in the evening near bedtime. Medications also are very effective, and safe, for the long-term treatment and control of GERD symptoms, and to prevent long-term complications. Endoscopic therapy can be very effective for certain complications from long-standing GERD. Finally, for severe cases, surgical therapy remains a very good option with excellent long-term results.
Our experienced team of physicians and advanced practice providers at Associates in Gastroenterology can help you with your concerns, questions and management of all aspects of gastrointestinal and liver disease. We would love to be your gastroenterology practice. Please schedule an appointment either by calling us (719-635-7321) or by clicking here.
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