Is Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease Ruining Your Life?

Gastro-Esophageal reflux disease (GERD), also commonly referred to as acid reflux, is a disorder of the digestive system that is caused when gastric acid flows from the stomach back into the esophagus. The term ‘gastro-esophageal’ refers to your esophagus and stomach and reflux means to return or flow back and that is how this disease got its name. Some doctors believe that GERD is the end result of a condition called hiatal hernia which affects a person’s lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is located at the bottom of your esophagus and is a muscle that opens to let food pass through to your stomach and closes to keep it there. When this muscle relaxes for too long acid passes back into the esophagus and causes a person to experience heartburn.

What Are The Symptoms Of Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease?Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease

If you feel you are suffering from GERD then you should look at the following common symptoms of this disease.

  • Nausea
  • Belching
  • Burning or sharp chest pains behind your breast bone which may or may not worsen when you lie down, eat, or bend over. (Also known as heartburn and is the most common symptom of GERD)
  • Sore throat
  • Regurgitation (The reflux of stomach acid back into your mouth)
  • A recurring bitter or sour taste in your mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Burning pain in the epigastrium
  • Tightness in the upper abdomen or chest, especially pain that has waken you at night
  • Repeated need to clear your throat, wheezing, and/or coughing
  • Hoarseness (usually worse in the mornings)

If you are still having feelings that you may be suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux disease then you need to set up an appointment with your licensed family health care provider to have this further checked into and diagnosed as GERD or possibly another issue.

How Is Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease Diagnosed?

Once you have talked with your doctor and they think there is a possibility that you have GERD, other than diagnosing you by your symptoms, the doctor may want to do further testing to be sure. One thing your doctor may want to try is viewing your esophagus by x-ray or with an endoscope. An endoscope is a flexible, thin, long tube that has a light and camera and is inserted into your mouth to get a better look at your esophagus. Another procedure your physician may recommend is a twenty-four hour esophageal pH probe study. During this test a long flexible tube is inserted in your nose and down into your esophagus and left there for the duration of the study. This tube is used to detect acid levels and determine if you truly have GERD.

If Diagnosed, How Is Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease Treated?

If you are diagnosed by your physician with GERD there are several options for treatment available. One choice is to try inexpensive over-the-counter medications; if these do not help you can then try prescription medications given by your doctor. In several cases your doctor may want to try a combination of medications to fully take care of the problem at hand.