Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease in which stomach acid (or occasionally bile) flows back up into the esophagus. This happens due to a failure of a muscle at the end of the esophagus to close normally. The symptoms of GERD are commonly associated with acid reflux and heartburn; however, when these symptoms occur frequently (more than twice a week) and cause interference in one’s daily life, it is termed GERD. While heartburn and reflux can oftentimes be manageable, people with GERD may need stronger medications and possibly surgery to reduce and manage symptoms.
- Dry cough
- Trouble swallowing
- Chest Pain
Who is at risk?
GERD can develop at all ages, but may be outgrown by infants experiencing symptoms before their first year of age. Increased risk factors can include asthma, obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, and hiatal hernia.
If you experience frequent symptoms of GERD, seek out a health care provider. Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist who can assess the severity of the condition and recommend a course of treatment. GERD can be treated by medications or even perhaps surgery.
GERD can also be treated by changing certain habits:
- Refrain from eating foods that cause heartburn (spicy, fatty, or acidic foods)
- Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeine
- Eat smaller portioned, frequent meals
- Eat no less than 3 hours before going to sleep
- Lose weight if necessary
- Wear clothing that isn’t constricting
- Quit smoking
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
If you are using over-the-counter heartburn medications more than twice a week to manage symptoms, see a doctor.
Treatment for GERD is available now at Newport Urgent Care in Newport Beach, CA.
For more information on GERD, see the following websites:
National Institute of Health GERD Overview
MayoClinic Definition of GERD