We’ve probably all heard the medical acronym GERD, but how many of us actually know what it means? GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This occurs when acid and other stomach contents regurgitate back into the esophagus frequently. It causes irritation on the esophageal lining.
The difference between GERD and heartburn mainly lies in the frequency in which it occurs. GERD is chronic and can happen to some people on a daily basis, some people even suffer from GERD every time they eat. Heartburn is infrequent and sporadic that only occurs sometimes or in reaction to certain foods.
Symptoms of GERD
Many of the symptoms that are consistent with GERD are symptoms similar to those of heartburn. The difference, again, being that GERD symptoms can be triggered daily while symptoms of heartburn happen far and few. Specific symptoms of GERD include:
- Acid Indigestion
- Bad breath
- Tooth erosion
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Excessive Saliva
- Sour taste in mouth
Symptoms of GERD can be long lasting or constant with every meal. If you are showing symptoms of GERD talk to your doctor so that you can come up with a plan to help relieve your symptoms.
Treatments for GERD
GERD is a very treatable disease. Those that seek out and are successful in treatment can greatly improve their quality of life. Many symptoms can be treated through monitoring your diet as well as a few medical procedures that most doctors’ offices can easily perform.
- The Stretta Procedure is a simple outpatient procedure that delivers radio-frequency energy to the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus. This causes the tissues to improve the muscle itself to remodel and fix any of the underlying problems that are causing GERD.
- A Nissen Fundoplication is a laparoscopic surgery that treats GERD by taking the upper part of the stomach and wrapping it around the lower end of the esophagus 360 degrees. This is helpful because it reinforces the closing function of the esophageal sphincter, which stops the acid and other stomach contents from coming up and causing discomfort.
- Radiofrequency Ablation is done by attaching a catheter to a balloon-like structure and guiding that through the patient’s mouth into the esophagus. The balloon is coated with a metal surface that, when inflated, will touch the lining of the esophagus. The doctor then administers a few small pulses of energy, which burn selected sections of bad cells, causing them to die in a controlled manner. This treatment will need to occur up to four times in order to remove all of the bad cells. Once the esophagus is healthy, it will naturally prevent future episodes of GERD
For many people, GERD can be prevented by doing small, simple tasks such as maintaining a health weight, avoiding nighttime snacks, and eating smaller meals. All of these things help to avoid stomach irritation. In turn, this prevents acid or other stomach contents from re-surfacing. Always remember to eat a healthy diet including lots of leafy greens, vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, and omega-3’s. These daily nutrients will help your body function the proper way.
GERD is not a disease that has to affect you for the rest of your life. If you are starting to notice that you suffer from many of its symptoms, talk to your doctor today to find a treatment that works for you.