What is GERD?

GERD is inflammation of the lower part of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat and stomach. This problem causes heartburn and pain in the area below the breast bone.

How does it occur?
GERD is caused by gastroesophageal reflux, which is when the acid contents of the stomach flow back into your esophagus, causing heartburn. Your esophagus may become inflamed if the reflux of acid happens often.

GERD can occur with:

  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • hiatal hernia
  • recurrent vomiting
  • scleroderma
  • nasogastric tubes

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can appear when you lie down after eating and are often relieved you sit upright. They include:

  • heartburn
  • cramping, severe pain or pressure below the breastbone
  • pain
  • spitting up at niqht
  • difficulty swallowing
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • asthma symptoms
  • fluid or vomit inhaled into the lungs
  • Hoarseness
  • sore throat

Heartburn, the most common symptom usually occurs 30 to 60 minutes after you eat and may be severe. The pan may spread to your neck, jaw, arms and back.

How is it diagnosed?
The doctor will review your symptoms and examine you and may order the following tests:

  • x-ray
  • endosoopy (using a viewing scope to look in the esophagus)
  • esophagealmanometrv (a test to measure pressure in the esophagus)
  • esophageal pH study (a test to measure the reflux of acid into the esophagus)

How is it treated? The doctor may prescribe:

  • medicine to reduce acid production or relieve acid effects
  • medicine to help food and acid move forward through the digestive tract

When your esophagus narrows from repeated inflammation and scarring, the doctor may:

  • dilate our esophagus
  • use surgery to restore and anchor the stomach below the diaphragm
  • use bypass surgery to create a new segment of esophagus from a stomach tube

Surgery may be necessary for less than 25 percent of those with GERD. How long will the effects last?

The duration of symptoms and response to treatment varies from person to person.

How can I take care of myself?Follow these guidelines:

  • Take medications with plenty of liquid. Swallowing medication dry or without enough liquid can irritate the esophagus.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • Avoid eating chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, citrus foods, caffeine or tomato products.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes without belts.
  • Sleep with the head of your bed elevated by at least six inches.
  • Maintain your proper weight.
  • Keep your follow-up appointment with your doctor.
  • Let your doctor, know if your symptoms get worse.

What can be done to help prevent GERD? Follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid stress, especially during meals.
  • Eat frequent, small meals.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid lying down for at least three hours after meals.
Mission Health Care Network | 2525 de Sales Avenue | Chattanooga, TN 37404 | MissionHealth@memorial.org
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