Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and acid reflux have been used interchangeably. GERD affects about 10 to 20% of adult population. It is a condition where stomach contents enter the esophagus due to a weak lower esophageal sphincter. Common symptoms include heartburn and a sense of acid or sour taste in the back of the mouth. Nausea and vomiting including blood may be seen. Trigger factors for GERD include acidic foods like tomato sauce and orange juice. Also chocolate, peppermint, coffee, carbonated beverages, alcohol, smoking, fried foods, large meals and lying down soon after eating can cause GERD. Hiatal hernia (a part of the stomach is pushed up above the diaphragm), results in a weak lower esophageal sphincter and leads to GERD.
It is important to pay attention to symptoms of GERD and seek medical help before complications develop.
Complications of GERD include:
1. Reflux esophagitis or inflammation of the esophagus leading to erosions or ulcers.
2. Difficulty with swallowing due to stenosis or narrowing of the esophagus. This is due to repeated inflammation with scar tissue formation.
3. Barrett’s esophagus where the lining of the esophagus changes to small intestinal lining. This can lead to a deadly form of esophageal cancer known as adenocarcinoma.
4. Atypical GERD which can cause hoarse voice, asthma attacks and esophageal spasm with chest pain.
GERD can be effectively treated in a majority of the patients by lifestyle modifications and medications. This includes avoiding trigger foods, eating at least three hours before lying down and elevating head end of the bed. Medications include antacids, acid reducers such as H2 blockers and Proton pump inhibitors.
Early diagnosis and treatment of GERD can avoid serious complications including cancer of the esophagus.
If you have GERD symptoms, please call (609)-917-9917 OR visit premiergastroenterologyofprinceton.com
PREMIER GASTROENTEROLOGY OF PRINCETON • PUNITHA SHIVAPRASAD, DO
5 PLAINSBORO RD, MEDICAL ARTS PAVILION • SUITE #360, PLAINSBORO, NJ 08536 CALL (609) 917-9917 or VISIT PREMIERGASTROENTEROLOGYOFPRINCETON.COM