Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders in the United States, with some studies stating 36% of all people experience heartburn at least once a month. Heartburn, also called acid reflux, is a burning sensation in the chest caused by acid moving from the stomach into the esophagus. This acid can irritate and sometimes damage the lining of the esophagus over time.

How Is GERD Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose it based on symptoms. If medications do not help or complications arise, an upper endoscopy by a gastroenterologist to examine the lower esophagus may be performed. A biopsy may also be necessary. Some physicians advocate endoscopy for all patients with longstanding GERD in order to rule out Barrett’s Esophagus.

What Should People With GERD Avoid?

  • Large meals before bedtime (eat at least 2 hours before and elevate the head of your bed by 6 inches).
  • Avoid caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and any other food that seems to increase the symptoms. Keep a diary of what foods or activities make the symptoms worse.
  • Discontinue smoking.
  • Wearing tight fitting clothes and certain activities, such as bending over can increase the symptoms. Obesity increases risk.
  • Certain medications can lower the esophageal sphincter pressure, such as: calcium channel blockers, theophylline, and anti-cholingeric medications and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. Please notify your doctor before discontinuing any prescribed medication.

What Is The Treatment For GERD?

  • Lifestyle modifications including dietary
  • Over the counter antacids/antagonists for initial treatment
  • If symptoms persist, consult your doctor for initiation of prescription strength proton pump inhibitor, histamine antagonist or pro-motility agents.
  • Patients may need titration of dose for adequate response. If not, then endoscopy should be performed.