Gastro-Esophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). It is very common, many people experience acid reflux from time to time. No need to panic but to be aware and do what is right.
Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, some people with GERD sometimes may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.
- Burning sensation in your chest (heart burn), usually after eating which might be worse at night
- Chest pain
- Nausea, sometimes vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
If you have night time reflux, you might also experience chronic cough, new or worsening asthma and disrupted sleep/restlessness.
GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux. When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach, then the sphincter closes again. If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.
Conditions that increase your chance of suffering from GERD: Obesity, eating large meals at a time or eating late at night, lying flat/sleeping immediately after eating, delayed stomach emptying, eating certain foods like fatty or fried food, some certain beverage like alcohol or coffee/caffeine, certain medications like aspirin, smoking, pregnancy.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose GERD based on history (signs and symptoms) and physical examination.
To confirm a diagnosis of GERD, or to check for complications, your doctor might recommend: endoscopy, x-ray of the upper digestive tract and others.
Consult your doctor and you will be given medications based on history, clinical findings and symptom severity.