Health Concerns - Reflux / Heart Burn
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What is Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

GERD, otherwise known as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, occurs when secretions from the stomach enter into the esophagus. The esophagus is the long, muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Often these scidic secretions back up into the esophagus due to a weakening of the junction between the stomach and esophagus. Acidic fluids can be very irritating to the esophagus and lead to heartburn, acid taste, and other symptoms. Severe reflux can lead to erosions and stricture of the esophagus and quite possibly, a higher incidence of other complications.

What are the Symptoms of GERD?
Reflux can be associated with a myriad of confusing signs and symptoms, often leading to a delay in diagnosis. For instance, some forms of asthma and bronchitis can be linked to reflux of the acidic stomach secretions into the bronchial areas. Chronic cough, hoarseness, halitosis (bad breath), non-cardiac chest pain, chronic hiccups are also associated with reflux in certain situations.

Although GERD has been attributed to certain body types, foods and/or beverages, there are no clear predictive factors for this disease.

How do you Diagnose GERD?
GERD is a very common disorder with one in five people complaining of heartburn on a regular basis. Approximately one half of these people will have the more severe, erosive disease. Many physicians will recommend pH monitoring of the esophagus and/or an upper endoscopy (upper GI) to evaluate and diagnose GERD. This test is usually performed by a gastroenterologist in an outpatient setting using very mild sedation. It is well tolerated and considered relatively safe with few complications.

How do you Treat GERD?
Once the diagnosis is made, many options for treatment are available. The cornerstone of treatment focusses on preventing complications in patients with severe reflux and restoring quality of life. Uncomplicated GERD can be managed conservatively by elevating the head of the bed 6 inches, avoiding acid secreting substances like coffee, alcohol, fats and chocolate. Smoking has been shown to weaken the stomach-esophagus junction and should be ceased. Using an over-the-counter antacid (such as TUMS) 30 to 60 minutes after a meal and at bedtime is a standard recommendation.

Medications that limit acid secretion can be very helpful, and include Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac. Stronger acid inhibiting medications, called proton-pump inhibitors, are available by prescription and are the most effective medications to treat GERD. People with severe GERD, who do not respond to medical treatments, certain surgical procedures are recommended. A procedure called the Nissen fundoplication can be used in patients with intractable symptoms.

Please see your doctor or health care provider if you are concerned about GERD.

The information provided by MenopauseRx, Inc. is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health-care provider. Please consult your health-care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.