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Gastroesophageal reflux disorder, more commonly known as GERD, is a condition that causes stomach acids to go back up the esophagus.
Normally, stomach acids do not go up into the esophagus as it is blocked by a muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter. But, for one reason or another, this sphincter gets relaxed in people with GERD, which causes stomach acids to go up the esophagus.
For the most part, GERD is not a life-threatening condition. However, if the stomach acids keep going up the esophagus, it can eventually damage the tissues and turn into a serious condition.
One common mistake that people make when it comes to GERD is mistaking it for a simple case of heartburn.
This is an easy mistake to make, since after all, GERD is chronic heartburn which means that they have almost the same symptoms. The main difference however is that heartburn happens only on occasion, and it is not a chronic condition.
But for a person with GERD, they may have attacks at least twice a week, or even more. The symptoms are usually more severe, and people with GERD suffer more discomfort compared to someone experiencing heartburn.
This is why it is important to never ignore your symptoms, because if GERD is left untreated, there is a possibility that it will develop into a more serious condition.
The symptoms of GERD can vary from person to person. This is because more severe cases of GERD usually have more drastic symptoms, and less severe cases have more manageable and tolerable symptoms.
When people ask, “What is GERD like?” a usual comparison is that it feels similar to heartburn.
However, the symptoms can be more severe, and people with GERD can experience the following:
These symptoms usually appear after eating too much food because the food starts to put pressure on the sphincter, which causes it to relax and makes stomach acids go up the esophagus.
In some cases, lying down can put pressure on the stomach, and cause these symptoms to manifest.
Now that we answered the question, “What is GERD like?”, it’s time to discuss what exactly causes GERD, as well as the risk factors of this condition.
GERD is primarily the result of having a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, or if it starts to relax when its not supposed to.
Here are some of the possible risk factors for GERD:
If you are at risk of gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or if you are already starting to experience the symptoms, it is important to take steps in order to prevent or manage this condition.
Early treatment can help prevent it from progressing further.
In order to find out if you have GERD or not, as well as how severe the condition is, getting diagnosed is important.
Together with studying a patient’s medical history, here are some ways that doctors can diagnose your condition:
An endoscopy is a procedure that uses an endoscope, or a camera attached to a long, thing tube, which is then put inside your mouth and down your throat. It is employed when there are signs of obstruction( dysphagia or odynophagia), weight loss, anemia , heme-positive stool and more than 5-10 years of symptoms.
This procedure is done under anesthesia, and allows doctors to see your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. If necessary, doctors can also take a biopsy or tissue sample.
This tests if the symptoms you are experiencing is caused by acid or not. In the Bernstein test, mild acid is dripped down your esophagus using a tube. This essentially replicates the symptoms of heartburn, and the doctor can find out if what you are experiencing is indeed GERD.
The ambulatory acid test monitors the amount of acid, or the pH level of your esophagus. A high level means that you have been experiencing acid reflux.
If your doctor identifies your condition as GERD, then treatment can start.
Here are some of the possible forms of treatment available for gastroesophageal reflux disorder:
Here are some ways of how to prevent gastroesophageal reflux disorder:
It is important to not simply dismiss any pain or burning sensation in your chest as a simple case of heartburn. If you frequently experience heartburn, then it might be a good idea to visit your doctor and see if it might be GERD.
Another thing that you can do would be to follow the preventive measures to stop your condition from getting worse. GERD may not be as serious as other health problems, but this does not mean that you can simply ignore it.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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