November is GERD Awareness Month!
What is GERD?
GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that occurs when the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus.
The lower part of the esophagus is surrounded by a circular band of muscle. This is what we call the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When we swallow, the LES relaxes to allow food and water to go through the stomach, and then, it closes to keep the stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
GERD can happen when the LES weakens or relaxes abnormally. As a result, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, irritating its lining.
There are certain conditions that can increase one’s risk of developing GERD. This includes obesity, smoking, pregnancy, hiatal hernia, and connective tissue disorders such as scleroderma.
How would you know you have GERD?
GERD is diagnosed through a combination of physical assessment and your history of signs and symptoms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of GERD include:
- Heartburn (a burning sensation in the chest)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of sour liquid
- The feeling of having a lump in the throat
Complications of GERD
If left unmanaged, GERD can result in laryngitis, chronic cough, worsening of asthma, and sleep difficulties.
There are medications that can help manage GERD. However, if these don’t work or improve your condition long-term, surgery may be recommended.
Nissen Fundoplication is an example of this surgical procedure. In fundoplication, the upper part of the stomach (called the fundus) is wrapped around the esophagus and sewn in place. This surgery strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter, keeping the stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus easily.
Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville and Cleveland, TN have surgeons who specialize in techniques that surgically treat GERD. Contact us now to request an appointment.