What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common condition that affects the digestive system, specifically the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It’s the ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach.
Normally, the LES opens in order to allow food to go through the stomach and closes to prevent food and gastric juices to flow back into the esophagus. GERD occurs when LES is weak or inappropriately relaxes, causing stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus.
There are certain dietary and lifestyle factors that contribute to the development of GERD. Studies show that a diet high in fried or fatty food, chocolate, coffee, and alcoholic beverages can contribute to GERD. Smoking, being pregnant, and obese can also increase your chance of developing GERD.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
The most common symptoms of GERD include heartburn (a burning sensation felt on the chest area, usually after eating), difficulty in swallowing, sensation of having a lump in the throat, and regurgitation of food or sour liquid.
When to see a doctor?
Premier Surgical Associates recommends that you see a doctor if you’re experiencing chronic, ongoing GERD symptoms. When left untreated, GERD can lead to open sores in the esophagus, precancerous changes to the esophagus due to the regurgitation of stomach acid content, and narrowing of the esophagus.
What are the treatment options for GERD?
Initially, the doctor will recommend lifestyle modification and over-the-counter medications. Some of the most common OTC drugs for GERD include antacids, H-2 receptor blockers (e.g. famotidine, cimetidine, ranitidine), and proton pump inhibitors (e.g. omeprazole).
If symptoms persist even with modifications and lifestyle changes, the doctor may recommend surgery.
If you are still suffering from GERD symptoms despite the lifestyle changes and taking of OTC medications, you may be recommended for surgery. A thorough evaluation is needed before surgery is done. When GERD can no longer be managed by medication and diet, the board-certified surgeons of Premier Surgical in Knoxville, are skilled in surgically treating conditions of the alimentary tract. If you’re having difficulty finding relief for your long-term GERD symptoms, contact us today.