Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disease that affects the digestive system. It occurs when the contents of the stomach, such as stomach acid and food, flow backward up the esophagus. If you have GERD, you can work with a digestive health specialist at your local hospital. Undergoing effective treatment for GERD will reduce your risk of developing complications, such as respiratory problems and esophagitis.
Causes and Risk Factors
The underlying cause of GERD is the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle that normally prevents the backflow of the stomach contents. Sometimes, GERD is caused by hiatal hernias, which are structural abnormalities in the area. They cause an opening in the diaphragm, through which stomach contents may pass. Certain factors can increase your risk of developing GERD, such as being overweight or obese, being pregnant, and using tobacco or inhaling secondhand smoke. The use of certain medications can also increase your risk, such as antihistamines, sedatives, and antidepressants.
The primary symptom of GERD is heartburn; however, not everyone with GERD experiences heartburn. Other symptoms of GERD may include nausea, vomiting, chest pain, bad breath, and sore throat. Asthma, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, and recurrent pneumonia may also indicate GERD.
A digestive health specialist can recommend an effective treatment plan for you, which may include over-the-counter medications such as antacids and similar medications. Other drugs that may be helpful include antibiotics, prokinetics, and H2 blockers. If you experience severe symptoms and medications aren’t sufficient, your doctor might recommend surgery.
Lifestyle changes can help you reduce GERD symptoms. Your doctor might recommend that you lose weight, quit smoking, and wear loose-fitting clothing. Sleeping with your head elevated and remaining upright for at least three hours after meals may also reduce symptoms.
Residents of the Hudson, FL area can turn to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point for solutions for GERD. The specialists at our Heart Burn & Swallowing Disorder Center will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan to manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Contact our hospital by calling (888) 741-5119 or visit our website to explore our range of services.