Understanding Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is another chronic digestive disorder with uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating consequences. It's a common malady affecting about 20% of the adult population.  It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the trap between the esophagus and the stomach) fails to shut allowing food and stomach acid to reflux up from the stomach back into the esophagus.

While GERD could happen to anyone, there are certain lifestyle choice and risk factors that may cause GERD

  • Obesity or being overweight

  • Poor Diet

  • Smoking

  • Alcoholism

  • Pregnancy

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn and indigestion - esophageal tissue is thinner than the stomach's, causing the burning sensation in the throat.

Other symptoms of GERD include

  • Coughing

  • Belching

  • Bad Breath

  • Sore Throat

  • Hoarseness or Laryngitis

  • Difficulty Swallowing

  • Difficulty sleeping (lying flat can further enable stomach acid to move back into the esophagus)

Occasional heartburn does not mean you have GERD. Only when you experience these symptoms consistently and regularly are you diagnosed with GERD. There are various tests doctors can do to determine the prevalence of GERD. Once GERD is officially identified treatment and necessary lifestyle changes can begin in order to heal it.

Given GERD's prevalence amongst the population, too often those who experience GERD take its commonplace for granted and let it go untreated. Stomach acid that does not belong in the esophagus can wreak havoc and have detrimental long-term effect.

Left untreated these complications can occur

  • Inflammation of the esophagus

  • Esophageal bleeding or ulcers

  • Tooth decay

  • Respiratory problems

It's important to work with your health care provider in order to properly identify GERD and to figure out what the best course of treatment should be for you. Treatments for GERD range from natural lifestyle and holistic remedies to over-the-counter and prescription medications and even surgical procedures. Lifestyle habits may also be greatly beneficial to eliminating GERD. Unfortunately, GERD will most likely be a lifelong health concern, however, if treated properly it doesn’t have to be a constant setback.