What Is GERD Disease?

Posted By Author on October 4, 2022

male with GI issues and possible GERD Disease

Heartburn is common, with the unpleasant burning sensation often indicating acid reflux. This condition is experienced by one in three Americans on a weekly basis, but with lifestyle modifications, most symptoms can be alleviated.

But if heartburn persists, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be to blame. Also called chronic acid reflux, GERD impacts abouts 20% of people. Heartburn is caused by acid from the stomach contents leaking back into the esophagus, and when it consistently occurs more than twice a week, GERD may develop.

Here at Charleston GI, our board certified gastroenterologists near you are equipped to treat a wide variety of conditions – including GERD! If you are experiencing painful symptoms, don’t suffer in silence. Schedule an appointment with our Charleston GI doctors today!

GERD Symptoms

What causes GERD?

The cause of GERD has not been determined, with researchers and doctors failing to reach an agreement. GERD in adults and children may be linked to several factors, such as the following:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking (or exposure to secondhand smoke)
  • Eating spicy or high-acidity foods 
  • Consuming large meals

Symptoms of GERD

The frequency of symptoms is the differentiating factor between GERD and acid reflux, with GERD patients often experiencing symptoms at least twice a week. Watch out for these common GERD symptoms:

  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Choking
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent heartburn
  • Persistent regurgitation
  • Persistent cough  
  • Sore throat 
  • Sensation of food stuck in your throat 
  • Hoarse voice

GERD, when left untreated, can lead to more serious conditions, such as esophageal cancer or ulcers. That is why it is important to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist in Charleston if you are experiencing persistent symptoms, like those listed above.

Keep in mind that children may experience different symptoms. If your child is having difficulty gaining weight, coughing or wheezing, refusing to eat (infants), or suffering from nausea and vomiting, Charleston GI can help. And there’s no referral needed!

How Is GERD Disease Treated?

While acid reflux is common, severe and persistent symptoms require medical attention. Here at Charleston GI, our team utilizes the most advanced tests and techniques, like esophageal manometry and endoscopy, to check the condition of the esophagus and reach a diagnosis.

If your GI specialist diagnoses you with GERD, they may recommend some of the following lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms: 

  • Lose excess weight
  • Consume smaller meals
  • Refrain from eating two to three hours before bedtime 
  • Skip foods that trigger heartburn (fried foods, high-fat foods, etc.) 
  • Don’t wear clothing that fits tightly around your abdomen
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco

Medication may be helpful as well, including:

  • Antacids (offer quick relief by neutralizing stomach acids)
  • H-2 receptor blockers (decrease acid production) 
  • Proton pump inhibitors (heal damaged esophagus tissue)
  • Baclofen (reduce the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent acid from flowing back into the esophagus)

For severe cases, surgery might also be an option for treating GERD. Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is the most common surgery performed, used to create a new valve at the bottom of the esophagus to prevent acid backwash.

Foods to Avoid with GERD Disease

Changing your diet can help relieve symptoms of GERD. This home remedy involves avoiding potential “trigger foods” like these:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods
  • Fatty foods (including dairy products)
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Tomato sauce
  • Garlic
  • Citrus
  • Onions

A diet rich in fiber and high-protein foods may be recommended. Consider adding vegetables, fruits (non-citrus), and foods with a high water content (cucumber, watermelon, lettuce, etc.) to your everyday diet.

Experiencing Chronic Acid Reflux? Visit Our Specialists At Charleston GI!

If you are experiencing chronic acid reflux or if your symptoms worsen, schedule your appointment at Charleston GI today! Our experienced doctors specialize in acid reflux and GERD treatment, so you can rest assured that you are in the very best hands.  

With four locations throughout the Charleston area, we’ve made great care more convenient! Visit us in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads.

Charleston GI doctors are ready 5 days a week to offer you medical relief. There’s no referral needed, so book your appointment today

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