Gastroesophageal reflux is the medical name for acid indigestion. It’s that burning, uncomfortable sensation that you feel after eating certain foods, or eating too much.
If you have acid trouble a couple of times a week for several weeks, you likely have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD is associated with several other, more serious conditions.
The cause of GERD
At the bottom of your esophagus, there’s a tight band of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter. When that muscle is weak, it can’t form a tight seal between your stomach and your esophagus, and the contents of your stomach can flow back up through it, causing the burning, acid feeling.
There are a few things that can make it more likely you’ll develop GERD, including:
- Hiatal hernia
Some foods and drinks can contribute to GERD, such as:
- Fried or fatty foods
- Carbonated beverages
Finally, there are some medications that can increase the chances you’ll develop GERD:
- Alpha blockers
The impact of GERD
The number of people with GERD is increasing. Experts estimate that about 20% of the US population has GERD. It can affect you regardless of gender, age, race, or ethnicity.
Without treatment GERD can lead to more serious problems. For example, the stomach acid can cause scarring in your esophagus, making it narrower — a condition called esophageal stricture.
Other potential issues include esophagitis, which is inflammation in your esophagus, and respiratory problems because stomach acid can enter your lungs.
However, for most people and with proper treatment, GERD is manageable, often with over-the-counter medications.
Useful facts about GERD
If you have GERD, there are some things you may not know about the disease. For example, you may associate the idea of acid reflux with heartburn. In reality there are two types of reflux, one that is called heartburn reflux and the other is sometimes called throatburn reflux.
In heartburn reflux, as you may have guessed, you have heartburn. However, with throatburn reflux, you may have a chronic cough, or feel like you have a lump in your throat, and you may not ever have heartburn. Medically, heartburn reflux is GERD and throatburn reflux is laryngopharyngeal reflux, or LPR.
Reflux causes inflammation, and certain dietary choices can help reduce inflammation. Aim to avoid foods high in acid, and to consume foods that are high in fiber. Try to eat a good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
If you have reflux often, discuss it with your care provider at Apex Medical Center. GERD can now be diagnosed without sedation, and in addition to the non-pharmaceutical approaches to treating the disease, there are medications that could help. The less inflammation, the less likely your GERD will lead to a more serious condition.
Book an appointment today online or by phone. Our staff is happy to answer your questions and help you manage GERD. You don’t have to live with chronic reflux!