What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a common disease that affects adults and children, and about 20% of the U.S. population, according to the National Institute of Health. 

Occasional acid reflux (also known as GER or gastroesophageal reflux) is a very common problem where gastric contents flow back into the esophagus. But those who suffer from reflux more than twice a week may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is more serious and can lead to serious health problems like esophageal inflammation, failure to gain weight, respiratory symptoms, or choking.

In children, GERD can also be referred to as pediatric reflux disease.

What Causes Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens spontaneously or does not close properly, and the contents of the stomach, including digestive juices or acid, rise into the esophagus. 

You are more likely to have GERD if you are:

  • overweight or obese
  • a pregnant woman
  • taking certain medicines
  • smoke
  • exposure to secondhand smoke

What are the Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

With GERD, people may experience indigestion and may be able to taste food or fluid in the back of the mouth. If acid touches the lining of the esophagus, heartburn can result. Other symptoms include belching, dry cough, sore throat, and trouble swallowing.

In children, additional symptoms vary according to age and may include feeding problems, and extremely picky eaters in toddlers, isolated vomiting in school-age children, and heartburn and difficulty swallowing in teenagers.

What is the Treatment for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

If you think you may have GERD and have used over-the-counter reflux medications for more than two consecutive weeks, consult your physician. Your doctor may recommend modifications to your lifestyle and medications.  

If lifestyle changes and medications do not help treat your symptoms, your health care provider may suggest an Upper Endoscopy to examine your esophagus for abnormalities. Surgery may be warranted.

Have questions about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

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Prevention & Treatment

Upper Endoscopy (EGD)

A procedure that uses a thin scope with a light and camera to view the upper digestive system. Learn more about this procedure and schedule an appointment with a Gastro Health physician at a convenient location.

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