Heartburn : Is it GERD?
What is GERD?
The term GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, a disorder that affects the valve that sits between the esophagus (your swallowing tube) and your stomach. This valve is a ring of muscle that opens to allow food to pass from the esophagus to the stomach and then closes to keep the food and acids in your stomach from moving back up into the esophagus.
Symptoms of GERD
While the main symptom of GERD is heartburn, there are others. These include:
- Regurgitation (liquid or food in the mouth that has returned up from the stomach)
- Indigestion (a feeling of fullness or discomfort during or after a meal)
- Hoarseness (a difficulty making sounds when trying to speak)
- Cough, asthma, lung infection
- Problems swallowing
Any of these red flag symptoms mean you should see your doctor right away:
- Weight loss
- Choking or shortness of breath
- Vomiting, including bringing up blood
- Black, tarry stools
Causes & triggers
GERD is caused by frequent episodes of regurgitation due to the valve sitting between the stomach and esophagus being weak or too relaxed. When this happens often, it leads to symptoms that are diagnosed as GERD.
If you suffer from GERD and you smoke you may want to quit. Studies have shown that cigarette smoking relaxes the LES.
Other factors that can contribute to GERD include:
GERD can interfere with day-to-day activities, work and recreation due to uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms. If not controlled it can lead to serious problems over time.
What can I do?
While some people may need medication to help control symptoms of GERD, changes in your diet and lifestyle are good places to start.
What else can I do?
Here are a few other frequently suggested ideas to reduce the symptoms of GERD. While none has been proven in a clinical trial, they have been seen to work for some people.
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
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