Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that more than 40 percent of Americans suffer from. Acid is a completely normal feature within your stomach, aiding in the digestion of food. In some cases, acids and bile will flow upward, or reflux, into your esophagus. This causes pain, discomfort, and indigestion. Reflux is caused by a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle is at the junction of your esophagus and stomach, and it functions as a valve that lets liquids and food pass through to the stomach.
Ordinarily, your LES is able to prevent gastric pressures from forcing acid and bile into your esophagus. But if the LES is weakened, acid and bile will reflux, creating injury to the lining of your esophagus and cause symptoms such as regurgitation, heartburn, chest pains, coughing, and sore throat. GERD can also limit daily activities, prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, affect your food tolerances, and cause daily pain. If this condition goes untreated, complications can potentially arise, such as:
- Esophagitis: inflammation or swelling of the esophagus
- Ulcer: open sore on the lining of esophagus
- Stricture: narrowing of the esophagus
- Barrett’s Esophagus: precancerous disorders in the esophagus
GERD is more common in obese people and pregnant women. Other factors that contribute are smoking, eating large meals or eating meals late at night (before going to bed), fatty or fried foods, alcohol or coffee, and certain medications like aspirin.
To help treat GERD, diet modification should be explored. Other options include over-the-counter (OTC) antacid medication, prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPI) medications, or surgery if the condition persists.
Southern Reflux Center can help. With more than two decades of reflux treatment experience, the center utilizes evidence-based reflux treatment methodologies, allowing for more accurate diagnosis and superior treatment plans focused on the root problems and not just the symptoms. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Southern Reflux Center by phone or online today.