Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition where the contents of your stomach flow back into your esophagus. This occurs due to a defect in the valve between your esophagus and your stomach. When the valve does not close properly, GERD can develop.
Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, burning sensation in your chest, and sometimes burning up to your mouth with acid regurgitation. This occurs when the contents or acid in your stomach irritate the lining of your esophagus.
Causes of GERD are many times related to conditions or habits that cause pressure on the abdomen that, in turn, apply pressure to the valve between your stomach and esophagus. Obesity or being overweight, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, pregnancy, and consumption of acidic foods such as citrus, tomato based foods/drinks, fatty foods, coffee and even peppermint can contribute to GERD symptoms.
Diagnosing GERD is done in several ways and depending on the severity of your symptoms. Some individuals with mild to moderate symptoms may be treated with medication, diet modification and weight loss (if necessary). If symptoms are resolved with these measures, further diagnostic testing is generally not required. For those with more severe and persistent symptoms, an Upper Endoscopy may be recommended. Your physician will insert a small tube into your esophagus and assess for any damage caused by GERD. Your physician may take biopsies if necessary.
Treatment for GERD involves lifestyle changes including diet changes, weight loss (if necessary), quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol consumption, and sometimes oral medication. Surgery may be recommended for those who continue to have symptoms after treatment and lifestyle changes or for those who do not tolerate medication management.