Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Connecticut
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a term used to illustrate the consequence of the common occurrence of acid reflux in a person's bodily health. Acid reflux refers to a singular occurrence or experience of acid regurgitation from the stomach into the esophagus, described as heartburn.
An individual is typically diagnosed with GERD when acid reflux occurs in mild cases once a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux is experienced at minimum twice a week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is known to develop at any time in life, but it typically presents at close to 40 years of age. When ignored, people can come to develop a health concern called Barrett’s esophagus. If it happens that you could have GERD, we strongly recommend that you schedule a visit with a gastroenterology specialist at Connecticut GI in Connecticut as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
Whenever we eat food, it passes through the esophagus and beyond the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the stomach. Whenever the LES becomes compromised, it can lose strength and fail to stop stomach acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. Usually, there is not a single cause that makes this to occur repeatedly; however, you are at greater odds of suffering from or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease if you meet any or all of these criteria:
- Use of alcohol
- Consume large meals late at night
- Lie down often after eating
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
- Use of tobacco
- Consume raw onion or garlic
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper portion of the stomach bulges into the diaphragm)
- Coffee consumption
- Consume spicy foods
What are the common symptoms of GERD?
The major symptoms of GERD are similar to acid reflux but may be experienced more often. These symptoms include:
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquids
- Chest pain
- Persistent cough
- Disrupted sleep
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
You should request a consultation with a GI specialist at Connecticut GI today if you struggle with any of the listed symptoms with any frequency and are in pain or if you self-medicate with over-the-counter heartburn medication more than twice a week.
What are the treatments for GERD?
Managing gastroesophageal reflux disease could consist of lifestyle modifications, medical care, or a combination of both. Treatment approaches to prevent or relieve GERD in Connecticut patients include:
- Non-prescription antacids
- LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus)
- Remain awake and stand up after eating
- Lose excess weight
- Do not consume foods and drinks prone to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
- Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter
- Do not eat a minimum of two hours before bedtime
- Eat slowly and in moderation
- Sleep on an incline
- Limit caffeine/coffee consumption
- Fundoplication (surgery wrapping the stomach around the LES)
- Avoid smoking
- Inform your GI doctor about any medications you are taking
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
How do you know if it's GERD or acid reflux?
The primary differences between acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease can seem perplexing. Essentially, GERD is acid reflux that occurs frequently throughout the week for an extended period of time. If you have heartburn or other symptoms daily or several times within the week, or you have symptoms that do not ease with over-the-counter medications, you could be experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease.
What types of food should I cut from my diet if I am experiencing GERD?
Foods and beverages that promote the development of stomach acid should possibly be cut from your diet if you are diagnosed with GERD. Some of these items include:
- Coffee, soda, and other caffeinated beverages
- Spicy foods
- Red meat
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.)
- Foods containing salt and pepper
- High-fat foods
- Foods high in sugar
Our Connecticut GI team can provide further details on other foods to stay away from if you experience gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Can GERD be life-threatening?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is typically not life-threatening. It might make daily tasks more uncomfortable from time to time, but you can likely find relief with treatment. If not treated, GERD may lead to more complicated gastrointestinal issues. These involve esophagitis (inflammation of the lining of the esophagus) and Barrett’s esophagus, a disease that can damage the esophagus (the structure that connects the mouth and stomach). Seeking the care needed for GERD can help preserve your GI health and wellness.
How long does it take for GERD to improve with treatment?
A few factors influence how long it might take before you experience relief from GERD. These can include the form of medicine you’re taking, what sort of damage has occurred from GERD up until diagnosis, and how diligently you follow a diet without the foods that exacerbate symptoms. However, with treatment, your symptoms should lessen as time goes on. Although you might not be able to cure GERD altogether, you may be able to manage its symptoms effectively.
Personalized care for GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a very common concern touching the lives of countless people. With professional treatment, however, the condition can be well-managed, and its uncomfortable symptoms relieved. If you or a loved one suffers from GERD, the physician-led network of GI specialists at Connecticut GI is available to help. We encourage you to request an appointment at our practice to learn more about GERD treatment in Connecticut.
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