GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition which manifests through stomach acid being present in one's esophagus, triggering pain, burning sensation and numerous other health problems. This condition is commonly caused by an abnormal lower esophageal sphincter, hiatal hernia, abnormal contractions affecting the esophagus and slow process of stomach emptying.
Facts about GERD
When left untreated, GERD may damage the lining of the esophagus, triggering inflammation in frequent cases. Heartburn, regurgitation and nausea are the most common symptoms of GERD which has not reached a complicated state. On the other hand, when GERD becomes more serious, it triggers stomach ulcers and esophageal strictures, as well as Barrett's esophagus, asthma, cough, inflammation in the larynx and the throat, infections in the lungs and fluid accumulation in the middle ear and the sinuses. Since Barrett's esophagus may easily evolve into cancer, this is a condition which needs to be carefully monitored and timely treated.
Diagnosis and Treatment for GERD
Basically, numerous different tests can help doctors diagnose GERD. X-rays, biopsy, endoscopy, throat and larynx examination, a 24 hour esophageal testing session or emptying studies of the stomach, all can be helpful when it comes to GERD diagnosis and timely treatment. Additionally, esophageal motility testing and esophageal acid perfusion, both are additional ways of diagnosing the condition.
Once the diagnosis has been successful, possible treatments may involve lifestyle changes, treatment with certain medications called antacids or histamine antagonists. Also, proton pump inhibitors may be included in the treatment for GERD, along with pro-motility drugs, foam barriers and, finally, surgery and endoscopy.
Characteristics of GERD
In most cases, GERD is a chronic condition which troubles a person for the rest of his/her life, especially when the lining of the esophagus has been damaged. Cessation of treatment usually results in relapse of the problem over a course of a couple of months.
Many people experience some of the symptoms of GERD, even when this condition is not present. However, once you develop GERD, the acidity of the stomach liquid is higher and the damage is greater.
Nevertheless, you may counter many of GERD side-effects by standing up and, thereby, allowing the acid to flow back into the stomach due to the effect of the force of gravity. Also, when we eat, our organism does its best to counter the effect of the acid by producing bicarbonate-containing saliva, neutralizing the acid. Unfortunately, these defense mechanisms work only during the day since during the night people are not in their upright position and the acid cannot return to the stomach. This is why majority of people experience most GERD problems while sleeping.