Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

What is it?

GERD, or acid reflux, is a condition where acid, which is usually present in your stomach, backs up into the esophagus or the food pipe that connects your mouth to your stomach. The symptoms can be more prominent and bothersome in people with hiatal hernias.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of acid reflux can vary from person to person and include both typical and atypical symptoms. They include:

  • Heartburn: a burning feeling in the chest
  • Regurgitation: when acidic foods back into the mouth or throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Constant throat clearing
  • Changes in voice or sore throat
  • Unexplained cough

How is it diagnosed?

GERD can be diagnosed with an EGD or upper endoscopy, where a flexible camera is used to look at your esophagus and stomach. With this procedure, we even have the option of using a wireless probe to measure acid levels in your esophagus. This helps us determine if your symptoms may be related to reflux.

How is it treated?

Reflux is mainly treated with antacids and other medications that reduce stomach acid, depending on the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Patients with a large hiatal hernia that is making their symptoms of reflux worse may benefit from surgery to repair the hernia and improve their symptoms. Some things you can do on your own to help your reflux are losing weight, raising the head of your bed, and avoiding late-night meals and foods that make your symptoms worse.

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