What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
Find out more about this condition that plagues more than 3 million Americans each year.
Sometimes heartburn is just heartburn, other times it’s trying to tell you that something else is going on. If you have consistent heartburn, you could be dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). Anytime you are dealing with heartburn and you aren’t sure why it’s important to talk to one of the Northeast Philadelphia, Langhorne, and Bala Cynwyd, PA gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
When digestion is normal, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food into the stomach and closes to prevent stomach acid and food from going back into the esophagus. But when the lower esophageal sphincter is weak or not working properly, gastroesophageal reflux occurs and the contents in the stomach go back into the esophagus.
How severe your condition is will depend on how poorly functioning the lower esophageal sphincter is, as well as how much of the stomach’s contents goes back into the esophagus.
What are the symptoms?
While the most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, not everyone with this condition will experience heartburn. Heartburn is a burning pain in the chest and often occurs after mealtimes. Other symptoms include,
- Acidic taste in the mouth
- A lump in the throat feeling
- Bad breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Chest pain (with any chest pain, it’s important to see immediate medical attention to make sure that this isn’t being caused by a more serious condition)
What are my treatment options?
If you are taking over-the-counter heartburn relievers often or notice that your symptoms stick around even when taking medication, it’s time to turn to your gastroenterologist in Northeast Philadelphia, Langhorne, and Bala Cynwyd.
The most common treatment options include using over-the-counter medications like antacids to control your symptoms. But for those who aren’t experiencing the relief they need from these remedies there are these other options:
- H-2 receptor blockers: These medications are used to reduce acid production. While they won’t respond as fast as antacids, the relief is usually longer (up to 12 hours).
- Proton pump inhibitors: These medications not only block acid production, but also facilitate esophageal healing.
While both of these medications can be found at your local drugstore, stronger versions can also be obtained by visiting us for a prescription. If medications do not control your condition we can also talk to you about your surgical treatment options.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of GERD then it’s important to turn to our team of GI specialists in Northeast Philadelphia, Langhorne, and Bala Cynwyd, PA for a proper diagnosis. Call Gastrointestinal Specialists to schedule your next appointment.