GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a chronic digestive condition that occurs when stomach acid or sometimes bile, flows back into the esophagus. This irritates the lining of the esophagus and triggers other symptoms, including heartburn and acid reflux. Every person occasionally experiences heartburn and acid reflux. However, if these conditions occur frequently, and hinder daily activities, doctors diagnose this condition as GERD.

The role of the esophagus in the digestive process is simple: to transport food from the throat to the stomach. Normally when you swallow food, the lower esophageal sphincter, a band of muscle circling the bottom portion of the esophagus, relaxes; enabling liquid and food to flow into the stomach. If the muscle weakens or relaxes unusually, GERD occurs.

Common symptoms of GERD include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Problems swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Chest pain

The following conditions put you at a higher risk of developing GERD:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes

Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums or Rolaids can neutralize stomach acid, which provides some relief. However, over using some antacids can cause constipation, diarrhea or other side effects. If you take over-the-counter medicines more than two times a week to relieve heartburn, contact our office to schedule an appointment. Our doctors can prescribe a stronger medication to decrease acid production, which provides more long-term relief. There are also medications available to block acid production, enabling the esophageal tissue to heal. If these initial treatment approaches do not work, your doctor may recommend stronger medicines. In addition, surgery may be an option if medications are not helpful.

Click here to view Dr. Duckworth's GERD article.


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