Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition that is often characterized by frequent bouts of heartburn as well as discomfort in the upper abdominal area. What causes it are powerful stomach acids that make their way up to your esophagus.
These misplaced stomach acids can irritate the upper digestive tract, even the throat and mouth. If you experience heartburn at least twice a week, it’s highly likely that you have GERD.
Many people assume that GERD is the same thing as acid reflux, but GERD is actually a more advanced version of acid reflux and should not be ignored. Leaving it untreated can eventually cause serious consequences, so it’s best to see an experienced doctor for an evaluation.
Common GERD Symptoms
The symptoms of GERD are similar to the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. The difference lies in their frequency, severity, and the medication used to address the symptoms. With GERD, you are going to need stronger medication and to make minor lifestyle adjustments in order to address, and hopefully stifle, the underlying disease.
Common symptoms of GERD include:
- A burning sensation in your stomach and chest after eating (heartburn)
- Chest pain
- Bad breath
- Regurgitation in your mouth/throat area
- Sore or painful throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Loss of tooth enamel
- Respiratory issues
What Causes Acid Reflux?
If you suffer from regular episodes of heartburn or acid reflux, then there could be something wrong with your gastrointestinal system. Oftentimes, it’s a faulty flap (sphincter) at the bottom of your esophagus where it meets your stomach, and it fails to prevent stomach acids from flowing back up into the esophagus.
Many people eat spicy foods that can cause acid reflux to develop further. Others eat a late dinner and then lie down on the couch or the bed, but the body relies on gravity to help with digestion – so it’s better to sit up as much as possible for several hours between supper and bedtime.
How Is GERD Treated?
Most adults who have GERD respond well to prescription medication. You may also be advised by your doctor to get a bed wedge to keep your upper body elevated while you sleep, as this helps in digestion.
In severe cases of GERD, surgery may be needed to successfully address the issue and prevent more serious complications, such as stomach cancer or esophageal cancer.
Risk Factors for GERD
Early treatment of GERD calls for lifestyle changes. Risk factors include being overweight or eating a large dinner at night. Therefore, healthy weight management is always part of the treatment plan.
Drinking alcohol, drinking a lot of coffee, and smoking can all aggravate GERD. Your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking and reduce your coffee/alcohol intake.
Why You Need Medical Attention
If you are experiencing frequent heartburn to the point that you’re used to it, make an appointment with an experienced doctor right away. Complications associated with GERD include sores and scar tissue development in the esophagus, and precancerous changes can lead to esophageal cancer.
Therefore, the earlier you seek treatment, the less extensive the treatment plan will be. Plus, you may be able to stop it from recurring altogether.
Preventive Care and Treatment for GERD in Frisco, Texas
If you are looking for preventive care for your heartburn or gastroenterological issues, come to Star Medical Associates. Our medical team’s goal is to help you prevent serious complications that could result from this seemingly benign condition.
To schedule a consultation with our primary care and wellness providers, call us today at (940) 382-6900 in Denton or (469) 301-2300 in Frisco. You can also fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to being your healthcare partner.