Many people experience acid reflux from time to time. However, when acid reflux happens repeatedly over time, it can cause GERD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that many people suffer from without understanding the cause. Symptoms of GERD are shared with a wide range of other conditions which means it can be difficult to self-diagnose and treat. If you are experiencing GERD symptoms and are searching for a professional team to correctly diagnose and treat your condition, the AAENT team is here to help.
What is GERD?
Your esophagus is the direct connection between your mouth and your stomach. GERD is a long-lasting condition that happens when your lower esophagus does not close as it should. This opening permits your stomach contents to leak back into the esophagus and cause irritation and inflammation. Although many people have never heard of GERD, it occurs in approximately 20% of Americans. This makes GERD of the most frequent causes of chronic cough and throat irritation.
Symptoms of GERD
Many of the symptoms of GERD depend on the patient’s age group. However, common symptoms include heartburn, upper abdominal or chest pain, prolonged cough, and trouble swallowing. Patients with GRED may also experience regurgitation of food or sour liquid and the sensation of a lump in their throat. Many of these symptoms are common in other health conditions which can lead to misdiagnosis of GERD. Experienced healthcare providers like the Anne Arundel ENT team can help treat your symptoms faster.
Who is more likely to have GERD?
Both infants and adults can develop GERD. However, certain conditions and lifestyle choices increase your chances of developing GERD. For instance, you are more likely to develop GERD if you are overweight or pregnant. People who smoke frequently or are constantly exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher chance of developing GERD. Taking certain medications may also increase your chances of an irritated esophagus.
Medications and dietary supplements that worsen GERD symptoms include but are limited to:
- Anticholinergics that are prescribed for overactive bladder and irritable bowel syndrome
- Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, doxepin, others)
- Calcium channel blockers, statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and nitrates used for high blood pressure and heart disease
- Narcotics (opioids), such as codeine, and those containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Norco, Vicodin, others)
- Sedatives or tranquilizers, including benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) and temazepam (Restoril)
- Theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theochron)
If you have been prescribed any of these medications and have GERD symptoms, consult with an AAENT specialist to learn more about your symptoms, medication side effects, and treatment & relief methods.
How do doctors diagnose GERD?
Gastroenterologists are physicians who receive specialized training to treat conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and liver. During an initial consultation, if your symptoms suggest you have GERD, your doctor may recommend medication and lifestyle changes to minimize symptoms. If these changes do not help alleviate your symptoms within a few days, a more proactive treatment plan will be created which may include a variety of in-office tests. The physicians of Anne Arundel ENT in Annapolis, MD strive to provide personalized treatment with transparent care for every patient. Find out more about how our specialists can help you and your family by scheduling a consultation today.
GERD Treatment and Home Remedies
GERD treatment aims to cut down on the amount of reflux and lessen damage to the lining of the esophagus from refluxed materials. Often, patients are recommended over-the-counter or prescription medications to treat minor symptoms. Medications may include:
- H2 blockers
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
Similarly, certain lifestyle changes can provide relief from the symptoms and worsening of GERD. These include:
- Avoid trigger foods and beverages
- Eat smaller servings
- Eat slowly
- Chew your food thoroughly
- Stop smoking
- Elevate your head during sleep
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Wear loose clothes