GERD -causes, symptoms and treatment
Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the liquid contents in the stomach leak upwards into the esophagus. This action causes an irritation or slight inflammation in the esophagus leading to heartburn and other symptoms.
Causes of GERD:
Generally the food consumed passes from throat to stomach through the swallowing tube or food pipe called esophagus. This esophagus contains a ring of muscle fibers called sphincter at the end which prevents the food that entered stomach from coming backwards. When these sphincters fail to close properly it provides way for a mixture of some food particles, liquid contents and stomach acids to move upwards into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastro esophageal reflux and can even damage esophagus.
The various risk factors that cause the improper functioning of sphincter muscles are:Smoking (and possibly alcohol) remains the main cause. Hiatus hernia wherein a part of stomach moves above the diaphragm. Obesity Pregnancy.
Symptoms of GERD:
The more common symptom is heartburn or a painful burning sensation occurring in the chest region. Also the pain will be more while bending, lying down, eating and predominant in the night time. The other symptoms include nausea after eating, difficulty in swallowing, hiccups and change in voice.
Diagnosis and treatment:
An endoscopy technique named EGD is used to examine the esophagus and find the cause for the damage in it. The doctor inserts a thin tube which has a camera at the end into the mouth and passes it into the esophagus and stomach. In most people making some life style changes and avoiding foods that cause problem and eat the foods that will help in curing GERD. Avoid antacids, Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers. They just cause a lot of additional problems. Care has to be taken to avoid taking medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.