By: Kaley Price
Gastroesophageal means of the stomach and esophagus and reflux means to return or flow back. Combining these two, gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD) is the return of contents of the stomach through the esophagus.
Normally the lower esophagus opens up for food to enter the stomach and closes the rest of the time so the contents of the stomach cannot leave. In individuals with GERD their esophagus is either weak, or cannot close properly, which therefore causes GERD. Frequent acid reflux may also cause GERD.
Symtoms of gastroesophageal reflux may include:
- chest pain
- difficulty swallowing
- dry cough
- feeling as though there is a lump in the throat
- heart burn
- acid reflux
- sour taste in mouth
The best way to try and prevent GERD is to change your diet and lifestyle, not drastically but in some small ways. Since a weak esophagus causes GERD, you should try avoiding things that relax it like: chocolates, nicotine, fatty foods, and caffeinated beverages. You might also try avoiding citrus foods or drinks, carbonated drinks, and spicy foods because they may upset the esophagus lining.
There are several different methods to treating the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. Ways to prevent/treat symptoms are staying active at least three hours after eating, eat smaller meals, maintaining a healthy weight, no smoking, wearing loose clothes, or laying on your left side at night. GERD and its symptoms may also be treated with over the counter antacids, or in chronic cases of GERD prescription medication from your doctor. Also, try avoiding the same sorts of foods that those trying to prevent GERD may avoid. For more extreme treatment one may ask their doctor about a surgery called fundoplication. In this surgery the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus is strengthened. There are also endoscopic treatment where a small tube is put down the mouth and throat and into the lower esophagus. This treatment strengthens the muscles in the esophagus.