Gastroesophageal Reflux

By: Courtney Banning

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 is the cause of their GERD. Frequent acid reflux may also cause GERD.


Symptoms 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, and sour taste in the mouth.


The best way to try and prevent GERD is to change your diet and lifestyle, not drastically but small ways. Since a weak esophagus causes GERD try avoiding things that relax it like chocolates, nicotine, fatty foods, and caffeinated beverages. You may also try avoiding citrus food 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, quitting 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 perscription medication from your doctor. Also try avoiding the same sort of foods that those trying to prevent GERD may avoid. For more extreme treatment once may ask their doctor about a surgury 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 esophagus to the lower esophagus. This treatment strengthens the muscles in the esophagus.


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