Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disease where your oesophageal sphincter weakens or malfunctions. This allows stomach acid to flow back (refluxes) into your oesophagus from the stomach, causing irritation and sometimes damage to the oesophagus lining.
Symptoms of GERD
People who have GERD may experience heartburn at least two to three times a week. You may feel it as a burning sensation in the centre of the chest, which sometimes spreads to the throat. There may also be an acidic taste in your throat. Other symptoms include:
- Stomach pain (pain in the upper abdomen)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Painful swallowing
- Persistent voice hoarseness
- Persistent sore throat or cough
- Chronic cough, new onset asthma, or asthma only at night
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
Diagnosis and Treating GERD
Your doctor will perform a physical examination and check your medical history. Your doctor may also recommend an endoscopy to confirm the symptoms. This procedure involves passing a small, flexible tube through your oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine to display your gastroesophageal lining.
Based on the symptoms and the severity of your GERD, your doctor may suggest several treatment methods for you:
Your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors or H2-reception blockers to reduce stomach acid production.
Your doctor may also recommend that you undergo lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or paying attention to your diet, to reduce your GERD symptoms.
If conservative medical treatment is unsuccessful, or if you require long term medication, your doctor may consider surgery as a treatment option.