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(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease )

GERD FAQs Quick Overview

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach contents, including acid, back up (reflux) from the stomach into the esophagus and even the throat.
  • The main symptom of GERD is frequent and persistent heartburn, which is pain or a burning sensation in the stomach or upper abdomen. Other symptoms of GERD include
    • regurgitation of bitter acid up into the throat,
    • a bitter taste in the mouth,
    • persistent dry cough,
    • hoarseness,
    • feeling of tightness in the throat,
    • feeling as if a piece of food is stuck in the throat,
    • wheezing, and
    • bad breath.
  • Causes of GERD include the:
    • A person's lifestyle (such as smoking, obesity, excessive alcohol intake)
    • Medications
    • Foods such as fried foods, chocolate, garlic, onions, caffeine, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, and mint), eating large meals, eating before bedtime
    • Medical conditions (including hiatal hernia, pregnancy, diabetes)
    • Tests to diagnose GERD include an upper GI (gastrointestinal) endoscopy, upper GI series (barium swallow), esophageal manometry, and 24-hour pH monitoring.
  • Lifestyle changes are the first-line treatment for GERD, including
    • not eating large meals,
    • not eating before bedtime, avoiding trigger foods,
    • avoiding alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking,
    • losing weight if overweight,
    • maintaining a good posture (avoid stooping and slouching), and
    • talking to your doctor about changing medications to ones that might not aggravate your GERD symptoms (do not stop taking any medication without first consulting your doctor).
  • Over-the-counter medications to treat GERD include antacids and acid blockers.
  • Prescription medications to treat GERD include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), or promotility drugs.
  • Surgery called fundoplication to treat GERD is a last resort in severe cases.
  • Prevention of GERD involves modifying lifestyle factors in diet, activity, and habits that trigger symptoms.

What is GERD (acid reflux)?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the esophagus (food pipe) becomes irritated or inflamed by stomach contents, including acid, backing up from the stomach. This backing up is called reflux. The main symptom is heartburn, but other symptoms may occur.

What are heartburn symptoms?

Heartburn symptoms include a burning pain in the center of the chest, behind the breastbone (see Media file 1). It often starts in the upper abdomen and spreads up into the neck. It usually starts about 30-60 minutes after eating and can last as long as 2 hours. Lying down or bending over can bring on heartburn or make it worse. It is sometimes referred to as acid indigestion. Not everyone with GERD has heartburn.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease »

Gastroesophageal reflux is a normal physiological phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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