Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly abbreviated as GERD, refers to a chronic condition where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, leading to irritation and potential complications. This backward movement occurs due to a weakened or dysfunctional lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscular ring between the esophagus and the stomach that usually acts as a barrier to prevent such reflux.

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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Symptoms:

GERD often manifests through symptoms like heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest that might worsen after eating, lying down, or bending over. Other symptoms include regurgitation of acidic contents, difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, hoarseness, and sometimes chest pain.

Causes:

Various factors contribute to GERD, including obesity, hiatal hernia, certain medications, smoking, and certain foods and beverages. Pregnancy can also increase the risk due to pressure on the abdomen.

Complications:

If left untreated, GERD can lead to complications such as esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus), esophageal strictures (narrowing of the esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus (changes in the lining of the esophagus that could lead to cancer), and respiratory problems due to acid reflux irritating the lungs.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosis involves a combination of medical history, symptoms evaluation, and sometimes diagnostic tests like endoscopy, pH monitoring, or X-rays. Treatment typically includes lifestyle modifications (such as dietary changes, weight management, and avoiding triggers), medications to reduce acid production or neutralize stomach acid, and in severe cases, surgery to reinforce the LES or correct anatomical issues.

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