What You Should Know About Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

171578741_heartburn_Patrick_Heagney.jpg
Courtesy Patrick Heagney (Getty Images)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents reflux back up into the esophagus. The links are to resources on GERD in infants, GERD in children and adolescents, GERD diets information, GERD recipes, meds and other remedies for treating GERD, complications of GERD, and surgical procedures for treating GERD.

The links below will take you to resources that will give you the information you need as you live with GERD.

The Basics

  • What You Need to Know About GERD: Whether you suspect you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or you are newly diagnosed, you will want to know the symptoms, the causes, and the treatment of GERD.
  • GERD Fast Facts: Did you know that heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD? Did you know that millions of Americans suffer from GERD? What can trigger GERD symptoms? Learn the facts about GERD.

Different Types

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux disease, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus.
  • Nonerosive Reflux Disease - NERD: For some patients, GERD can cause erosive esophagitis, a condition that causes inflammation, swelling, or irritation of the esophagus. In recent studies, however, it has been found that less than half of GERD patient suffer from esophagitis. They have what is called nonerosive reflux disease, or NERD.
  • Refractory Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: The term refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease (refractory GERD) describes those patients who continue to have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux despite standard treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

  • Symptoms of GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents reflux back up into the esophagus. Knowing the symptoms can help you receive a diagnosis and treatment sooner.
  • Causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Most people will have mild and temporary heartburn if they eat too much acidic foods. But the persistent acid reflux that occurs with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is do to other factors. These factors are various conditions that include abnormal structural or biological factors.
  • Treating GERD - How Is GERD Treated?: Depending on how severe your GERD is, treatment may involve one or more of the following lifestyle changes and medications or surgery. Learn what these options are.
  • Are You Managing Your Heartburn on Your Own?: The good news is that with proper diagnosis and follow-up, most people can be successfully treated for heartburn. The first step is recognizing when it’s time to seek medical attention.
  • Complications of Acid Reflux Disease: If gastroesophageal reflux disease goes untreated or is under-treated, the constant acid reflux can begin to irritate the lining of the esophagus. When this happens, complications can set in.

    Gerd in the Elderly

    Diagnostic and Medical Tests

    • Upper Endoscopy: The upper endoscopy test allows a doctor to examine the inside of a patient's esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) with an instrument called an endoscope, a thin flexible lighted tube. What can you expect if your doctor orders this test for you?
    • PH Test: If your doctor suspects you have GERD, he or she may use a pH test. It can measure the amount of stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. What can you expect if your doctor orders this test for you?
    • Barium X-rays: Barium x-rays are diagnostic x-rays in which barium is used to diagnose abnormalities of the digestive tract. What can you expect if your doctor orders this test for you?

    GERD in Children

    • Preventing Infant Reflux: Many babies have spitting up problems that don't require treatment. Referred to as "happy spitters," their symptoms usually disappear after six to eight months. For some infants, however, their symptoms are a sign of something more serious than routine spitting up, and medical advice should be sought.
    • Symptoms of GERD in Teens: Because of the increasing consumption of fast food and ever-expanding waistlines among teens, GERD is an increasing problem in teenagers. If your teenager experiences any of the following symptoms, medical attention is needed.
    • Symptoms of Infant Reflux: Reflux occurs often in normal infants. More than half of all babies experience reflux in the first 3 months of life. Reflux can become a more serious concern in some infants, when medical attention is needed, and knowing the symptoms of chronic reflux is important.
    • Symptoms of GERD in Children: Children and even infants can suffer from heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease. What are the symptoms of gastro reflux in children?
    • Diagnosing Acid Reflux in Infants: If your baby is healthy and growing well, the doctor may make a diagnosis of reflux on a parent's description of symptoms and feeding history, and a physical exam alone. Many, if not most, cases of reflux in infants are diagnosed without the need for any testing. However, your baby's doctor may order tests if he or she suspects a more serious condition, such as GERD.
    • Treating Teens with GERD: Because of the increasing consumption of fast food and ever-expanding waistlines among teens, GERD is becoming an increasing problem in teenagers. The severity of their GERD symptoms are will determine what their treatment should be.
    • Treating Infants with GERD: Treatment of infant reflux depends on the severity of the problem. Treatment can include lifestyle modifications or medications.

    Continue Reading