GERD, the Condition Known as Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or “acid reflux” is a condition in which stomach contents regurgitate, or flow upward back up into the food pipe (esophagus).

Symptoms

Heartburn, often described as a burning feeling in the throat or chest, is the most common symptom associated with GERD. Less typical symptoms experienced can include chronic cough, trouble swallowing, voice hoarseness, or a sensation of swelling in the throat. When these symptoms occur without classical heartburn, the term “silent reflux” or LPR (Laryngo-pharyngeal reflux) is used.

Complications

Although most of the time GERD is not dangerous, if left ignored and untreated, complications can occur including ulcers, sleep disruption, and scarring of the food pipe which can cause food to get stuck after swallowing. The most dreaded complication of acid reflux is the development of “Barrett’s” changes, which are the main risk factor for developing esophageal cancer.

Treatment

Acid reducing medications are often used as effective remedies for GERD. Additionally, lifestyle improvements including weight loss, discontinuing cigarette smoking, and acid reflux diet, including caffeine/alcohol limitation and avoiding late meals, can help with reflux management.

At Putnam Gastroenterology we have access to the most advanced diagnostic tools such as high definition endoscopy. Within a week we can exclude danger and set you on the road to keep you healthy and free of reflux symptoms.