Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
What Is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus. Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion.
Does GERD Have Another Name?
Doctors also refer to GERD as:
- Acid indigestion
- Acid reflux
- Acid regurgitation
How Common Is Acid Reflux or GERD?
Having acid reflux once in a while is common. However, GERD is a more serious, long-lasting form of gastroesophageal reflux. GERD can lead to more serious health problems over time.
GERD affects about 20 percent of the U.S. population.
Who Is More Likely to Have GERD?
Anyone can develop GERD, some for unknown reasons. You are more likely to have GERD if you are:
- Overweight or obese
- A pregnant woman
- Taking certain medicines
- A smoker or regularly exposed to secondhand smoke
What Are the Symptoms of GERD?
The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn.
Other common GERD symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen
- Problems swallowing or painful swallowing
- Respiratory problems
- The wearing away of your teeth
What Causes GERD?
GERD happen when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, causing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes due to certain things, such as:
- Increased pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant
- Certain medicines, including:
- Those that doctors use to treat asthma: a long-lasting disease in your lungs that makes you extra sensitive to things that you’re allergic to
- Calcium channel blockers: medicines that treat high blood pressure
- Antihistamines: medicines that treat allergy symptoms
- Aedatives: medicines that help put you to sleep
- Antidepressants: medicines that treat depression
- Smoking, or inhaling secondhand smoke
A hiatal hernia can also cause GERD. A hiatal hernia is a condition in which the opening in your diaphragm lets the upper part of the stomach move up into your chest, which lowers the pressure in the esophageal sphincter.
When Should I Seek a Doctor’s Help?
You should see Dr. Asamoah if you have persistent symptoms that do not get better with over-the-counter medications or change in your diet.
Please seek emergency care right away if you:
- Vomit large amounts
- Have regular projectile, or forceful, vomiting
- Vomit fluid that is:
- Green or yellow
- Looks like coffee grounds
- Contains blood
- Have problems breathing after vomiting
- Have pain in the mouth or throat when you eat
- Have problems swallowing or painful swallowing