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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (gerd) Information
By D Ruplinger, Thu Dec 8th

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is the medical termfor what most people refer to as acid reflux disease.

Gastroesophageal is a relatively new term for acid refluxdisease. It has been used for approximately the past 20 years.Before that it was just referred to as heartburn. But heartburnis just one of the symptoms of GERD. Some of the other symptomsof GERD are regurgitation, hoarseness or laryngitis, the feelingof a lump in the throat, coughing, bad breath, asthma,difficulty swallowing, and water brash. Some people with GERD donot have any symptoms at all.

What happens to cause GERD? It starts with acid in the stomachwashing back up into the esophagus repeatedly, which happens ifthe lower esophageal sphincter becomes relaxed.

Some foods and beverages can cause the lower esophagealsphincter to relax. This is not an all-inclusive list but someof the most common are: chocolate, licorice, peppermint, fattyfoods, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol. Barbiturates,calcium-channel blockers, Diazepam and Sumitriptan are some ofthe medications that cause the lower esophageal sphincter torelax and allow acid back in to the esophagus.

Lifestyle changes can be very effective in helping to controlGERD although over- the-counter medications, prescriptionmedications, and possibly surgery, may also be necessary. Someof the lifestyle changes that may help control GERD include:losing weight if you are overweight, avoiding high-fat foods,not lying down right after eating, not eating large heavy meals(i.e. don't overstuff yourself--especially on fatty foods), andstopping smoking if you are a smoker.

GERD can be a difficult disease to diagnosis. That is because ofthe wide range of symptoms people can experience and thecomplication of some people not experiencing any symptoms atall. It is easier to diagnosis if a person is experiencing theclassic symptoms of GERD which are heartburn and regurgitation.In some cases a physician will not do tests right

away but willfirst prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications tosee if they clear up the symptoms.

If the medications do not take care of the symptoms then aphysician will likely do one or more of the following diagnostictests: x-rays with a barium swallow, an upper gastrointestinalx-ray series, an upper endoscopy, an esophageal manometry, or a24-hour pH probe. The reason physicians may try over-the-counteror prescription medications before running tests is because someof the tests, such as the upper endoscopy and pH probe areinvasive, and because of the costs of some of the tests.

After diagnosing GERD, a physician will recommend lifestylechanges such as the ones mentioned earlier in this article tohelp control the GERD, and depending on the severity willrecommend over-the-counter medications or will prescribe astronger medication by prescription. The medications may need tobe continued indefinitely because over half of all people whostop taking their medications after getting their symptoms undercontrol have a recurrence within a year.

If the medications do not alleviate the symptoms, surgery may beneeded. Surgery is also an alternative to having to takemedications indefinitely. A procedure called a "Nissenfundoplication" is the type of surgery typically done to relieveGERD. In the surgery the upper part of the stomach located nearthe esophagus, called the "fundus," is wrapped around the loweresophagus. Doing this strengthens the barrier function of thelower esophagus, thus preventing gastreosophageal reflux andrepairing the main irregularity that occurs in people sufferingfrom GERD. The surgery is usually done laparoscopically. It isconsidered a safe surgery (but remember any surgery carriesrisks) that typically gives good results.

About the author:D Ruplinger is a featured writer for For more information about acidreflux and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) visit


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