Gastroesophageal (GERD): The Most Common Digestive Disease

By | October 18, 2013

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is a permanent digestive malady that occurs when stomach acid comes up to your food pipe, causing damage to the lining of your esophagus, triggering the heartburn. Most people experience this condition use antacids for relief. However, when heartburn and indigestion fail to respond to antacids then it would be necessary for the patient to see their doctor. Gastroesophageal (GERD) Signs And Symptoms:

  • Heartburn followed by souring taste in the mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Dry cough
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Sore throat
  • Regurgitation (discharge of substance from the mouth, pharynx, or esophagus, generally characterized by the presence of undigested food or blood)
  • Irritation in the lining of the throat.

Factors Contribute to GERD:

  • Obesity
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome – a condition characterized by enhanced gastric acidity due to gastrin production
  • Hypercalcemia - this condition raises the level of gastrin production and thereby increases the volume of acidity in the stomach
  • Scleroderma and systemic sclerosis which causes esophageal dysmotility
  • Intake of medications like prednisolone
  • PregnancySmoking
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Delayed stomach emptying.

How is GERD diagnosed? Gastroenterologist are physicians that specialize in digestive system and is responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of GERD.  The gastroenterologist will not only review family history but may diagnose the condition based on symptoms and or an esophageal scope.   This is a procedure whereby the physician will use a scope with a camera at the tip to examine the esophagus for signs of GERD.  It is quite common for the physician to recommend  lifestyle changes in conjunction with the intake of H2 antagonist such as Ranitidine or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) such as nexium to treat GERD. If the initial treatment fails to respond, the doctor may conduct the following test:

  • Upper GI series
  • Upper endoscopy
  • Esophageal pH monitoring
  • Esophageal manometry

Treatment for GERD include Proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor blockers and/or antacids.  These are medications useful in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease.