If you have been told you have GERD…you are not alone. Some experts estimate that 20% of adults in the U.S. suffer from this uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition.
GERD is defined as gastroesophageal reflux disease. The most common symptoms are heartburn and regurgitation. You may also have chest pain, difficult or painful swallowing, hoarseness, sore throat, a lump in your throat, chronic cough, or asthma exacerbations.
GERD occurs when stomach contents reflux or wash back into the esophagus and cause symptoms or damage the esophagus. This most often occurs after eating because the stomach is distended. It is more common if you: have a hiatal hernia, are overweight or are pregnant.
The diagnosis of GERD can be based on symptoms alone if you are experiencing typical symptoms. Sometimes, an upper endoscopy (EGD) may be necessary to rule out complications.
Treatment options will depend on your situation. In many cases, lifestyle changes may first be recommended to reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Here are 10 suggestions I offer my patients:
If these lifestyle changes don't help, your healthcare provider may recommend a medication known as a histamine antagonist (such as Pepcid, Zantac or Tagamet). If symptoms persist despite a histamine antagonist, you may need a PPI medication (Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, Protonix, Aciphex, or Dexilant). PPI's should be taken once a day, 30 minutes before breakfast. Treatment should then be re-evaluated after eight weeks. If lifestyle changes and medication do not offer enough relief, you will need to discuss this with your healthcare provider.