Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - GERD

There are many terms people use to describe their symptoms- heartburn, reflux, burping, belching, regurgitation, sour taste, water brash that all are part of GERD. These are the typical complaints. Some other complaints that MAY be associated with GERD include chest pain, voice change or hoarseness, sore throat, sense of mucus in the throat and cough though the association with these complaints and GERD is not always clear or definitive.  If your symptoms are localized below the diaphragm or chest (breastbone) and include indigestion, nausea, fullness, burning and discomfort, these are classically not thought of as GERD but fall under the heading of another condition called Dyspepsia.

The exact mechanisms that cause GERD are not clear and may be related to anatomic issues (hiatal hernia or defect in the diaphragm that causes the esophagus to slide into the chest) weakness of the valve (lower esophageal sphincter) or inappropriate relaxation of the muscle that allows stomach contents (typically acid) to come up into the esophagus. Obesity, certain medications, lifestyle issues, and diet may contribute to symptoms.

There are several steps you can take to improve your symptoms:

-Lose weight

-Do Not Lie Down for at Least 2 hours after Eating

-Limit Coffee, caffeine

- Avoid foods if they cause symptoms- spicy, fatty, acidic (citrus juices, tomato sauce, chocolate, mints, alcohol)

-Stop Smoking

- Consider raising the head of your bed with blocks especially if you have nighttime symptoms

-Avoid tight clothes that put pressure on the abdomen

-Eat smaller meals

There are many medications to help manage your symptoms. Some are over the counter, others by prescription only-All are designed to lower the amount of stomach acid. The most potent of these medications are the proton pump inhibitors the most well-known being Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid. There has been a lot of news lately about some of the side effects and long-term consequences of the use of these medications. While some of these issues are valid, others may not be so and the benefits of the drugs do outweigh the risks -we recommend having a frank discussion with your doctor prior to stopping any medication.

The preceding information is provided by DDC of NJ and is not a definitive basis for diagnosis and treatment in any individual case.