What is GERD?
GERD (Gastro esophageal Reflux disease) is a chronic disorder of the digestive system wherein the stomach acid flows back (refluxes) from the stomach into the esophagus (food pipe). This occurs due to the weakening or abnormal frequent relaxation of the Lower esophageal sphincter. Some people suffer from GERD due to a condition called Hiatus Hernia. A Hiatus Hernia allows a portion of the stomach to protrude into the chest through the diaphragm which can lead to the failure of the lower esophageal sphincter.
What are the symptoms?
Indigestion, heartburn (painful burning in the upper chest or abdomen), regurgitation of food in mouth on lying down, difficulty in sleeping after eating are typical symptoms of GERD. The patient may also observe hoarseness of voice, recurrent sore throat, chest complications due to acid entering the lungs and difficulty in swallowing.
Is treatment necessary?
Untreated GERD can cause ulcers, bleeding, narrowing of the esophageal lumen that can cause difficulty in swallowing. GERD, if left untreated, may lead to Barrett's esophagus.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by the tissue which is similar to the tissue lining the intestine. It increases the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is a serious, potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus.
GERD diagnosis is usually made with typical symptoms. The doctor may recommend other tests if needed which maybe upper Gastrointestinal endoscopy, barium swallow, 24 hour ph monitoring, manometry.