What Is GERD?

Female doctor with clipboard talks to an adult

Usually, the muscle at the end of the esophagus closes to prevent the contents of the stomach from flowing backward up the esophagus. When this fails to occur and the stomach contents do reflux, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you experience persistent symptoms of GERD, it may be wise to schedule an appointment at your community hospital . The physician at your community hospital can recommend diagnostic tests and develop a treatment plan.

Symptoms

The symptoms of GERD frequently arise after consuming a large meal or lying down after eating. You may experience these symptoms for only a few minutes or they may last for a few hours. They typically include heartburn, r egurgitation of the stomach contents , and a sour taste in the mouth. Persistent or chronic indigestion is another possible symptom and it may be indicated by upper abdominal pain after eating, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and burping.

Risk Factors

Certain issues may increase your risk of developing GERD. These can include smoking, being obese, exercising immediately after a meal, and lying down after a meal. Some medical conditions may also increase your risk, including diabetes, hiatal hernia, scleroderma, and pregnancy. The use of certain medications is another risk factor. These medications include bisphosphonates, anticholinergics, calcium channel blockers, nitrates, sildenafil, and asthma medications. Many people find that certain foods or beverages trigger GERD symptoms, such as alcohol, caffeinated products, fried foods, and spicy foods.

Treatments

If the tests you undergo at your community hospital reveal that you do have GERD, your doctor may recommend a multifaceted approach to treatment. You may be advised to take medications such as those that reduce or neutralize stomach acid. Lifestyle changes can help you manage GERD symptoms. For example, your doctor may advise you to quit smoking, lose weight, and avoid lying down immediately after eating. In some cases, surgery may be recommended.

West Hills Hospital is dedicated to improving patient education with informational seminars about GERD and other medical conditions. Our community hospital has provided residents of the West Hills area with exceptional healthcare for more than 50 years. For general information about our healthcare services, including emergency care, cancer care, and maternity services, you can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4000.

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