Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Hattiesburg, MS
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also referred to as GERD, is the label used to describe the long-term impact of the common presentation of acid reflux on a person's bodily health. Acid reflux is defined by a singular episode or experience of acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus, also known as heartburn.
An individual is often diagnosed as having GERD when acid reflux happens in mild cases at least once a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux occurs at minimum twice a week. GERD is known to occur at any time in life, but it often develops close to 40 years of age. If left neglected, there is a chance for GERD to eventually progress into a condition referred to as Barrett's esophagus. If you believe that you are suffering from GERD in Hattiesburg, MS, we strongly recommend that you visit a gastrointestinal physician at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
Anytime we consume food, that food moves through the esophagus and beyond the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the stomach. When the LES becomes compromised, it can weaken, allowing stomach acid to move back into the esophagus. Frequent bouts of acid reflux usually cannot be pinned on any single cause, but you may be at greater odds of suffering from or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease should you experience any of the following criteria:
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
- Being pregnant
- Coffee consumption
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper part of the stomach extends through the diaphragm)
- Alcohol use
- Tobacco use
- Lying down often after eating
- Consuming raw onion or garlic
- Eating spicy foods
- Consuming large meals late at night
What are common symptoms of GERD?
The primary signs of GERD are quite like acid reflux but may be experienced more often. Those symptoms can include:
- Chest pain
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquids
- Disrupted sleep
- Chronic cough
- Unintentional weight loss
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
We urge you to request a consultation with a GI doctor at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC as soon as possible if you notice any of the listed symptoms regularly or are in pain, or if you self-medicate with OTC heartburn medication more often than twice within a week.
How is GERD treated?
Treating GERD may include lifestyle changes, medical care, or both. Treatments to avoid or alleviate GERD in Hattiesburg, MS patients may include:
- Avoiding eating at least two hours before bedtime
- Losing excess weight
- Eating in moderation and slowly
- Remaining awake and stand up after eating
- Installing a LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the area where the stomach and esophagus meet)
- Telling your GI specialist about current medications you are taking
- Sleeping on an incline
- Medication to strengthen the LES
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
- Minimizing coffee/caffeine consumption
- Over-the-counter antacids
- Fundoplication (surgery wrapping the stomach around the LES)
- Avoiding foods and drinks likely to cause acid reflux (including those listed above)
- Avoiding smoking
What is the difference between acid reflux and GERD?
The distinction between the conditions of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease may seem perplexing. But GERD is simply acid reflux that occurs several times a week for a prolonged duration of time. In the event you experience heartburn or additional symptoms daily or more than once throughout the week, or your symptoms aren't relieved with over-the-counter methods, it could be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease.
What foods should I avoid if I am experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease?
Foods that increase the accumulation of acid in the stomach should likely be removed from your diet if you are diagnosed with GERD. Some examples of these include:
- Spicy foods
- Foods containing salt and pepper
- Foods high in fat
- Citrus fruits
- Foods high in sugar
- Red meat
Our Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC team can provide further details on food items to avoid if you experience gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Can GERD be life-threatening?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is not considered life-threatening. While it could make daily tasks a bit more unpleasant at times, you should be able to find some relief with a good treatment method. If left untreated, GERD might lead to more complicated digestive conditions. These can include esophagitis (irritation of the lining of the esophagus) and Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that may damage the esophagus (the tube that links the mouth and stomach). Receiving the care needed for GERD can help protect your general health and wellness.
How long will it take for GERD to improve after starting treatment?
Several factors can impact how long it could take to experience relief from gastroesophageal reflux disease. These can involve the type of medication you are taking, what sort of damage has been brought on by GERD before being diagnosed, and whether you avoid foods that tend to aggravate your symptoms. However, with the proper care, your symptoms should lessen over time. Even though you may not be able to resolve GERD completely, treatment can help you manage its effects successfully.
Find relief from GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a very common struggle affecting the daily lives of many people. With professional medical treatment, however, the condition can be handled and its unpleasant symptoms relieved. If you or a loved one struggles with GERD, the gastroenterology specialists at Hattiesburg GI Associates, PLLC are available to help. Please request a consultation at our office to find treatment for GERD in Hattiesburg, MS.
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