GERD: Causes, Symptoms, Precautions, Treatment

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GERD(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

What is GERD?

It is a disease when the stomach acid flows back into the food pipe(Esophagus). This stomach acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and may cause conditions like esophagitis, esophageal carcinoma(Esophageal cancer), esophageal ulcer, and dysphagia.

The stomach acid usually flows back into the food pipe due to the abnormality of LES(Lower Esophageal Sphincter), which is present at the end of the esophagus.

LES(Lower Esophageal Sphincter): It is a Bundle of muscle that is located at the lower end of the esophagus.

When you swallow food, the LES(Lower Esophageal Sphincter) relaxes and allows the food to enter into the stomach, and then it gets automatically closed so that stomach acid would not enter into the esophagus. But when LES(Lower Esophageal Sphincter) gets abnormal, It relaxes and the stomach acid can rise and easily flows back into the esophagus.

Now you might be thinking that if stomach acid is that much harmful, so why it does not harm the stomach itself. It is just because the stomach has its own defensive factor called Gastric Mucosa that protects the lining of the stomach from the stomach acid(Hydrochloric acid). While the esophagus does not have that protective Gastric Mucosa on its lining.

Causes of GERD

GERD(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) can be caused by:

Bad Eating Habits

Bad eating habits can be a cause of developing GERD. Bad eating habits include overeating, eating spicy foods, and lying down after eating.

Obesity

Obesity can also be a factor to cause GERD. Being obese can increase the pressure on the abdomen and may cause GERD.

Pregnancy

The relation between GERD and pregnancy is also the increased pressure on the abdomen.

Smoking

When you smoke, It may cause the LES to relax and can allow the stomach acid to rise and flows back into the esophagus.

Hiatal Hernia

It is a condition when a part of the stomach moves upward through the diaphragm. In this condition, it is easy to flow stomach contents into the esophagus.

Hiatal Hernia weakens the LES and is generally diagnosed by Endoscopy. The preferable treatment of the Hiatal hernia is surgery.

Medications

Medications like NSAID(Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs), Tricyclic Antidepressants, Calcium Channel Blockers, Benzodiazepines, and Asthma medicines can also cause GERD.

Symptoms

The most common symptom associated with GERD is Heartburn( a burning sensation in the chest)

It may cause some other symptoms like:

  • Chest Pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing(Dysphagia)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleep Problem
  • Laryngitis

Treatments

In most of the case, GERD is treated with medications like:

  • Antacids
  • H2 Blockers
  • PPIs(Proton Pump Inhibitors)

Antacids

The doctor may prescribe you antacids like sodium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate, and magaldrate. Antacids usually work by neutralizing the stomach acid by raising their PH. Thus it makes your stomach acid less acidic so that it would not harm the lining of the esophagus. Antacids show a rapid effect and give instant relief from heartburn and acidity.

H2 Blockers

The doctor may prescribe H2 Blockers such as ranitidine, cimetidine, and famotidine to treat GERD. H2 Blockers usually work by reducing the formation of stomach acid and helps in relief from heartburn and other symptoms of GERD.

PPIs(Proton Pump Inhibitors)

PPIs like omeprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole also work by Reducing/Blocking the formation of stomach acid. This results in decreases in the amount of stomach acid and it does not rise enough to flow back into the esophagus.

In severe cases, surgery can also be done to treat GERD. Surgery is most commonly done in the case of Hiatal Hernia.

Precautions

Try to lose weight, if you are an obese person.

Do not smoke, as it may cause your LES to relax.

Do not consume alcohol. as it may cause an increase in stomach acid.

Try to eat smaller meals.

Do not lying after eating.

Summary

GERD(Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) is a condition when the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and irritates the lining of the esophagus.

The main causes of GERD are bad eating habits, hiatal hernia, being overweight, and smoking.

It may be treated with medications like Antacids, PPIs(Proton Pump Inhibitors), and H2 Blockers.

In severe cases, surgery can also be done to treat GERD.

Disclaimer: The information contained in pharmbaba.com is presented for the purpose of educating consumers. Nothing contained in pharmbaba.com is intended to be instructional for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information should not be considered complete, nor should it be relied on to suggest a course of treatment for a particular individual. Information obtained in pharmbaba.com is not exhaustive and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment.

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Sahil Nasa (B. Pharma)
Sahil is the founder of PharmBaba.com. He likes to read books and write blogs.