Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016
Are you having constant bouts of heartburn, feel a little too full or have difficulties swallowing your food? Those of you who answered yes might be experiencing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
GERD Getting You Down?
GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal muscles that control the stomach liquids. This disease causes the valve-like muscles in your esophagus to become weak, which then allows liquids in the stomach to back up into the esophagus.
Today, as much as 20 percent of the United States population has GERD. Factors like hiatal hernias, obesity, pregnancy, taking certain medications and smoke inhalation can increase your risk for developing GERD.
Heartburn, Baby, Burn
Heartburn and indigestion are common symptoms of GERD. Other less common symptoms include:
- Dry, chronic cough
- Difficulty swallowing
Talk to a Digestive Disease Doctor
Most people diagnosed with GERD are diagnosed and treated by a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases. If symptoms don’t improve after making a few lifestyle changes, a GERD diagnosis often requires testing like an Upper GI series and endoscopy.
Treating Your Tummy Troubles
The first step in treatment requires making lifestyle changes like losing weight, working on your posture and wearing loose clothing around the stomach area. If symptoms do not improve after these lifestyle changes, GERD can be treated with medications and in certain cases, surgery.
GER or GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER), also known as acid reflux, is a less chronic form of GERD. Occasional GER is common but people may be able to prevent it by:
- Avoiding foods that contribute to heart burn
- Avoiding overeating
- Maintaining a balanced diet and healthy weight
- Not eating two to three hours before sleep
- Not smoking
Those who experience GER several times a week for several weeks should see their healthcare provider, because they may actually have GERD.
Harbin Clinic cares completely for your digestive health. Be sure to schedule your yearly screening with your primary care provider to help make sure you stay on the track to good digestive health. For more information, call Harbin Clinic Gastroenterology at 706.238.8010 or visit online at harbinclinic.com/topic/digestive-health.