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Loosening or weakening of the muscle fibers comprising the lower esophageal sphincter leads to backwards flow from the stomach into the esophagus called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease(GERD). Persons of all ages that experience discomfort such as heartburn or indigestion more than twice a week may be at risk of GERD and should seek additional diagnosis and potentially treatment.
Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
• Acid Reflux • Nausea and vomiting • Coughing, laryngitis • Respiratory problems - wheezing, asthma, or pneumonia
Causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
• Obesity - consumption of high acid foods like citrus, fatty, fried, garlic, onion, etc • Pregnancy - additional pressure and hormonal changes • Smoking, caffeine, and alcohol
Diagnosing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
• Barium Swallow Radiograph - x-rays to identify abnormalities • Upper endoscopy - using a scope to view the esophagus • pH monitoring - measurement of how much and how frequently acid is found
Treating Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
• Lifestyle - not smoking, avoiding acidic foods, smaller meals, weight loss • Medications - antacids, foaming agents, H2 Blockers, Proton Pump Inhibitors, Prokinetics • Surgery - strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter
GERD is a treatable medical condition that occurs in all age ranges. Otherwise healthy individuals may exhibit symptoms but should seek additional care if the condition is persistent or unresponsive to antacids.
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