Regional Gastrointestinal Consultants

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Overview

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is very common, affecting up to 1 in 5 or more of adult men and women in the U.S. population. It also occurs in children. Although common, the disease often is unrecognized – its symptoms misunderstood. This is unfortunate because GERD is generally a treatable disease, though serious complications can result if it is not treated properly.

Symptoms

GERD is characterized by symptoms, with or without tissue damage, that result from repeated or prolonged exposure of the lining of the esophagus to acidic or non-acidic contents from the stomach. If tissue damage is present, the individual is said to have esophagitis or erosive GERD. The presence of symptoms with no evident tissue damage is referred to as non-erosive GERD.

GERD is often accompanied by symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation of acid. But sometimes there are no apparent symptoms, and the presence of GERD is revealed only when complications become evident.

Heartburn is the most frequent, but not the only, symptom of GERD. (The disease may be present even without apparent symptoms.) Heartburn is not specific to GERD and can result from other disorders that occur inside and outside the esophagus. All too often, GERD is either self-treated or mistreated.

Treatment

GERD is a chronic disease, and treatment usually must be maintained on a long-term basis, even after symptoms have been brought under control. Issues of daily living and compliance with long-term use of medication need to be addressed as well. This can be accomplished through follow-up and education.

GERD is often characterized by painful symptoms that can undermine an individual’s quality of life. Various methods to effectively treat GERD range from lifestyle measures to the use of medication or surgical procedures.

Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, medications, surgery, or a combination of methods. Over-the-counter preparations provide only temporary symptom relief. They do not prevent recurrence of symptoms or allow an injured esophagus to heal. They should not be taken regularly as a substitute for prescription medicines – they may be hiding a more serious condition. If needed regularly, for more than two weeks, consult a physician for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

IMPORTANT HEALTH NOTE

We recommend that people experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms do not attempt self-treatment. With many medications being available over the counter, and numerous do-it-yourself online unqualified remedy recommendation, it is natural to consider treating yourself but we highly recommend against this.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms you may have a more significant issue than you would expect from the sometimes muted or infrequent symptom you may be experiencing. It is important to keep in mind that is you are having gastrointestinal symptoms or concerns it is best see a doctor to have those symptoms diagnosed and any conditions treated. Also, it is worth noting, that if health conditions do exist, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the greater the probability will be to successfully eliminate or manage a present condition, in fact successful outcomes will increase significantly with early detection.

If you have gastrointestinal concerns or are experiencing any gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact us promptly to schedule a consultation with a physician.


DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way, does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class physician regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today at (215) 321-4700 to schedule a consultation.