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Gastroesophageal Reflux

The esophagus is a muscular tube that moves swallowed food from your throat to your stomach as part of the process of digestion. At the top, there is a band of muscle called the upper esophageal sphincter and at the bottom, there’s another band of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter. When a person isn’t swallowing, these muscles contract to prevent stomach acid from getting into the esophagus. However, the aging process can cause these muscles to weaken, allowing the acid in. When the acid touched the lining of the esophagus, it becomes irritated and heartburn or acid indigestion may occur. Many people have acid indigestion once and a while, but when it occurs twice or more per week, it is referred to as GERD or gastroesophgeal reflux disease.

GERD can damage the esophagus and lead to more serious health issues, such as esophagitis, esophageal stricture, respiratory problems and Barrett’s esophagus. More than 20% of the population of the U.S. is affected by GERD, including people of all ages. Some risk factors for GERD include: obesity, smoking and pregnancy.

Common Symptoms

  • Burning sensations in the chest, usually after eating and worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Bad breath
  • Cavities
  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Asthma that is new or becoming worse

Treatment Options

One of the most effective ways to treat GERD is to make lifestyle changes, like: losing weight, quitting smoking, decreasing alcohol consumption, eating smaller meals and not eating late at night, decreasing caffeine, not lying down for a couple hours after eating and elevating the head of your bed six to eight inches. Other treatments include:

  • Taking over-the-counter antacids
  • Taking over-the-counter H2 blockers
  • Using proton pump inhibitors
  • Surgery for severe cases
Previous Page Last Review Date: April 20, 2020
Gastroesophageal Reflux Team
Adrian Legaspi, MD, FACS

Adrian Legaspi, MD, FACS

Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016
Amit Vinay Sastry, MD

Amit Vinay Sastry, MD

Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016
Vanitha Vasudevan, MD, FACS

Vanitha Vasudevan, MD, FACS

General Surgery, Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016