Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Little Rock, AR
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, sometimes referred to as GERD, is the term that describes the common occurrence of acid reflux. Acid reflux is defined by an individual occurrence or experience of acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus (heartburn).
An individual is usually diagnosed as having mild GERD when acid reflux happens one or fewer times a week. Otherwise, it is moderate to severe when it happens at least twice a week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can present at any time in life, but it typically happens around 40 years of age. When ignored, it may later progress to a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. If you are suffering from GERD, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GastroArkansas in Little Rock, AR as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
When we consume food, it migrates through the esophagus and past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to then enter the stomach. Anytime the LES becomes compromised, it can weaken. When it weakens, it can allow stomach acid to move back up into the esophagus. Usually, there is no specific cause for GERD. However, one is at greater risk of suffering from or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease if they meet any of the criteria listed below:
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
- Eat spicy foods
- Eat large meals late at night
- Use of tobacco
- Being overweight
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper part of the stomach extends into the diaphragm)
- Lie down often after eating
- Drink coffee
- Alcohol consumption
- Eat raw onion or garlic
What are the major symptoms of GERD?
The primary signs of GERD are quite like acid reflux but may be felt more often. These symptoms include:
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
- Poor-quality sleep
- Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
- Unintentional weight loss
- Chest pain
- Persistent cough
We urge you to make a meeting with a GI specialist at GastroArkansas as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms regularly, are in pain, or if you use over-the-counter heartburn medication more often than twice within a week.
What are the available treatments for GERD?
Treating gastroesophageal reflux disease may include lifestyle modifications, medical intervention, or both. Treatment options to help avoid or relieve GERD in Little Rock, AR patients include:
- Limit coffee/caffeine intake
- Avoid tobacco use
- LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction where the esophagus and stomach meet)
- Non-prescription antacids
- Sleep on an incline
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
- Remain awake and stand up after eating
- Tell your gastroenterologist about the current medications you take
- Avoid foods and beverages prone to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
- Lose excess weight
- Fundoplication (surgery wrapping the stomach around the LES)
- Avoid eating a minimum of two hours before bedtime
- Medication to strengthen the LES
- Eat in moderation and slowly
What is the difference between GERD and acid reflux?
The distinction between gastroesophageal reflux disease and acid reflux is sometimes perplexing. But GERD is essentially acid reflux that persists several times a week for an extended duration of time. If you notice heartburn or other symptoms every day or often within the week, or you experience symptoms that will not diminish with over-the-counter options, you may be dealing with GERD.
What types of food should I avoid if I have GERD?
Foods that increase the development of acid in the stomach should be avoided if you are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease. A few examples are:
- Oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits
- Beverages high in caffeine
- Spicy foods
- High-fat foods
- Salty or peppery foods
- Foods high in sugar
- Red meat
Our GastroArkansas team can give you more details on foods and beverages to avoid when you have gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Will GERD shorten your lifespan?
GERD is not likely to be life-threatening. It might make daily tasks more challenging from time to time, but you should be able to find some reprieve with a good treatment method. If left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease may lead to more complicated GI issues. Such concerns include esophagitis (irritation of the esophageal lining) and Barrett’s esophagus, a disease that may damage the esophagus (the structure that connects your mouth and stomach). Obtaining the care required for GERD can help protect your GI health and wellness.
How long does it take for GERD to improve after treatment begins?
Several factors can impact how long it might take to experience relief from GERD. These include the kind of medication you are taking, the damage that has occurred from GERD, and if you avoid foods and beverages that increase symptoms. With the proper treatment, however, the GERD symptoms will likely decrease over time. Although you might not be able to resolve GERD entirely, you should be able to manage its effects.
Find relief from GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is an extremely common struggle touching the lives of numerous patients. With professional medical treatment, however, it can be treated and its distressing symptoms can be minimized. If you or someone you love suffers from GERD, the board-certified team of gastroenterologists at GastroArkansas is available to help. We encourage you to book an appointment at our office to find treatment for GERD in Little Rock, AR.
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Dr. Kakati is very professional and easy to ask questions. He answers your questions so you understand and puts your mind at ease.
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