GERD is the back up of acid and stomach contents into the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. GERD usually causes a feeling of burning, warmth, heat, or pain that often starts in the upper part of your belly, just below your breastbone (sternum). This feeling (called heartburn) may spread in waves upward into your throat, and you may have a sour taste in your mouth.
Heartburn is sometimes called indigestion, acid regurgitation, sour stomach, or pyrosis. Symptoms can include burning chest pain, food back up in your throat (regurgitation), trouble swallowing, feeling as if you have a lump in your throat, and a sour taste in your mouth. Other symptoms may be a dry cough or bad breath.
GERD happens because of a problem with the ring of muscle at the end of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It acts like a one-way valve between the esophagus and the stomach. When you swallow, the valve lets food pass into the stomach. With GERD, the valve doesn't close tightly enough. Stomach acid and juices flow back up (reflux) into the esophagus.
Frequent acid reflux can lead to irritation of the esophagus (esophagitis), narrowing of the esophagus (stricture), or development of sores (ulcers) in the esophagus. Long-term exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid causes the cells that line the inside of the esophagus to be replaced by cells like those that line the inside of the stomach (Barrett's esophagus). This change in cells has been associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
GERD usually happens when the valve relaxes at the wrong time and stays open too long. Some things may relax the valve so it doesn't close tightly or some foods and drinks can make GERD worse. These may include chocolate, mint, alcohol, pepper, spicy foods, high-fat foods, or drinks with caffeine in them, such as tea, coffee, colas, or energy drinks. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating it to see if your symptoms get better.
Other things can make stomach juices back up, such as:
Surgery may be used to treat GERD symptoms that haven't been controlled well by medicines. The following are the ways in which GERD is managed surgically.
The most common surgery used to treat GERD is fundoplication. It strengthens the valve (lower esophageal sphincter) between the esophagus and stomach. This helps keep acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily. It relieves GERD symptoms and inflammation of the esophagus.
It may be done in one of two ways.
For patients who struggle with obesity and GERD, the gastric bypass may be the solution. The gastric bypass is a bariatric procedure that will treat both obesity and GERD, as well as treat or help prevent other diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea and more. If you are interested in this surgery, please visit our site to sign up for a seminar.
A hiatal hernia occurs when a small portion of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm, a sheetlike muscle that separates the lungs from the abdomen. Usually this doesn't cause any symptoms, but it increases the risk of stomach acid backing up into the esophagus (reflux), which can lead to heartburn.
Normally the entire stomach sits below the diaphragm. The esophagus passes through an opening in the diaphragm called the hiatus before it enters the stomach. Weakened tissues within and around the hiatus allow a hiatal hernia to develop.
A hiatal hernia that is not causing symptoms does not usually need any treatment. Treatment for a hiatal hernia that causes heartburn is the same as for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This may include home treatment with lifestyle changes; nonprescription antacids, acid reducers, or acid blockers; prescription medicines; or, in some cases, surgery.
To request an appointment, call 302-320-4175 or complete the form below.