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Acid reflux and GERD: All you need to know

Dr Yogesh Harwani converses the various clinical parameters and complications associated with GERD

Published: Apr 28, 2023 06:21:12 PM IST
Updated: May 10, 2023 01:12:03 PM IST

Acid reflux and GERD: All you need to knowAcid reflux is what happens when some of the acid content of the stomach flows up into the esophagus. Heartburn is the burning feeling a person gets when they have acid reflux. Frequent acid reflux may mean a person has GERD.

Millions of people suffer GERD symptoms such as regular acid reflux, heartburn, coughing, wheezing, or hoarseness but don't know it.

GERD is a chronic digestive disease where the acids or contents of the stomach flow back into the food pipe (esophagus), injuring sensitive tissues. Our bodies produce stomach acid to help us digest our food. Stomach acid isn't a concern while it stays in the stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) helps keep stomach acid in the stomach. The LES relaxes to let food and drink in, then tightens to retain it. When the LES relaxes, stomach acid can escape into the esophagus. The stomach has a rigid lining that resists acid, but the food pipe does not. Its sensitive tissues are injured by acid, and other structures can be damaged if the acid makes its way to the mouth.

GERD, when left untreated, can result in severe life-threatening complications. The most common is Esophagitis, inflammation of the food pipe. It produces consistent burning pain that can make swallowing and eating difficult. If left untreated, the inflammation can cause ulcers of the tube's lining, bleeding, or both. Repeated cycles of Esophagitis and healing can lead to scarring and narrowing of the tube, known as Esophageal stricture. Ongoing damage to the esophagus caused by stomach acid can trigger cellular changes to the esophagus lining. It is a condition in which severe inflammation and acid conspire to produce premalignant changes in the cells that line the esophagus. With Barrett's esophagus, the squamous cells that line the lower esophagus are replaced by gland cells. Some 2% to 5% of people with Barrett's esophagus develop cancer.

If you think you could be at risk of GERD, it is best to reach out to a gastroenterologist. It is very important to “Guard against GERD” and get treated!

Issued in Public Interest by Dr.Reddy's Laboratories LTD

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