GERD, often referred to as acid-reflux disease, remains one of the commonest gastrointestinal problems seen by a Gastroenterologist or a Physician in clinical practice. It indicates frequent reflux of gastric acid and contents into the esophagus. GERD manifests with symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain and in some cough and wheeze. GERD may lead to complications like inflammation of esophagus (esophagitis), ulcers, difficulty in swallowing due to scarring of esophagus (stricture) and even esophageal cancer.
GERD occurs due to poor functioning of gastroesophageal junction apparatus comprising of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and crural diaphragm. LES is a band like muscle at the junction of esophagus and stomach that normally relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach and shuts tight to prevent back-flow of stomach contents into the esopahgus. When the LES becomes weak and relaxed, gastric acid and other contents move back into the esophagus. Unlike the stomach, esophageal mucosa is not built to tolerate acid and it easily gets injured to produce symptoms of GERD. Impaired esophageal clearance, delayed gastric emptying and esophageal hypersensitivity may also contribute towards GERD. The treatment of
GERD in many ways is a product of our current lifestyle. Risk factors include obesity, sedentary life, smoking, poor eating habits, anxiety or depression, poor sleep and stress.
There is no gold-standard test to diagnose GERD. If symptoms are frequent or recurring, one must see the physician or gastroenterologist who might suggests some tests like endoscopy, manometry and pHmetry or a trial of antacids (PPI). Treatment of GERD includes long or recurrent courses of antacids (proton-pump inhibitors or PPI), and in few patients endoscopic therapy or surgery.
In view of difficult curative therapy, prevention is better than cure in GERD. Small meals, a two hour interval between eating and lying down, keeping the head-end of the bed elevated by a brick height, abstinence from smoking and alcohol, maintaining an ideal body weight and avoiding food triggers help in mitigating the symptoms of GERD.
GERD causes distress and often leads to serious complications. Understand GERD and Guard against GERD for a better and healthy life. Issued in Public Interest by Dr.Reddy's Laboratories LTDThe pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.