Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects an estimated one in five Americans, causing heartburn and other symptoms. There are many different risk factors that contribute to this disease, which can cause long-term health problems. If you have chronic heartburn or other symptoms related to GERD, it is important to seek treatment to protect your health. Here are some of the risk factors, symptoms and possible treatments for GERD.
Risk Factors for GERD
GERD is a disorder that involves the lower esophagus sphincter (LES). This ring of muscle separates the esophagus and stomach, opening to allow food into the stomach and closing to keep digestive juices and food in the stomach. When the LES is weak, it can allow stomach acid and food to backflow into the esophagus. This can cause heartburn and damage to the esophagus lining. Some of the risk factors for GERD include:
- Obesity or overweight
- Certain medications
- Caffeine and alcohol are believed to weaken the LES
- Hiatal hernia
GERD most commonly affects adults, but children can also suffer from this digestive disorder.
Symptoms of GERD
The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn, but it is possible to have GERD without chronic heartburn. Some of the other symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing
- A lump in your throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bad breath
- Erosion of tooth enamel
When acid reflux happens at night, it can cause choking, coughing, sleep problems and laryngitis.
Treatments for GERD
Many people try treating GERD on their own with anti-acids and over-the-counter heartburn or acid reflux products. When these medications are not effective, lifestyle changes and medical treatment may be necessary. Losing weight, avoiding certain foods/beverages, quitting smoking and eating smaller meals can be beneficial. Medical treatments can include prescription medications or surgery.
Dr. Danny Shouhed is a board-certified GI surgeon that can help those suffering from GERD get relief. He offers GERD treatment, bariatric surgery, hiatal hernia repair and other procedures that can help you control your chronic heartburn. To schedule a GERD treatment consultation, contact our office in Los Angeles.
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