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Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Diseases (GERD)

  • What is Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

    Gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease. It occurs when the acid from the stomach flows back (reflux) into the oesophagus (food pipe). This reflux irritates, and can sometimes damage, the lining of the oesophagus. It can also reach the vocal cords, or even flow back into the lungs.

  • There is no identified sole cause of GERD. It usually occurs when the muscular valve between the stomach and the oesophagus, known as the lower oesophageal sphincter, is weak or faulty. This allows the stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus.

    There are various risk factors that contribute to the onset of GERD, and these include:

    • Certain diseases (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, scleroderma)
    • Increased production of gastrin, a hormone that controls the release of stomach acid
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Smoking
    • Use of certain medications
  • The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which is a burning sensation of the chest that spreads from the stomach to the throat. Other possible symptoms include:

    • Bitter taste in the mouth (acid regurgitation)
    • Bloated tummy
    • Burping
    • Feeling of a lump in the throat
    • Hoarseness of voice
    • Pain and difficulty swallowing
    • Pain or discomfort in the chest
    • Persistent cough
    • Persistent sore throat
  • There are different treatment options available for GERD, which depend on the severity of the condition. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and suggest the appropriate treatment for you, this may include:

    • Lifestyle changes for the treatment of mild GERD symptoms, and these include:
      1. Avoiding eating late
      2. Avoiding food that causes your acid reflux
      3. Eating smaller meals
      4. Maintaining a healthy weight
      5. Quitting smoking
      6. Raising your bed head
      7. Wearing comfortable clothing to avoid pressure on the stomach
    • Prescription medications for moderate to severe symptoms that do not respond to lifestyle changes
    • Barrett’s oesophagus, which is characterised by long-lasting GERD and increases the risk of oesophageal cancer
    • Swelling of the vocal cords
    • Lung damage including pulmonary fibrosis and bronchiectasis
    • Stricture (blockage) of the oesophagus caused by scar tissues that develop due to repeated ulcerations
    • Ulcers in the oesophagus caused by burning from stomach acid
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