Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the contents (food or liquid) of the stomach move back into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This backward movement is known as reflux. This reflux happens when the valve (sphincter) between the stomach and food pipe (esophagus), does not close properly. This can cause irritation to esophagus. This condition can affect people of any age. It is one of the most common disorder of the gastrointestinal tract.
Weakened esophageo-gastric sphincter is the usual cause of GERD. The sphincter may be weakened by-
- Frequent vomiting.
- Nasogastric tube fed immobile patients
- Cigarette smoking
- Some medicines like amlodipine, dicyclomine, iron tablets, aspirin, sedatives and beta blockers can also cause weakness in the sphincter.
- Food poisoning.
- Eating heavy meals
- Lying down after a meal
- Eating just prior to exercise
- Esophageal surgery
- Tapering of the esophagus
- Drinking alcohol
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Sleep disorders
Children with conditions like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, scoliosis, cystic fibrosis etc.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Heartburn- It is the main and the initial symptom of GERD. The patient feels a burning sensation in the chest. It often felt after a meal (especially a heavy meal) and tends to get worse at night.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chronic cough
- Sore throat, change in voice
- The patient feels difficulty in swallowing
- Inflammation of the gums
- Bad breath
- The patient feels that food is stuck behind the breastbone.
- X-ray of the upper digestive system
- pH test
- Esophageal impedance test
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