GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disorder is a gastric condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) loosens allowing stomach acids to escape upward or reflux into the esophagus. The sensation is described as “heartburn.” It is a very common condition. Pregnant women and patients with hiatal hernias have complaints of GERD quite frequently. Other patients who have difficulty with GERD are those for whom certain foods weakens or relaxes the LES such as caffeine, chocolate, foods high in fat, alcohol and cigarette smoking.
What are the symptoms?
Some patient describe their heartburn as an acidic indigestion that burns its way up the chest into the throat and mouth leaving an acid or bitter taste. Certain advance cases causes them to wake in their sleep with a cough productive of stomach contents and a sore throat. Burning, chest pain or chest pressure can last several hours and is often worse after eating. Lying down or bending over can also result in heartburn for susceptible patients.
Can it be treated?
Many people obtain relief from heartburn by standing upright or by taking an over-the-counter antacid. Serious cases require prescription medication or even surgery to correct a hiatal hernia. Prolonged exposure of stomach acid in the esophagus can lead to dysplastic changes called Barrett’s Esophagus and even to cancer. For this reason, GERD symptoms that are not controlled with conservative treatment approaches must be addressed by a specialist.
How can MCare M.D. help?
If you think you have GERD, let us know us everything during your meeting with your MCare M.D. doctor. We want to know. Be prepared to tell us when, where, how long…everything. Don’t worry. Everything you tell us is completely confidential. If the doctor thinks that you can be treated with prescription medication he or she will send an order to the pharmacy of your choice instantly.