Digestive Disease Specialists
Gastroenterology Practice located in Moline, IL & Bettendorf, IA
If you have heartburn more than twice a week or severe symptoms that persist despite your best home remedies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be causing significant harm to your digestive tract. The specialty team at Digestive Disease Specialists, with offices in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, can uncover the cause of your acid reflux. They also design customized treatment strategies that help prevent the long-term health consequences of untreated or poorly managed GERD. Schedule an evaluation today by calling the nearest office or requesting an appointment online.
What is GERD?
Often mistakenly described as heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes stomach acids and bile to frequently flow upward into the long, muscular tube (esophagus) that carries the foods and beverages you consume from your mouth to your stomach.
Heartburn is not a disease. It is, however, one of the classic symptoms of GERD and occurs when your stomach contents irritate and inflame the sensitive tissues lining your esophagus.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- Chest pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid into your esophagus and throat
- Feeling as if you have a lump in your throat
- Chronic cough, that’s often worse at night or when you lay flat
- Hoarse voice and a scratchy irritated throat
GERD is most common in middle-aged to older adults but can occur at any age and affects about 20% of people in the United States.
What causes GERD?
Normally, a ring of muscles at the bottom of your esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes and opens when you swallow. The sphincter then closes tightly to prevent food, liquids, and stomach acids from backflowing into your esophagus.
Changes to the sphincter can prevent it from tightening between swallows and lead to the backwash of gastric (stomach) contents that cause GERD symptoms.
Issues that can trigger GERD symptoms or increase your risk of developing the disorder include:
- Excess weight
- Scleroderma and other disorders that damage muscle tissue
- Large meals
- Fatty or fried foods
- Conditions such as diabetes that cause delayed stomach emptying (gastroparesis)
- Excessive alcohol or caffeine intake
A hiatal hernia, which allows the upper stomach to bulge into the diaphragm and esophageal space can also cause GERD.
How do you treat GERD?
GERD treatment aims to relieve your symptoms and protect you from the health complications related to the disease.
Complications related to poorly managed GERD include esophageal ulcers, narrowing of the esophagus (esophageal stricture) that can make swallowing difficult, and increased risk of esophageal cancer.
Your personalized treatment plan may include:
- Weight loss
- Changes in dietary habits, including eating smaller meals more frequently
- Avoidance of spicy or fatty foods that trigger your symptoms
- Sleeping with the head of your bed slightly elevated
- Prescription medications to reduce or block the production of certain stomach acids
If conservative treatments fail to control GERD, your provider at Digestive Disease Specialists may recommend minimally invasive surgery to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.
Don’t ignore frequent or severe heartburn. Schedule an evaluation at Digestive Disease Specialists today by calling the nearest office or booking your visit online.
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