GERD: Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment


GERD meaning

Symptoms of GERD

  1. Heartburn: A burning sensation in the chest, often after eating, which may worsen when lying down or bending over.
  2. Regurgitation: The feeling of stomach contents coming back up into the throat or mouth.
  3. Acid indigestion: Discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen.
  4. Chest pain: Sometimes, GERD can cause chest pain, which can be similar to the pain of a heart attack.
  5. Difficulty swallowing: Over time, GERD can lead to narrowing of the esophagus, making it harder to swallow.
  6. Chronic cough: GERD can irritate the airways and lead to a persistent cough.
  7. Sore throat: The refluxed stomach acid can irritate the throat, leading to a sore throat or hoarseness.
  8. Dental problems: Stomach acid can erode tooth enamel, leading to dental issues.

Diagnosis of GERD

If you suspect you have GERD, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider. Diagnosis typically involves a combination of:

  1. Medical History: Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history.
  2. Physical Examination: A physical examination may help rule out other potential causes of your symptoms.
  3. Endoscopy: EGD involves using a thin, flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) to examine the esophagus, stomach, and the upper part of the small intestine.
  4. pH Monitoring: 24-hour pH monitoring measures the acidity in your esophagus over a day to determine the frequency and severity of acid reflux.
  5. Barium Swallow X-ray: You may be asked to drink a barium solution, which will make the esophagus and stomach visible on X-rays.

Treatment of GERD

The treatment of GERD aims to relieve symptoms, heal esophageal damage, and prevent further complications. The approach may include:

  1. Lifestyle Changes:
    • Elevating the head of the bed to prevent nighttime reflux.
    • Avoiding trigger foods and drinks (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, citrus, spicy foods).
    • Eating smaller, more frequent meals.
    • Losing weight if overweight.
    • Not lying down within 2-3 hours after eating.
  2. Medications:
    • Antacids: These provide temporary relief by neutralizing stomach acid.
    • H2 Receptor Blockers (e.g., ranitidine, famotidine): Reduce stomach acid production.
    • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs, e.g., omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole): Stronger acid suppressors that can promote healing of the esophagus.
  3. Surgery:
    • In cases where medications and lifestyle changes don’t provide sufficient relief, surgical options may be considered. Fundoplication is a common surgical procedure for GERD.

Also read:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): All you need to know!

Chronic Cough and Acid Reflux: Diagnosis and Treatment

Last update: 2 May 2024, 00:02


Gastroenterologist - Hepatologist, Thessaloniki

PhD at Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

PGDip at Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands

Ex President, Hellenic H. pylori & Microbiota Study Group