Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
You’ve been diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), now what do you do? Boston Medical Center is the best place to start as our wide-range of advanced therapies, state-of-the-art technology, and cutting-edge surgical expertise distinguish us as a leader in treating GERD.
A chronic disease of the digestive system in which acid that is normally made in the stomach flows from your stomach into your esophagus, GERD can be painful and damaging to the lining of your esophagus. Specifically, when you swallow, your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes to allow food and liquid to pass through into your stomach. Then it closes. When you have an abnormal or weak LES, stomach acid flows back into your esophagus.
At BMC, patients with any disease or disorder of the esophagus receive fast access to collaborative, expert care from physicians uniquely focused on each individual patient’s unique needs. Expert thoracic surgeons work in partnership with gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, and oncologists to care for you and provide many treatment options to ensure the best outcome for you.
Causing life-long problems and affecting your quality of life, symptoms of GERD include:
• Difficulty swallowing
• Tooth decay
• Dry cough
• Bitter or sour taste in the mouth
• Feeling that food is still in the throat after swallowing
• Hoarseness or sore throat
• Chest pain
• Burping up food or liquid (acid reflux)
• Shortness of breath
GERD can lead to potentially serious complications such as esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus), esophageal ulcer (eroding tissue in the esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus (pre-cancerous changes), esophageal cancer, and pneumonia or chest infections from stomach contents entering the lungs. Conditions that can increase your risk for GERD include:
• Part of the stomach rising into the chest above the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
• Delayed stomach emptying
• Connective tissue disorders
By maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding foods or drinks that trigger heartburn, eating smaller meals, stopping smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and altering sleep patterns, you can help reduce the symptoms.
Treatment of GERD begins with over-the-counter medications that reduce acid production in the stomach, but if you don’t experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength medication to control acid. If these treatment options fail, minimally invasive surgical procedures are available to reinforce or strengthen the esophagus muscle so it works properly.
To schedule an appointment call (617) 638-6525 or (617) 638-5600.