Gastroesophageal reflux disease shortly known as GERD is the same with gastric reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease or simply reflux. All these terms means one thing—a chronic symptom of mucosal damage due to the elevation of stomach acid from stomach to the esophagus.
The major cause of GERD is the changes in the barrier between the esophagus and stomach like hiatal hernia, damaged exclusion of gastric reflux from the esophagus and abnormal relaxation of the inferior esophageal sphincter, which is responsible in holding the peak of the stomach closed. Such changes can be either temporary or permanent.
GERD has different symptoms for kids and adults. Symptoms for children will primarily be discussed.
Children with GERD.
- It can be difficult to detect GERD in children and infants since they cannot exactly describe what they’re feeling. GERD in children can cause constant vomiting, coughing, unforced spitting up and wheezing. Crying for food, bad breath, burping or belching, improper weight, refusing food, inconsolable crying, and pulling of the breast or bottle just to cry for it again are also common symptoms. There is no single symptom that is universal to children suffering from GERD. Commonly, children experiences one or more of the mentioned symptoms.
In most cases, children will just outgrow their GERD after their 1st birthday. Nonetheless, a minute but considerable number of them will not overgrow GERD. This is most especially true when the family has a history of GERD.
GERD in Adults.
- The most typical symptoms of GERD in adults include regurgitation and heartburn. Uncommon symptoms include sore throat/pain in swallowing, coughing, chest pain, nausea, and increased salivation (also called as water brash).
Other people have defined other symptoms of GERD which include idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, persistent ear infections and sinusitis.
GERD can sometimes cause injuries to the esophagus such as:
- This pertains to the persistent tightening of the esophagus due to reflux-induced inflammation.
- This is the necrosis of the esophageal epithelium which cause ulcers near the junction of the esophagus and stomach
- This is a strange form of cancer
- This is a form of intestinal metaplasia which is a precursor state for esophageal cancer. Since chronic heartburn is discovered to increase the risk of getting Barret’s esophagus, people that are prone to chronic heartburn or are taking drugs for GERD are advised to undergo EGD every 5 years.
The mildness or severity of the condition may be evaluated or diagnosed by a doctor through several tests and procedures. This way, he can determine the right medicine to be prescribed to the patient. Typically though, treatment of GERD is simple. GERD can be treated through proper diet and through observing a healthy lifestyle. Medications like antacids (with or without alginic acid), H2 receptor blockers, pro-motility drugs or proton pump inhibitors can also be prescribed. But for those patients with unimproved condition from such treatments, they may undergo surgery.