Millions of people experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) on a regular basis.
When food passes from the esophagus down into the stomach, a ring known as the lower esophageal sphincter opens up to let food in and then closes to keep it in the stomach.
If the ring is weak and does not close tightly, food and stomach acid can come back up into the esophagus, resulting in mucosal changes and symptoms of heartburn.
Here are five facts about GERD you may not know:
1. Diagnosis is often made by symptoms however an endoscopy may also be performed. During an endoscopy, a tube with a camera on the end is passed through the mouth and down the throat in order to best view all the tissue down into the stomach. If warranted, a biopsy may need to be done
2. Extra weight around the middle is considered a real risk factor for those with both GERD and heartburn. A primary treatment is weight loss as it may help avoid taking acid blockers.
3. Eosinophilic esophagitis is being seen more regularly in patients who have GERD. A biopsy of the esophagus will help determine if someone has this disease.
Eosinophilic esophagitis involves an increased number of particular white blood cells known as eosinophils that cause a number of chronic symptoms. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, sensation or actual choking, coughing, regurgitation, chest pain particularly behind the breast bone and vomiting.
4. Consider the possibility of eliminating foods that may cause allergy from the diet. In eosinophilic esophagitis, the most common food allergies are dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, fish/shellfish.
These foods are also the most common food allergies to humans therefore if someone eats a food that causes inflammation, GERD may occur.
These are the foods that people are most commonly allergic to, therefore if someone eats a food that causes inflammation, GERD may occur.
5. Most that have GERD symptoms are on some form of acid blocker, either as needed or daily. In fact, some take them twice a day because their symptoms are so severe.