Acid indigestion, heartburn, and frequent regurgitation are symptoms of the serious condition gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Often mistaken as regular acid reflux, GERD is more severe and can have major consequences when untreated.
Over-the-counter treatments can be effective as a quick option, but frequent symptoms are cause to seek professional diagnosis and treatment.
Managing the symptoms of GERD frequently requires lifestyle changes, regular prescription medications to reduce or eliminate acid in the stomach, and short-term use of a motility drug to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter.
Effective lifestyle changes that reduce the production of acid in the stomach include not smoking, avoiding trigger foods, and losing weight to alleviate pressure to the abdominal area. If lifestyle changes along with occasional over-the-counter antacids do not prevent pain and inflammation, it is likely a severe case.
Taking histamine antagonists or proton pump inhibitors regularly will reduce the production of acid. If the esophagus has significant damage, a doctor may prescribe pro-kinetic agents to strengthen the lower sphincter of the esophagus. This treatment rapidly empties the stomach and tightens the valve to prevent acid from entering. Surgery is the most drastic type of treatment for reinforcement and strengthening of the sphincter.
People who do not seek a professional opinion may wrongfully self-diagnose the disease as simple acid reflux. Unfortunately, GERD is a chronic disease that can rarely be controlled without a prescription medication. A doctor is able to diagnose the disease by the description and frequency of symptoms, but an examination of the esophagus could prevent future complications.
Cancer can be prevented in cases that there is an abnormal change in the lining discovered through an endoscopy. Managing the disease prevents severe damage and the formation of painful ulcers in the inflamed esophagus. Ulcers can rupture to cause bleeding, leaving behind scars that narrow the esophageal passageway. Although the need for surgery is not common, it must be considered by a physician to determine the proper treatment.
If you have suffered from acid reflux and feel that it has become more frequent or increasingly painful, it may be the onset of gastroesophageal reflux disease. The pain does not come without complication, as it is damaging to the esophagus and can lead to the formation of cancer.
Mild cases can be treated with over-the-counter options, especially now that the FDA has approved the availability of certain acid blockers. Symptoms that occur frequently compromise the esophageal lining, and irregular exposure to acid can lead to serious complications. Always consult with your doctor for proper diagnosis and administration of the most effective treatment.