The painful condition of gastroesophageal reflux disease (commonly called GERD) is often confused with less severe problems like acid indigestion or heartburn. GERD goes far beyond a basic case of heartburn, however, and if left untreated it can lead to some serious health problems. Understanding exactly what GERD is and what it does is the first steps to coping with this painful condition.
GERD is a condition where acids and even undigested foods can flow backwards into the esophagus where it can cause not only pain, but may also cause severe esophageal damage. This is usually caused by a weak sphincter muscle, which fails to properly seal off the esophageal opening. Fortunately for those that suffer from this issue there are some great medical and non-medical treatments for GERD. Many of these can start to help a person feel better within the first month.
Some people do not like a daily pill regimen and prefer investigating how to treat GERD without medication. For many sufferers with only mild cases of reflux, the problem can often be solved with some basic lifestyle changes. Smoking, alcohol, losing weight and even the way in which a person sleeps can have a positive effect on GERD. All of these can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax or not close properly leading to a continuation of acid reflux. Common over-the-counter acid reducers can also provide relief.
Extreme cases of GERD may be due to a hiatal hernia and this may require surgery. The important thing is to have any case of persistent heartburn or acid indigestion checked out by a doctor. They will be able to diagnose the problem and severity accurately and dictate if it requires surgery or just some changes in habits. It is crucial to not let this go unchecked. Acids can easily damage the lining of the esophagus leading to increased pain, difficulty swallowing and may even increase the likelihood of further infections. Get checked today because there are new treatments for GERD being intr0duced often.