Identify the Signs and Symptoms of GERD in Adults and Children
An estimated 60 million individuals in the U.S. encounter the fiery, burning sensation that is referenced as "heartburn" at least once a month. Though many do not imagine them when picturing typical heartburn sufferers but teens, young children, and babies are among those included in that statistic.
In about 20% of the population, heartburn points to a more alarming problem known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), an ailment that can significantly affect the health and wellness of people who live with it. Should you suffer from recurring or intense symptoms of acid reflux, get in touch with Colorado Gastroenterology to locate a GI specialist who provides GERD treatment in Denver, CO.
What factors cause GERD to occur?
At the bottom of your esophagus (where it meets the stomach) is a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When you swallow food or liquids, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to enable the contents to flow into the stomach before tightening again to keep stomach acid from regurgitating backward. When this muscle fails to work properly, the acid can move up into the esophagus, producing a fiery sensation (heartburn) and possibly an acidic taste in your mouth.
GERD is a disease that could arise in patients who commonly experience acid reflux. As time goes on, persistent exposure to stomach acid can lead to long-term damage to the lining of the esophagus. This may lead to substantial discomfort and an increased risk for additional troubles with the esophagus.
Though GERD is not typically a product of any one trigger, there are an array of things that might give rise to ongoing acid reflux in children and adults, such as:
- Smoking (or exposure to secondhand smoke)
- Eating large meals
- Eating spicy or high-acidity foods
- Lying flat after eating
Younger individuals (particularly infants) may also be more likely to develop acid reflux for the mere fact that their digestive muscles have not completely developed.
What are the signs and symptoms of GERD in adults and children?
In general, gastroesophageal reflux disease presents with several of the same symptoms as acid reflux; however, they may be experienced more frequently (at least twice per week and be moderate to severe in intensity). Others occur as time goes on due to ongoing acid reflux. Some of the most common symptoms of GERD in adults include:
- Regurgitation of sour liquid or food
- Hoarse voice or sore, raw throat
- The sensation of food stuck or a lump in the throat
- Frequent burning sensation in the chest (heartburn)
- Chest pain
- Bad breath
- Dry cough
- Difficulty swallowing
Along with the points mentioned above, indications of GERD in children can involve:
- Breathing issues, such as wheezing and/or coughing
- Trouble gaining weight
- Recurring instances of vomiting or nausea (after infancy)
- Refusing to eat (in infants)
It is essential to seek treatment for GERD in children before it causes an issue that affects their health and development. If you or your child notice symptoms that might stem from chronic acid reflux, request a visit with a Colorado Gastroenterology gastroenterologist without delay to explore your options for GERD treatment.
How is GERD found and treated?
Our Denver, CO gastroenterology specialists may investigate your symptoms and check your esophagus for markers of GERD with the help of an endoscope or a pH probe. If you are diagnosed with GERD, our team might advise certain lifestyle modifications, which might include avoiding certain foods known to lead to acid reflux, losing weight, sitting upright or standing after eating, or avoiding smoking.
Your digestive health provider might additionally recommend medications to reduce acid production or strengthen the LES to hinder stomach acid from pushing up into the esophagus. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be required to repair the esophageal junction with the stomach. Treatment options for GERD in children or adults might differ according to individual needs, so it's imperative to consult a GI provider to ensure you receive the proper care for your personal needs.
Expert care for GERD in children and adults
Acid reflux signs and symptoms are common, but they could be the beginning of larger health problems in the absence of treatment. The skilled gastroenterologists at Colorado Gastroenterology provide a range of methods to treat GERD in adults and children. To learn more about the causes of GERD or to find GERD treatment in Denver, CO, please request a consultation at one of our locations in your community.