Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Denver, CO
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, often referred to as GERD, is a term we use to describe the result of the common occurrence of acid reflux in an individual. Acid reflux is defined by a singular occurrence or instance of acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus, known as heartburn.
An individual is usually diagnosed as having GERD when acid reflux occurs in mild cases one or fewer times a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux is experienced at a minimum twice a week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease may develop at any age, but it commonly develops around the age of 40. When it is left untreated, people can later progress to a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. If you could be be suffering with gastroesophageal reflux disease, we urge you to see a gastroenterologist at a Colorado Gastroenterology in Denver, CO as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
Whenever one chooses to consume food, it progresses through the esophagus and beyond the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to then enter the stomach. Any time the LES becomes compromised, it can lose strength and fail to stop stomach acid from moving back into the esophagus. Usually, there is not a single cause that increases the chance of this occurring often, but there is greater risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease should you experience any of these criteria:
- Eat spicy foods
- Alcohol consumption
- Lie down often after eating
- Consume raw onion or garlic
- Drink coffee
- Tobacco use
- Being overweight
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper portion of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm)
- Consume large meals late at night
- Being pregnant
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
Learn more about the causes of GERD and how you can manage the condition by scheduling an appointment at Colorado Gastroenterology with our GI doctors today.
What are common symptoms and treatments for GERD?
The major symptoms of GERD are quite like acid reflux but may be felt with greater frequency. These symptoms can include:
- Disrupted sleep
- Chronic cough
- Unintentional weight loss
- Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
- Chest pain
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
Managing gastroesophageal reflux disease may consist of lifestyle modifications, medical intervention, or both. Treatment options to help avoid or reduce GERD in Denver, CO patients include:
- Limit caffeine/coffee intake
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
- Stay awake and stand up after eating
- Tell your GI doctor about any medications you take
- Avoid eating at least two hours before going to bed
- Do not eat foods and beverages likely to cause acid reflux (see the list above)
- Over-the-counter antacids
- Eat slowly and in moderation
- Sleep on an incline
- LINX device (magnetic beads wrapped around the area where the stomach and esophagus meet)
- Avoid smoking
- Fundoplication (surgical procedure performed to wrap the stomach around the LES)
- Lose weight
- Medication to strengthen the LES
We encourage you to schedule an appointment with a GI doctor at Colorado Gastroenterology today if you have any of the listed symptoms frequently or are in pain, or if you use over-the-counter heartburn medication more than twice a week.
How can I tell if I have acid reflux or GERD?
The distinction between the conditions of acid reflux and GERD may seem perplexing. Simply put, GERD is acid reflux that persists several times a week for an extended period of time. If you have heartburn or any other symptoms daily or often throughout the week or experience symptoms that won’t ease with over-the-counter options, you may be dealing with GERD.
Are there any foods I should cut from my diet if I am experiencing GERD?
Foods that escalate the production of acid in the stomach should be avoided if you are diagnosed with GERD. Some examples of these foods are:
- Foods high in sugar
- Coffee, pop, and other caffeinated beverages
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.)
- Red meat
- Salt and pepper
- Spicy foods
- High-fat foods
Our Colorado Gastroenterology GI doctors can provide additional details on the foods to avoid if you are diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Is GERD a life-threatening condition?
Generally, gastroesophageal reflux disease is not considered life-threatening. It could make everyday tasks difficult from time to time, but you can likely find some alleviation of symptoms with proper treatment. If not treated, gastroesophageal reflux disease may lead to more complicated issues. These may involve esophagitis (inflammation of the lining of the esophagus) and Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that damages the esophagus (the structure that links your mouth to your stomach). Obtaining the treatment needed to manage this disease can help preserve your health and wellness.
How long can it take for GERD to improve after treatment begins?
A few factors affect how long it could take to start feeling better when experiencing GERD. These include the type of medicine you are taking, the extent of damage caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease before being diagnosed, and how diligently you avoid foods that worsen symptoms. With proper care, however, you will probably notice GERD symptoms lessening over time. Although you may not be able to eliminate GERD altogether, you can likely find relief from your symptoms.
Find relief from GERD
GERD is a common concern touching the daily lives of many individuals. With appropriate medical treatment, however, the condition can be treated and its uncomfortable symptoms alleviated. If you or someone you know lives with GERD, the physician-led network of gastroenterologists at Colorado Gastroenterology is ready to help. We urge you to reserve a consultation at our practice to receive treatment for GERD in Denver, CO.
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