What Are GERD, Acid Reflux, and Heartburn? 

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It is a disorder in the digestive system affecting the ring of muscle and tissue, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), that exists where your esophagus meets your stomach. GERD causes heartburn and acid indigestion, or acid reflux. Severe GERD quickly disrupts your quality of life.

The LES is supposed to close the entrance to your stomach after food moves through it. The LES of someone with GERD either doesn't completely close or opens when it isn't supposed to. This allows stomach acid and other stomach contents to travel up through your esophagus, damaging precious and sensitive tissue and muscle while causing heartburn and acid reflux problems, along with gastrointestinal discomfort and other digestive conditions

Acid reflux refers to the occurrence of acid rising into the esophagus. A hiatal hernia occasionally causes this. However, it can occur when the upper part of your stomach, along with the LES, moves upwards above your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is much like the LES in that it separates the stomach from your chest area. When these two muscles fail or misbehave, heartburn occurs.

Heartburn is the feeling that you get when your esophageal tube is damaged by stomach acid from GERD. It is a literal burning sensation in your chest that causes real damage to your esophagus, throat, and even your mouth. 

Healing your digestive tract is essential to the health of your entire body and identifying and treating the symptoms of GERD is the only way to do it.

Symptoms of GERD, Acid Reflux, and Heartburn

There are many symptoms of GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn that one should be aware of. When they occur a few days a week, or more, you have GERD. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Bad breath
  • Breathing problems
  • Sore throat with a hard time swallowing
  • Loss of tooth enamel or increase in tooth damage
  • Sleeping and eating problems

Often, someone with GERD has difficulty eating and drinking due to digestive discomfort, pain, and stomach upset. Sometimes, GERD can be caused by the actions we take and how we live our life, as well as natural problems, such as a hernia.

ymptoms of GERD, Acid Reflux, and Heartburn | Idaho Digestive Health Institute

Risk Factors for GERD, Acid Reflux, and Heartburn

Pregnancy is a significant cause for GERD and, unfortunately, may not go away after birth. A high BMI and obesity are also predictive factors. Connective tissue diseases, such as lupus or some forms of autoimmune-related arthritis, will list GERD as a symptom. But there are other risk factors to watch out for.

  • Eating right before bed or lying down
  • Large meals
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Certain foods and medications
  • Gastroparesis, or the inability of the body to fully digest and empty the stomach

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, especially when over-the-counter medication fails to work, it’s imperative to see a gastroenterologist. 

EGD: Treatment for GERD, Acid Reflux, and Heartburn

An esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGD, is an excellent diagnostic tool for the symptoms of GERD. EGD allows specialists to explore the upper section of your small intestine, duodenum, esophagus, and stomach to search for a disease or other cause of your GERD problems.

If you have lost your appetite due to GERD and have lost weight, EGD may be for you. Regurgitation and reflux, as well as painful swallowing, can be looked at with EGD. Anemia and blood loss from vomiting and bloody bowel movements may be identified and treated with EGD. 

The best way to describe an EGD is to resemble a colonoscopy but from the other end. A person is given an analgesic. Then a tube with a tiny camera is inserted into your esophagus and down to your duodenum. A biopsy or an impedance pH test can be done at this time.

Impedance pH testing is a way to determine the pH and impedance levels of the acid and stomach contents that back up into your esophagus. This can help diagnose GERD and help identify if EGD and GERD care is needed.

EGD: Treatment for GERD, Acid Reflux, and Heartburn

Why Go To Idaho Digestive Health Institute And See Dr. Woolf For This Procedure?

Contact our team and our incredible specialist, Dr. Woolf, at Idaho Digestive Health Institute for excellent care and answers to your digestive conditions.