Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, is a long-term condition where stomach contents come back up into the esophagus resulting in either symptoms or complications. Symptoms include the taste of acid in the back of the mouth, heartburn, bad breath, chest pain, vomiting, breathing problems, and wearing away of the teeth. Complications include esophagitis, esophageal strictures, and Barrett’s esophagus.
Risk factors include obesity, pregnancy, smoking, hiatus hernia, and taking certain medicines. Medications involved include antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and sleeping medication. It is due to poor closure of the lower esophageal sphincter (the junction between the stomach and the esophagus). Diagnosis among those who do not improve with simpler measures may involve gastroscopy, upper GI series, esophageal pH monitoring, or esophageal manometry.
Treatment is typically via lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery. Lifestyle changes may include not lying down for three hours after eating, losing weight, avoiding certain foods, and stopping smoking. Medications include antacids, H2 receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and prokinetics. Surgery may be an option in those who do not improve with other measures.