A Patient’s Guide to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Human digestive system cutaway

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly referred to as acid reflux disease, is a chronic condition that affects an estimated 17 million Americans.  GERD is a condition in which stomach acid repeatedly flows into the esophagus, resulting in chronic and sometimes debilitating heartburn.  Read on to learn more about the treatment options for GERD available here at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center:

Causes

While occasional heartburn is a relatively common condition, GERD develops as a result of a compromised lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES) which separates the esophagus from the stomach.  While the exact causes of GERD are unclear, research suggests that a hiatal hernia—a condition in which the LES and top part of the stomach move above the diaphragm—can increase the likelihood of developing GERD.  Other risk factors for GERD include obesity, pregnancy, and smoking.

Long-term Effects

Chronic GERD can lead to a wide range of health complications if left untreated.  Repeated exposure to stomach acid may cause bleeding, ulcers, and scar tissue to develop within the esophagus.  Additionally, a rare condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus may develop and can even lead to a deadly type of cancer.

Treatments

Treatments for GERD vary based on the severity of the condition.  In mild cases of GERD, a doctor may recommend a simple change in diet to avoid foods that could exacerbate reflux symptoms, such as:

  • Citrus fruits/drinks
  • Caffeinated or alcoholic drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Peppermint
  • Tomato-based products

Medications can also relieve symptoms of GERD, but the effectiveness of these drugs may diminish with prolonged use and many pose detrimental long-term health effects.  In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to repair the LES and treat the cause of GERD.

Fortunately, the revolutionary TIF treatment for GERD available here at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center can help repair the LES without invasive surgery, producing effective results with reduced risk.  To learn more about how the TIF procedure may be able to help you or your loved one treat acid reflux, contact us at (805) 497-2727 today.

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