Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the valve between the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach – called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES – does not close properly. This causes stomach acid and juices to flow back to the upper esophagus and throat.
Overview and SymptomsThe symptoms of GERD include heartburn on a regular basis, a bitter or sour taste in the mouth, painful swallowing, difficulty swallowing, nausea, throat problems, and respiratory problems.
Treatment for GERD usually begins with dietary changes. Foods such as chocolate, coffee, onions, and peppermint may cause the LES to relax and not close tightly. Other foods can irritate the esophagus once it is affected by GERD. These include spicy foods, tomato products, and citrus fruits.
Acid reducers, antacids or prescription medications may be recommended, as well as simple lifestyle changes such as eating smaller meals and raising the head of the bed while sleeping.
Surgery to repair the LES is an option for patients with severe GERD. The Center for Advanced Endoscopy at Beth Israel Deaconess also is pioneering an exciting new endoscopic therapy for GERD patients.