Health Matters: GERD

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Approximately 14 million adults in the United States suffer from a condition known as gastroesophageal disease, or GERD. In this Health Matters we examine the symptoms and treatments for this condition.

After months of trying to find foods that would not give him heartburn, William Thompson says that regardless of what he did, his symptoms continued to worsen.

“A lot of chest discomfort, a lot of soreness in my throat that causes laryngitis in the morning, a lot of sleeping problems real sour stomach,” says William.

Capital Regional Medical Center Gastroenterologist Leonard Leichus describes the cause behind this disease.

“A disorder where gastric acid and gastric contents reflux into the esophagus causing chest discomfort and other disorders.”

Experts say that the first treatment besides over the counter acid-reducing products like Rolaids should be lifestyle related.

“Elevate the head of the bed; do not eat before going to bed to decrease the amount of fat and caffeine in their diet.”

If these changes do not bring the patient the results desired, prescription medications may then be recommended. A new endoscopic procedure called "the stretta" can be used to eliminate the symptoms of this condition in the most serious of cases.

Through the application of the electrical current the esophagus then forms scar tissue which actually tightens the lower esophageal sphincter. This procedure takes approximately 45 minutes to perform and patients are able to go home that same day.

While the reason is not clearly known, men are about 10 times more likely than women to develop GERD.

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