What is GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) happens when food and liquid from the stomach move back up into the esophagus, causing irritation of the lining of the esophagus.
How do I know if I have GERD?
Here are some symptoms of GERD
- Heartburn or burning in the chest*
- Regurgitation (bringing food back up)
- Chest pain*
- Nausea after eating
- Sour taste in mouth
- Coughing, choking or wheezing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Belching or burping excessively
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Sore throat
- Feeling that food is stuck behind the breastbone
*may be a sign of heart problems; do not delay evaulation
Pre-Cancerous changes in the esophagus
Acid and other digestive juice from the stomach can cause damage to the lining of the esophagus. In some cases, that causes pre-cancerous cells to form. That is known as Barrett’s esophagus.
You are more likely to have this condition if you have had GERD for a long period of time. Barretts’s esophagus occurs more often in men than women and is more common in middle aged or older people.
No symptoms; significant risks
There are no symptoms that someone has barrett’s esophagus. When developing Barrett’s esophagus patients believe they are getting better because symptoms of GERD sometimes get better or even disappear. This may lead to a false sense of security. But even without symptoms they can feel, those with Barrett’s esophagus still have a much greater risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Barrett’s esophagus may never go away, even with medication or diet changes. This is why doctors often check those patients on a regular basis to make sure the condition isn’t getting worse.