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GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is the backflow of stomach contents upward into the esophagus. The stomach lining protects itself from the effects of its own acids. Because the esophagus lacks a similar protective lining, stomach acid that flows backward (refluxes) into it causes heartburn. Many people experience heartburn occasionally; however, people who get heartburn or other similar symptoms persistently are considered to have GERD.

Risk Factors For GERD

Risk factors are characteristics that may increase your chance of developing a condition. Risk factors for GERD include: age (over 50 years old), being overweight or obese, pregnancy, smoking and some medications. Some foods can cause symptoms of GERD, but may not necessarily cause GERD itself. Like alcoholic drinks, chocolate, coffee, tea, cola, high acidity foods, fatty foods, peppermint and spicy foods

Heartburn and a heart attack have similar symptoms, it is important to note their differences. For a heart attack, burning pain generally travels down the left or both arms. With GERD, the burning pain stays in the upper chest. However, even people with characteristic features of GERD may require tests to ensure the symptoms are not being caused by a heart attack.

Symptoms of GERD

Other symptoms of GERD include regurgitation, a sour or bitter taste in the throat or back of the mouth, excessive saliva, belching, upset stomach, or vomiting. If GERD is not managed well, other complications can arise over time. Tests may include a series of X-rays of the stomach to look for other possible problems, such as peptic ulcers.

Treatment for GERD

Medications can be used to neutralize stomach acid and can be used to reduce the production of stomach acid. Surgery is reserved for people with severe complications but is needed only rarely. Most people can have successful treatment by taking medications and making lifestyle and diet changes.

Talk to your Pharmasave Valleyview Pharmacist for advice if you are experiencing GERD symptoms.