All About GERD


By Dr. Prabha Sawant in Gastroenterology

GERD: Overview

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Many people experience acid reflux from time to time. GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week.

Causes of GERD

The term “gastroesophageal” refers to the stomach and esophagus. Reflux means to flow back or return. Gastroesophageal reflux is when what’s in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. In normal digestion, your LES opens to allow food into your stomach. Then it closes to stop food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into your esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux happens when the LES is weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t. This lets the stomach's contents flow up into the esophagus.

Diagnosis of GERD

If you have severe, lasting esophageal reflux, or if your symptoms don’t get better with treatment, you may need tests for a better diagnosis. Your doctor may use one or more procedures to do this:

  • Endoscopy
  • Upper GI series
  • Esophageal manometry and impedance study
  • pH testing

Risks & Complications for GERD

You’re at a higher risk for GERD if you:

  • are obese
  • have a hiatal hernia
  • are pregnant
  • have a connective tissue disorder

You can aggravate GERD if you:

  • smoke
  • eat large meals
  • eat close to bedtime
  • eat fatty or fried foods
  • drink coffee
  • drink tea
  • drink alcohol
  • use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin

GERD Treatment

Treatment consists of self-care and antacids

Relief from lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medication is usually temporary. Stronger medication may be required.


Elevate the head of the bed - Reduces the likelihood of acid reflux or developing pneumonia from saliva entering the airways.

Dietary modification - Adjusting diet to prevent or treat disease.

Weight loss - Can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of complications related to obesity.


Antacid - Counteracts the effects of stomach acid.

Proton-pump inhibitor - Decreases acid release in the stomach.

Antidiarrhoeal - Reduces frequency and urgency of bowel movements.

Relief from GERD

You can reduce or eliminate the discomfort of GERD symptoms by taking a few simple steps. These include:

  • Avoiding fast food
  • Not eating 3 to 4 hours before bed
  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine
  • Steering clear of tobacco
  • Staying away from spicy foods
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing
  • Exercising regularly with an empty stomach

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the types of GERD?

There are two types of GERD:

  1. Non-erosive reflux disease - This is a type of GERD that consists of acid reflux symptoms that happen in the absence of damage to the esophageal lining. Patients who are affected by this type of GERD are generally less responsive to PPI medications.
  2. Erosive reflux disease - Unlike non-erosive reflux disease, this type of GERD is characterized by inflammation, swelling, and ulcerations of the esophageal lining. This type of GERD is diagnosed easily, even when it shows no symptoms.

What foods should you avoid for GERD?

Foods that may GERD patients avoid:

  • Fried food.
  • Fast food.
  • Pizza.
  • Potato chips and other processed snacks.
  • Chili powder and pepper (white, black, cayenne)
  • Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage.
  • Cheese.

What is the difference between acid reflux and GERD?

Acid reflux is a common medical condition that can range in severity from mild to serious.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the chronic, more severe form of acid reflux.

What is the fastest way to cure GERD?

Laparoscopic surgery involves quicker recovery time and less pain. However, traditional surgery might not be the right choice for many. Based on your requirement, your doctor and surgeon will be the right people to decide what might be best for you.

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