What Causes GERD Symptoms?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is acid reflux – but so much more. You may experience the uncomfortable burning and sour taste of acid reflux on occasion after a rich meal, but GERD is chronic. You experience a burning sensation in your chest and other symptoms at least two times per week. 

In severe cases, GERD can disrupt your sleep, worsen asthma, and lead to a chronic cough and laryngitis.

The board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Disorders Associates in Annapolis, Maryland, can help you manage the symptoms of GERD. You also may be able to do a lot to alleviate GERD at home when you understand exactly why the symptoms arise. Here’s what you need to know.

Symptoms of GERD

First, check your symptoms to make sure you have GERD. It’s also a good idea to get evaluated by one of the specialists at Digestive Disorders Associates to confirm a diagnosis.

The primary symptom of GERD is regular heartburn that usually happens after eating. The heartburn may worsen at night and disturb your sleep. The heartburn can also cause chest pain. You may find swallowing is difficult or feel as if you have a lump in your throat.

When unmanaged, these symptoms can cause a chronic cough, change your voice, and erode the tissue of the esophagus.

Why GERD happens

GERD occurs when part of your esophagus fails. The esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Usually food and drink flow one way, but when stomach acid flows back up, you experience GERD.

The backflow happens when the lower esophageal sphincter, a circular band of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus, fails to contract adequately and allows stomach acid to creep back up. The acid can irritate the delicate tissue of the esophagus, causing uncomfortable inflammation.

Causes of failure in the esophageal sphincter 

The lower esophageal sphincter can be weak or not contract properly due to a number of factors, including pregnancy. 

Other causes may include:

These underlying conditions can be treated to help alleviate GERD symptoms.

If you have a weak esophageal sphincter, some lifestyle habits further inhibit its inability to work properly. Smoking, late-night eating, large meals, fried or fatty foods, and some medications – including aspirin – are often to blame. 

You may have specific triggers, too, such as alcohol and coffee. The team at Digestive Disorders Associates can help you identify items that aggravate GERD so you avoid them and allay your symptoms.

How we can help

Our professionals at Digestive Disorders Associates offer conservative treatments first, which include over-the-counter antacids, prescribed dietary changes, and weight-loss support.

For more severe GERD, you may benefit from prescription medications, such as proton pump inhibitors or H2 receptor blockers. In some cases, surgical intervention can ease troublesome GERD.

If you suspect you have GERD, get professional care from our team at Digestive Disorders Associates. We can help you treat any underlying conditions contributing to GERD and help you find ways to manage your symptoms. 

Call our office in Annapolis, Maryland, or schedule your visit online for an evaluation with one of our caring physicians.

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