GERD: Symptoms, Causes & Prevention!

Gastro-esophageal Reflex disease (GERD) also known as acid reflux is a condition in which the contents of the stomach rises into the esophagus i.e. the food pipe, causing inflammation, irritation and burning sensation.

GERD is a chronic disease which has various symptoms and complications, but can be treated easily.



  • Regurgitation i.e. the expulsion of undigested food and blood from the esophagus.
  • Heartburn i.e. burning sensation in the chest.
  • Pain while swallowing.
  • Sore throat.
  • Acid burps
  • Increased salivation.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Burping, crying, spitting, wheezing, etc in children.
  • Decay & erosion of the surface of the teeth & enamel.
  • Bad breath.
  • Dry mouth.


Acid reflux occurs due to incomplete closure of the lower esophageal sphincter. Factors that contribute to acid reflux are:

  • Hiatal hernia i.e hernia of the abdominal organs (typically stomach) causing GERD.
  • Obesity: Increased body massage index has been linked to more severe GERD
  • Formation of gallstones, as they obstruct the flow of bile (secretion of the gallbladder) into the duodenum, thus unable to neutralize the acid leading to acid reflux.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: It is a condition in which the patient faces pauses or shallow breathing while sleeping.


  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Delayed stomach emptying time.
  • Smoking
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol .
  • Eating large meals or late at night.
  • Eating certain foods such as fatty or fried food.
  • Consumption of carbonated beverages.
  • Taking certain medications such as aspirin.
  • Stress & Depression.
  • Infection by H.Pyroli


Over time as the condition progresses, the following complications may be seen:

  • Esophagus stricture o.r. narrowing of the esophagus.
  • Esophageal ulcers: Due to the wear and tear of tissue by the acid, sores and ulcers may form in the esophagus.
  • Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus.
  • Peptic ulcer.
  • Barrett’s esophagus: abnormal change in the lining of the esophagus
  • Esophageal Cancer.


Once symptoms are confirmed, the diagnosis for GERD is done as follows:

  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy ( EGD): It visualizes using an endoscope, the esophagus down to the duodenum.
  • Biopsy of the Esophageal tissue to check presence for presence of tumors & inflammation.
  • Ambulatory esophageal pH monitoring: The rate of regurgitation of the stomach acid is monitored using a clip or monitor.
  • Barium swallow X rays: The esophagus can be visualized easily by this procedure, hence any narrowing of the esophagus can be detected.
  • Esophageal manometry: This measures the force and coordination of the muscle contractions of the esophagus when a person swallows.


  • Lifestyle changes
  1. Weight loss
  2. Reduced sugar intake
  3. Increased fiber intake
  4. Avoiding fatty & spicy foods
  5. Lower intake of coffee
  6. Quit smoking
  7. Less or no consumption of alcohol
  8. Regular moderate exercise
  9. Improving sleeping habits
  • Medication
  1. Proton pump inhibitors e.g. Omeprazole
  2. H2 receptor blockers e.g. ranitidine
  3. Antacids e.g. Magnesium-Aluminium antacids
  4. Menthol solutions
  5. Sucralfate
  6. Sodium Bicarbonate acidity relieving powder
  • Surgical procedures
  1. Nissen fundoplication: In this procedure, the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter to strengthen the sphincter and prevent acid reflux and to repair a hiatal hernia. 
  2. Esophagogastric dissociation: This procedure is usually performed on neurologically impaired children. It is an alternative method, proven more efficient for such type of patients.
  3. A device called the LINX, which consists of a series of metal beads with magnetic cores may be used. They are placed surgically around the lower esophageal sphincter.This method is a good alternative for patients with severe symptoms and when other methods have not worked.