GERD: Causes, Symptoms, and Potential Health Complications

GERD is one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal disorders, affecting approximately 20% of adults in North America. Severe cases may lead to multiple health complications like halitosis, earaches, dental problems, and worsening asthma symptoms. You can rely on gastroenterologist Robert Narvaez for effective GERD San Antonio non-surgical therapies to restore your quality of life.

What is GERD?

GERD (Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease) is where food leaks back from your stomach. It may cause a burning sensation and irritation of the esophagus. The reflux usually occurs after a meal, and symptoms may worsen when lying down.

It is natural to experience occasional incidences of acid reflux from the stomach. But if it happens frequently, it may irritate the esophagus and cause GERD.

What causes GERD?

The lower Esophageal Sphincter is a set of muscles that closes the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. The principal purpose of the esophageal sphincter is to prevent food from flowing back and the esophagus.

When stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, you may experience a burning sensation in your chest. Heartburn occurs when gastric acid is regurgitated into the esophagus.

However, heartburn is not always a sure indicator that you have GERD. The burning sensation in your chest could be esophagitis, duodenitis, or intestinal inflammation.

Heartburn could also be a heart attack, stomach cancer, or intestinal ulcers. Your doctor will consider your medical history and other symptoms during the diagnosis.

Symptoms of GERD

You should consult a gastroenterologist if you experience acid reflux more than three times a week. Besides heartburn, you may have GERD if you also experience food regurgitation after a meal.

The flow back of food contains gastric acid that may injure the esophagus. The damaged tissue sometimes makes it challenging to swallow food.

Some patients may experience chest pain relief, persistent coughing, or the feeling of a lump in their throat. GERD may worsen or present asthma-like symptoms, including breathing problems and wheezing.

Can GERD cause health complications?

Unless treatment is administered on time, the frequent incidences of acid reflux may cause many health complications. GERD could cause esophagitis, which is the inflammation of the esophageal lining.

Acid reflux may worsen until it leads to the narrowing of the esophagus lining (esophageal stricture). Esophageal stricture is characterized by difficulties in swallowing food, choking, or vomiting blood.

The reflux may also cause bad breath and oral health problems. The foul odor is due to undigested food and stomach acids flowing back into the esophagus. The acid may lead to mouth dryness, creating a suitable environment for disease-causing bacteria to grow. 

Gastric acid may weaken the tooth’s enamel causing cavities and many other oral health problems. Enamel erosion appears as smooth, worn-out, deterioration but without the characteristic groove lines.

Severe acid reflux tends to have an interrelationship with asthma. Statistics show 50% of children with GERD will also have asthma. A thorough evaluation is essential when choosing the right prescription for patients with co-occurring conditions.

Contact Digestive & Liver Disease Center of San Antonio PLLC to schedule your GERD consultation today. 

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