To understand what GERD is, we will break this term down. Gastro deals with the study of the stomach; esophageal refers to the esophagus and lastly, reflux means the backflow of something. Gastro esophageal reflux disease is the condition where the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. GERD is the potential cause of various diseases such as BARRETT’S esophagus due to the presence of acid in the esophagus. What we will understand from this blog is the detailed anatomy, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and lastly treatment of GERD.
Anatomy of GERD
The whole gastrointestinal tract consists of four layers, mucosa, submucosa, muscle, and adventitia. The difference at the various levels of the tract is present due to the difference in the structure of mucosa. The mucosa is consisted of; epithelial layer, lamina propria, and muscularis muco. These are the three internal layers of mucosa.
The mucosa of the esophagus is adapted for the passage of food. It is made up of squamous epithelium. The only job of this type of tissue is to ensure the smooth passage of food. This epithelium is different from that of the stomach as unlike the stomach, this mucosa is too much vulnerable to acid damage. The characteristics of the mucosa in the stomach areas such to decrease the action of acid on the epithelial layer.
At the lower end of the esophagus, a circular muscle is presently known as a sphincter. This sphincter relaxes and contracts between the passages of food in order to restrict the acid reflux from the stomach. When the sphincter is loosened by the abnormal pressure in the esophagus, gastric acid reflux happens in the esophagus from the stomach.
When the PH of the esophagus drops down to 4, the esophagus is said to be refluxed by acid
Etiology of GERD
When the defense mechanism such as peristalsis and the action of saliva is not able to regulate the PH, GERD is caused due to the persistence of acid reflux for a longer period. The fail of the defense mechanism is caused by the incapacity of the sphincter to work properly. Following are the potential causes of this incapacity of the sphincter:
- Drinking alcohol
- Unregulated caffeine intake
Some of the medical conditions that can increase the chances of GERD are;
- Stomach hernia
- Crest Syndrome
- Esophagitis: in which the inflammation result in the development of edema. As a consequence, the mucosa is eroded
- Scar tissue: this happens due to the replacement of damaged/ eroded tissue
- Esophageal stenosis: this is caused by the thickening of walls.
- Barrett’s esophagus: the damaged lower esophagus is replaced by columnar cells. These columnar cells resemble to the intestinal cells. This increases the chances if esophageal cancer by a large possibility.
Symptoms of GERD(Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease)
- Acidic taste in mouth
- Dental damage
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Persistent cough
Diagnosis of GERD
Based on the study of symptoms the diagnosis of GERD varies.
- A physician may offer to diagnose GERD by giving a trial of Medicine to the patient (proton inhibitors) in order to see if the symptoms improve.
- Upper endoscopy is another way to diagnose GERD
- Other ways for diagnosis of this condition include; X-Ray, PH monitoring, Biopsy
The diagnosis of GERD is done to; confirm the condition, evaluation of the damage done, and muscle function
Prevention of GERD
One can certainly avoid the occurrence of persistent acid reflux in the esophagus by regulating their lifestyle. Some of the important ways to prevent GERD are:
- Cutting down weight
- Stopping drinking and smoking
- Switching to a balanced healthy diet
- Taking walks after meals
Treatment of GERD
The treatment of GERD mainly includes the prescription of medications. There are two main types of medications that are given to treat GERD; antacids and proton pump inhibitors. The intents of these medications are:
- Acid neutralization
- Proton Receptor blocking
- Decrease in HCL production
- Regulating the sphincter
If the condition of the patient does not get better by taking medications, surgery is suggested. The aim of surgery depends upon the type of procedure a patient has to be gone through. For example, if the patient goes through Nissen Fundoplication, the aim is to make the sphincter tighter.
If GERD has caused any other condition, the treatment option may vary completely in contrast to the general treatment for GERD.
As awareness is a necessary element of your healing, this blog provides you with the key important factors to understand this disease. GERD is a problem in the digestive tract. The serious expertise this condition demands to be handled cannot be overstated and your doctor is the only way to stabilize this condition.
We at Alpha Liver and Gastro Centre provide precise diagnosis, compatible treatment, and the highest levels of experts to deal with your GERD.