Gastroesophageal reflux disease involves a regurgitation of gastric contents into the esophagus, the passage through which food moves from the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus becomes damaged because it lacks the protective lining of the stomach and is therefore very easily irritated by stomach acids. This causes a burning sensation in the chest, which is commonly known as heartburn or assessed as heart pain, although it has nothing to do with the heart. In addition, the stomach acid can lead to inflammation of the esophagus, and chronic inflammation may lead to ulceration and scarring of the esophagus. These conditions can turn into cancer over time. In this way, a completely curable condition worsens over time, significantly lowering quality of life due to chronic disease, and may even cause premature death.

Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors for this condition are smoking, eating spicy or acidic foods, obesity, consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol, or simply a weak lower esophageal sphincter, which controls the opening and closing of the entrance to the stomach.

Symptoms

Along with a burning sensation in the chest, you may feel pain when swallowing food, difficulty swallowing, a sour taste in the mouth from acid reflux, hoarseness of voice or cough, wheezing from gastric juices travelling between the throat and lungs, anemia, and shortness of breath in certain body positions.

Diagnosis

The patient’s medical history is usually the main indicator of this diagnosis. Lifestyle, smoking, alcohol, overeating, and lack of exercise may lead to this disease. Also, frequent vomiting after eating or drinking, along with burning or a sour taste in the mouth are signs of acid reflux. X-ray examinations, pH measurement, and fibrogastroscopy must be performed in order to assess the stage of the disease and to determine the need for surgery and the extent of surgery.

Treatment Options

Treatment of GERD depends on the patient's symptoms. As first steps, it is possible to start with medication, sleeping on a higher pillow, and changing eating habits. In severe cases, or when symptoms recur several months after stopping medication and adhering to the regimen, surgery will likely be recommended to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter.

Surgery is most likely to be recommended after the examination establishes whether the hernia is diaphragmatic, hiatus, or axial. I will do this because when the problem is physical and not functional, as is the case with GERD, there is no chance to achieve the desired result with conservative means.

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