What is GERD?

If you have heartburn or reflux twice a week or more, you may have GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom, but you may also experience:

• Hoarseness or sore throat
• Frequent swallowing
• Asthma or asthma-like symptoms
• Pain or discomfort in the chest
• Sleep disruption
• Bloating
• Excessive clearing of the throat
• Persistent cough
• Burning in the mouth or throat
• Intolerance of certain foods
• Dental erosions or therapy-resistant gum disease or inflammation

Normally, after swallowing, a valve between the esophagus and the stomach opens to allow food to pass, then it closes to prevent stomach contents from “refluxing” back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. For people who suffer from GERD, the valve is dysfunctional and unable to prevent acid from refluxing into the esophagus.

Why pharmaceuticals are not a long-term solution
GERD today is typically treated with medications such as histamine receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), such as Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Nexium, Prilosec and Protonix. While often effective for short-term treatment, these medications can lose their effectiveness over time. They also don’t treat the underlying root case of reflux, the deteriorated anatomy of the antireflux barrier, so life-long medication therapy is required. In addtion, recent studies on the adverse effects of long-term use of PPIs suggest a significantly higher incidence of hip fractures, particularly among women.

Surgical Treatment at GLSA
For people who have moderately severe to severe GERD, surgical intervention may be required. Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is now considered the standard surgical approach for treatment of severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).