Heartburn, GER and GERD

Acid Reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or acid regurgitation, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens spontaneously or does not close properly, and the contents of the stomach, including digestive juices or acid, rise up into the esophagus. When acid reflux occurs, people may experience indigestion, and they may be able to taste food or fluid in the back of the mouth. If acid touches the lining of the esophagus, heartburn can result, which is a burning sensation in the chest or throat.

Occasional acid reflux is a very common problem, but those who suffer from reflux more than twice a week may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more serious form of GER that can lead to serious health problems. GERD symptoms also include dry cough, wheezing or trouble swallowing.

If you think you may have GERD and have used over-the-counter reflux medications for more than two consecutive weeks, consult your physician. GERD treatment may include the following lifestyle changes and medications:

  • Lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet; exercise; eating small, frequent meals; avoiding foods that worsen symptoms; and raising the head of your bed six-eight inches, may help remedy the symptoms of GERD.

  • Your physician may also prescribe certain medications to treat GERD, including antacids, foam agents, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and prokinetics, which all work to reduce regurgitation and strengthen the LES to prevent acid reflux.

If lifestyle changes and medications do not help treat your symptoms, your health care provider may suggest an Upper Endoscopy or other procedure to examine your esophagus for abnormalities, and surgery may be warranted.