GERD: A Quick Overview

What it is: GERD is one of the most common disorders of the digestive system. It affects the narrow tube that funnels food from your mouth to your stomach, called the esophagus. GERD occurs when the acidic contents of your stomach backs up into your esophagus and irritates its lining. This is called reflux.

How it's diagnosed: Usually your doctor needs only a history of your symptoms, including their severity and frequency, to diagnose GERD. He or she will also perform a physical examination. Tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis, to judge the severity of damage to your esophagus, or to rule out other conditions.

How it's treated: GERD is treated by taking medications and making lifestyle changes. The severity and type of symptoms determine what kind of medication works best for you and how often and how long you need to take it. Everyone who has GERD should make lifestyle changes. In rare cases, GERD may also be treated with surgery.

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Like others who have GERD, you probably wonder why symptoms such as heartburn, belching, or difficulty swallowing come and go or, at other times, never seem to go away. You may also feel worse at certain times of the day or after certain activities. You may also wonder if you did anything to cause your symptoms or if there is anything you can do to make them go away. GERD is treatable, and there are things you can do to feel better.

Learning more about your condition, how it can be treated, and what you can do to help yourself can help you overcome GERD.

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