Acid Reflux (GERD)

What is Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, commonly referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is a condition in which the liquid contents of the stomach refluxes or regurgitates into the esophagus. The liquid which can contain acid, pepsin, and bile can inflame and damage the lining of the esophagus. The neutralizing capacities of the esophagus that include bicarbonate in saliva and the motility contractions of the esophagus are overwhelmed leading to signs and symptoms.

Causes of Acid Reflux

The causes of acid reflux may include decreased motility of the esophageal muscles, a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, the presence of an hiatal hernia, or decreased emptying of the stomach. An allergic condition known as eosinophilic esophagitis can mimic acid reflux disease and can be diagnosed by upper endoscopy.

Factors Contributing to Acid Reflux Disease

Acid reflux is typically a chronic condition. Many factors can lead to the development of acid reflux including dietary factors (e.g. citrus products, tomatoes, caffeine, etc.), overweight, smoking tobacco, and as a side-effect of medications.

Complications from Acid Reflux Disease

Acid reflux may or may not lead to injury to the lining of the esophagus. Typically, patients who have chronic acid reflux or who develop acid reflux after the age of 50 warrant undergoing an upper endoscopy to inspect the esophagus and look for any injury to the esophageal lining. Injury to the esophagus can include ulcers, scar tissue or strictures, and Barrett’s esophagus which is considered a precancerous condition. Acid reflux is also considered a risk factor for esophageal cancer.

Acid Reflux Treatment

Treatment for acid reflux typically includes dietary modification, weight loss, elevating the head of the bed, and medications. Medications may include antacids or acid-reducing medications such as proton pump inhibitors. Treatment for acid reflux is typically chronic although in some patients with intermittent symptoms and no esophagitis, treatment can be intermittent and done only during symptomatic periods.

Learn More About Acid Refulx »

The board-certified physicians at San Francisco Gastroenterology are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the digestive tract, including acid reflux (GERD). Our doctors serve from Marin County, Oakland, Berkeley, Palo Alto and the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Our goal is simply to provide the highest quality medical care and patient service possible.

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