At GIDOC JHB we offer the treatment of GI disorders, including Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.
We offer the latest, minimally invasive endoscopic procedures to diagnose and treat GERD and Barrett’s esophagus.
Dr. Schneider helps you to manage Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD through medication and diet and to prevent long-term complications, such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophagitis.
We do our best to give you thorough evaluations and effective treatments to ensure your speedy recovery.
Our patients’ health and well-being will always be our top priority.
We strive to improve your quality of life through our high-quality and compassionate care.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
Acid reflux or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common condition in which acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus and up to the throat, irritating lining tissues.
Everyone experiences reflux from time to time, and it is especially common in infants.
Occasional reflux doesn’t necessarily mean that a child has gastroesophageal reflux disease, but if you suspect your child does, it’s always best to schedule an appointment with a professional medical doctor to confirm.
More information can be found here
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the muscle between your stomach and esophagus weakens.
When this muscle relaxes too often or for too long, acid refluxes back into the esophagus, leading to vomiting or heartburn.
There are many causes of acid reflux, most of them are lifestyle-related and include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Spicy foods
- Garlic and onions
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits and drinks
- Coffee/ingredients with caffeine
- Fatty and fried foods
- Tomato-based products
What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux can affect children and adults in different ways. The most common symptom is heartburn, a burning chest pain that begins behind the breastbone and moves upward to the neck and throat.
It can last as long as two hours and is often worse after eating. Lying down or bending over can also result in heartburn. Most common symptoms could include:
- Refusal to eat
- Trouble swallowing
- Sour or bitter taste in the mouth, especially during the night
- Frequent vomiting
- Burning in chest
- Repeatedly feeling a need to clear the throat
- Frequent cough
- Coughing fits at night
- Frequent upper respiratory infections (colds)
- Rattling in the chest
Symptoms can improve within days of removing gluten from the diet.
However, you shouldn’t stop eating gluten until a diagnosis is made.
Removing gluten prematurely may interfere with test results and lead to an inaccurate diagnosis.
How is GERD diagnosed/evaluated?
Your gastroenterologist will perform a physical examination and obtain a medical history.
If you experience classic symptoms of acid reflux disease without any troublesome complications, it may be relatively easy for your doctor to make an acid reflux diagnosis.
If your gastroenterologist suspects acid reflux or GERD, he or she may also use one or more of the following tests:
- Chest X-ray
- Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series
- Esophageal manometric studies
- pH testing
The goals of acid reflux treatment are to reduce reflux, relieve symptoms, and prevent damage to the esophagus. For cases of mild acid reflux, lifestyle changes may be enough.
More severe cases may need prescription medication or surgery. Surgery is never the first treatment option for acid reflux or GERD.
Lifestyle changes include not smoking, not drinking alcohol, and not consuming fatty or greasy foods that irritate the esophagus. It is helpful to eat small meals throughout the day instead of large meals.
Eating a lot of food at one time increases the amount of acid needed to digest it. You should avoid eating before lying down after you eat. It is also recommended you should maintain a healthy weight and good posture.
These additional steps may reduce reflux.
- Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime. This allows your stomach to empty and acid production to decrease.
- Don’t lie down right after eating at any time of day.
- Elevate the head of your bed 6 inches with blocks. Gravity helps prevent reflux.
- Avoid known trigger foods like chocolate, caffeine, mints or mint-flavored foods, spicy foods, citrus, and tomato-based foods. These foods decrease the competence of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
- Lose excess weight. Overweight and obese people are much more likely to have bothersome reflux than people of healthy weight.
- Stand upright or sit up straight, maintain good posture. This helps food and acid pass through the stomach instead of backing up into the esophagus.
If lifestyle changes do not work, it can be helpful to use an over-the-counter antacid. Antacids work by neutralizing the stomach acid and coating the stomach.
Antacids relieve symptoms rapidly, but only temporarily. If you need antacids for over two weeks, you should contact your gastroenterologist and discuss other appropriate treatments.
Acid Reflux – Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to prevent acid reflux?
Yes. The best and safest way to prevent acid reflux from occurring is to change the things that cause reflux such as smoking, eating before you sleep, smoking and avoiding foods that trigger reflux.
Does everyone who has heartburn have acid reflux or GERD?
No. Reflux is only considered a disease when excessive amounts of reflux occur (pathologic reflux) causing frequent symptoms or tissue damage.
Can Ignoring persistent heartburn symptoms can lead to severe consequences?
The severity of heartburn is measured by how long a given episode lasts, how often symptoms occur, and/or their intensity.
Since the esophageal lining is sensitive to stomach contents, persistent and prolonged exposure to these contents may cause changes such as inflammation, stomach ulcers, bleeding and scarring with obstruction.
Persistent symptoms of heartburn and reflux should not be ignored. By seeing a gastroenterologist early, the physical cause of acid reflux and GERD can be treated and more serious problems avoided.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.