GERD Awareness week brings up a lot of questions on GERD and Acid Reflux. So we asked Dr. Rishi Sharma, Gastroenterologist in Walnut Creek, what are the most Frequently Asked Questions about this topic and we were lucky enough to get some great answers. Take a look!
What is GERD?
GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a digestive disease in which stomach acid refluxes (back flows) into your esophagus. The esophagus is not made to handle the harsh acidic environment of your stomach, and when reflux happens, you may feel symptoms.
Will what I eat help with GERD Symptoms?
Yes! Many patients with GERD can improve without any medications just with diet. There are many classic trigger foods such as tomatoes, spicy foods, and acidic foods. Alcohol and caffeine play a large role as well. Diet is very important when managing GERD symptoms, and can be very difficult especially around the holidays.
Does Health play a role in GERD – overweight, diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure?
Yes again! Patients who are obese, especially central obesity (i.e. “a beer belly”) can have worse symptoms. Losing weight can often resolve many GERD symptoms in addition to helping with many other medical problems.
How can you treat GERD?
There are many treatments for GERD. With all patients, the goal is to minimize medications, so working on lifestyle and dietary changes comes first. After this, there are medications, including short acting medications (Tums, Maalox), H2 blockers (Zantac, Pepcid) and proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Protonix, Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Aciphex, etc.). In some patients, they may be better suited for surgical management as well.
Will GERD go away on its own?
Not necessarily. With lifestyle and diet changes, many symptoms can be controlled. However, long term control is very important, as uncontrolled GERD is linked in the development of Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition which leads to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Years ago, the most common cause of esophageal cancer was squamous cell cancer, now it is adenocarcinoma, and this is partially due to the increase in GERD in our population.
If you would like to learn more about GERD and Acid Reflux, call Dr. Sharma to schedule an appointment at 925.350.4044