Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic (long-term) digestive disorder caused by gastric acid flowing from the stomach into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle that connects the stomach and esophagus. When the LES is weakened, stomach acid flows back (reflux) into the esophagus, causing it to burn.
The main symptom of GERD is chronic heartburn. Other symptoms include:
- Burning feeling in the back of the throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Tasting old food in the back of the mouth
- Waking up choking at night
- Weight loss
- Blood in stool
- Chest pain
- Another key indicator is the lack of relief provided by over-the-counter medications (Metamucil®, Tums®, etc.).
In many cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes as directed by your physician. Some ways to manage heartburn include quitting smoking, eating smaller portions, avoiding fried, acidic and fatty foods, and not laying down or going to bed right after a meal.
The experts at the UK Digestive Health Program's Heartburn Clinic can diagnose and treat GERD symptoms. This multidisciplinary clinic allows patients to see a gastroenterologist and a surgeon in one visit, if needed. Specialists work together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment or view a list of our physicians.