Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that
occurs when stomach acid, or occasionally bile, leak backwards from the
stomach into the food pipe (esophagus), causing irritation of the lining
in the esophagus.
About 20-30% of Orange County residents suffer from daily chronic reflux.
Some individuals can manage their condition with medications and lifestyle
changes, yet for others, stronger medications or possibly surgery is needed.
Symptoms of GERD
Individuals that suffer daily from one or many of these symptoms below
should speak with their physician about the possibility of GERD:
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
Complications of GERD
When left untreated, or not treated to the proper extent, GERD can sometimes
lead to other complications, including:
Esophagitis—inflammation of the esophagus
Esophageal stricture—narrowing of the esophagus
Esophageal ulcer—an open sore in the esophagus
Or, in some extreme cases, GERD can lead to precancerous changes to the
Barrett’s esophagus, which, in turn, can lead to esophageal cancer.
Barrett’s Esophagus and Cancer
About 20 percent of individuals living with GERD develop
Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is when the esophagus reacts to the repeated
injury from the acidic fluid by changing the type of cells lining it from
squamous (normal cells) to columnar (intestinal-type cells). This transformation
is believed to be a protective response to make the esophagus more resistant
About 3.3 million American adults have Barrett’s esophagus. With
modern medical technology, they can be treated.