GERD occurs when the contents of the stomach move up into the esophagus. That causes symptoms such as burning behind your breastbone, belching, an acid taste in your mouth, or difficulty swallowing.
Our gastroenterologists may recommend treating GERD in stages, starting with diet and lifestyle changes and over-the-counter acid reducers before recommending prescription medications, including proton pump inhibitors. If these nonsurgical options aren't effective, and your GERD is considered moderate to severe, your gastroenterologist may recommend surgical treatment.
Complications of Untreated GERD
Getting effective treatment for GERD is important because chronic acid reflux can cause painful irritation called esophagitis. It can also cause precancerous changes in the lining of the esophagus. This is called Barrett’s esophagus and may lead to the development of esophageal cancer. In rare cases, severe reflux can cause hoarseness, permanent vocal changes, and even severe narrowing of the esophagus called strictures.
Acid Reflux Procedures Repair Hiatal Hernias
A hiatal hernia, or type of hiatal hernia called a paraesophageal hernia, occurs when the stomach and other abdominal organs enter the chest area through the hiatus, a naturally occurring hole in the diaphragm. The presence of a hiatal or paraesophageal hernia allows acid to flow freely into the esophagus and may cause additional symptoms including nausea, vomiting, chest pain, heartburn, and difficulty swallowing. A surgical procedure can repair these hernias and offer symptom relief.