What’s the real cause of GERD?

What’s the real cause of GERD?

Your acid reflux may not be caused by stomach acid after all, according to a new study.

For decades, medical research and science has pointed to stomach acid backing up through the esophagus as the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. However, new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that GERD may actually be caused by damage to the esophagus due to inflammation, rather than damage caused by stomach acid.

The study suggests that an immune reaction resulting in the secretion of proteins called cytokines produces the damaging inflammatory response in the esophagus.

GERD, which affects 20 percent of adult Americans, results from irritation of the lining of the esophagus and can cause symptoms ranging from chest pain to bleeding ulcers in the esophagus. In some cases, GERD is associated with Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.

Though the new research may change physicians’ understanding of the underlying cause of GERD, at least for the immediate future, it does not change the approach to GERD treatment with antacid medications. However, the findings may lead to new therapies that target the inflammation to help treat patients with severe cases of GERD.

Current treatments for relieving acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Antacids to neutralize stomach acid
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications to reduce acid production (called H-2-receptor blockers)
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications to block acid production and heal the esophagus (called proton pump inhibitors)
  • Medications to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter

If you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, home remedies or lifestyle changes may also help reduce your symptoms. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding trigger foods and drinks (alcohol, acidic foods, chocolate, caffeine, fatty or fried foods, etc.)
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Waiting at least three hours after eating to lie down
  • Elevating the head of your bed
  • Quitting smoking

In addition to medications and lifestyle changes, for serious cases, surgical procedures may be suggested to relieve the painful symptoms associated with GERD. These procedures include:

  • Nissen fundoplication: A surgical procedure to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter. During this laparoscopic procedure, the very top of the stomach is wrapped around the outside lower esophagus to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter and prevent reflux.
  • Linx: A surgical procedure to strengthen the esophageal sphincter. During this procedure, a ring of tiny magnetic titanium beads called the Linx device is wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the Linx beads keeps the opening between the stomach and esophagus closed to refluxing acid.

Do you suffer from acid reflux? Contact Goshen Health Acid Reflux Center at 574.537.1625 to find out how we can help stop the burn.

 

Posted: 8/26/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: acid reflux, digestive disorders, gastroenterology

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