Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

by Michael_Koger

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common infirmity which entails a variety of complaints.

In the United States, approximately 40 percent of the population suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) each month. There are many terms in medicine which are synonymous with this illness such as heartburn, acid indigestion, acid reflux, and acid regurgitation. There is a distinction between gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and GERD. Specifically, GERD is more serious than GER [1, 2].

Risk factors for this medical condition include pregnancy, overweight and obesity, cigarette smoking, and certain medications. The discomfort often results from stomach acid which comes into contact with the esophageal mucosa. Excessive body weight will naturally predispose to this occurrence—especially when clothing around the waist is too tight [2].

Lifestyle Modification

Modification of lifestyle will afford some relief, and there are two measures which are beneficial—weight loss and elevation of the head of the bed at night.  The literature may be controversial about other methods such as dietary change.  Nevertheless, one can choose to refrain from consumption of greasy foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and spicy items [1, 2]. 

Some will agree that avoidance of acidic foods such as tomatoes and tomato products will provide relief.  Moreover, peppermint and chocolate may, in the opinion of some patients and physicians, aggravate the situation [1, 2]. 

Many physicians will recommend smoking cessation as well, and this is a standard lifestyle change that everyone, regardless of his or her health, should follow [1, 2].

Signs and Symptoms of GERD

The clinical presentation of these individuals may include chest or abdominal pain, bad breath, difficulty swallowing, nausea and vomiting, and wearing away of the teeth.  The discomfort in the chest may be a burning sensation behind the breastbone or in the epigastric region of the abdomen [1, 2].

The physician must consider the possibility of a heart attack in these clients as the signs and symptoms of the two conditions overlap [1, 2].

There may also be a taste of food or stomach acid in the mouth [2].


Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a well-known chronic illness, and knowledge of the signs, symptoms, and risk factors will enable many clients to recognize the need for a medical evaluation.


  1. Alzubaidi, M. and Gabbard, S.  (2015).  GERD:  Diagnosing and treating the burn.  Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 82, 685-692.
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.  (2014).  Acid reflux (GER and GERD) in adults.  Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  3. The photo shows a library at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is reprinted with permission from that organization.   


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 10/19/2016, Michael_Koger
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