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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms. In some cases, GERD is caused by a hiatal hernia.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of GERD include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Heartburn
In many cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes. Foods and drinks like chocolate, fried or fatty foods, coffee and alcoholic beverages can cause or worsen GERD symptoms, as can cigarette smoking. Even with lifestyle adjustments, some patients may still require medication or surgery to find relief. When lifestyle and dietary changes are unsuccessful, a more detailed diagnostic evaluation must be performed.  If left untreated, GERD can lead to serious complications, including cancer of the esophagus.


Diagnostic tests

Physicians may order a series of diagnostic tests for patients whose GERD cannot be controlled through lifestyle adjustments. These tests include upper GI X-ray that shows the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine). This test is used to rule out other diagnoses. Endoscopy is another method used to examine the esophagus. In endoscopy, a small lighted camera is inserted into the esophagus to look for inflammation or irritation of the tissue. Often a biopsy is also performed during endoscopy.

Lifestyle adjustments and medications

The first step in treating GERD is to avoid foods and beverages that cause or worsen symptoms. Avoiding foods like chocolate, fried foods, coffee, and alcoholic drinks can help prevent GERD, and staying away from acidic foods like citrus and tomato can help heal a damaged esophageal lining. Physicians also recommend not eating within two hours of bedtime, elevating the pillow on your bed to allow gravity to assist in keeping acid flowing down to the stomach, and quitting smoking. If lifestyle adjustments fail to work, doctors can recommend both over the counter and prescription medications geared towards reducing stomach acid.

Interventional and Surgical Treatments

When all other treatments fail, a small number of patients may need surgery (Fundoplication) to treat their severe reflux. Fundoplication is a surgical procedure used for hiatal hernias which can alleviate GERD symptoms.

LINX Reflux Management System Treatment Option

If you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, you may be a candidate for this minimally invasive surgical procedure. The LINX® Reflux Management System is intended to aid patients who suffer from GERD. CMC is the only hospital approved to perform the procedure in Southern New Hampshire. The LINX Reflux Management System is intended for those patients diagnosed with GERD who continue to have chronic heartburn symptoms despite maximum medical therapy. It is the only FDA-approved device for the treatment of GERD.

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