GERD is an abbreviation for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Reflux refers to the return of acid, food contents, or gas from the stomach into the oesophagus (food pipe).
GERD affects 30–40% of the population with varying severity. If there is reflux for a short time, it is not harmful. Persistent and unchecked acid/alkali reflux can result in erosions/ulcers/strictures (food-pipe narrowing) or cancer of the food-pipe (esophageal cancer).
Heart-burn, chest pain, chest discomfort, sour taste in mouth, excessive salivation, chronic cough, sore throat, hoarseness of voice are some of the symptoms of GERD. Some patients may not visit a GI specialist and consult a pulmonologist or ENT doctor for excessive salivation, chronic cough, sore throat, or hoarseness of voice, which can delay the diagnosis.
To get rid of GERD, one needs to understand why he/she is having GERD. Firstly, GERD patients need to understand the risk factors for GERD and address them, namely, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, irregular food habits, and the types of foods that can worsen GERD. Secondly, consult a GI doctor (gastroenterologist) to assess the severity of GERD. Take the medicines for the duration prescribed by the doctor. Finally, lifestyle modification to prevent recurrences of GERD and hence reduce doctor visits.