Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

What is gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (also called GERD) is the medical term for chronic heartburn. Many people have heartburn at times. It’s caused by irriration from stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Sometimes stomach acid backs all the way up to the throat or into the mouth. This acid has a sour taste.

When heartburn keeps happening over a long period of time, it’s called GERD. In some people, the stomach acid can hurt the esophagus. If you have this kind of heartburn, you may find it hard to swallow, or it may hurt to swallow. You may feel chest pain or pressure, and you may cough a lot. Your esophagus may become narrow in places, making it hard for food and liquids to get down into your stomach.

 

How does my doctor know I have GERD?

If you have bad heartburn and acid backing up into your esophagus, you probably have GERD. If your only symptoms are cough, chest pain, trouble swallowing or painful swallowing, you may need to have tests.

Your doctor may want to take x-rays or look at your esophagus through a narrow tube called an endoscope. Your doctor can use x-rays or an endoscope to see if your esophagus is hurt or has gotten narrow.

Your doctor may want you to have a pH monitoring test. This test will find out how much acid is in your esophagus. A small probe (a tool) measures how much acid gets into your esophagus during 24 hours.

 

If I have GERD, what treatment will I need?

To feel better, you may need to change the way you eat, drink and sleep. Your doctor may want you to make some of these changes:

  • Stop smoking, if you smoke.
  • Stop drinking alcohol, if you drink.
  • Lose weight, if you are overweight.
  • Don’t drink coffee or sodas that have caffeine in them.
  • Don’t eat foods that have acid in them, like oranges, grapefruit and tomatoes.
  • Don’t eat foods or drink liquids that have chocolate, spearmint or peppermint in them.
  • Don’t eat large meals. Instead, eat smaller meals and eat more often.
  • Don’t eat anything for three to four hours before you go to bed or before you lie down.
  • Don’t lie on your side when you go to sleep.
  • Don’t wear tight clothes especially tight belts.
  • Some medications, especially NSAIDS (e.g. Ibuprofen, Diclofenac) may worsen your symptoms. Check with your doctor before taking any medication.

 

Are there medicines that can help me?

You may need to take an antacid or medicines to decrease the amount of acid in your stomach. If you have very bad heartburn, your doctor may have you take a medicine that causes your stomach to make less acid. Another medicine helps food move more quickly through your stomach. Your doctor will decide if your heartburn is bad enough that you need to take these special medicines.

If medicines and changes in your eating and drinking don’t help, you may need surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you need surgery.

 

Need more advice?

Come down to Our Clinics for a discussion with Our Doctors.

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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.

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26 Comments

  1. for GERD is there a need to diagnose using endocopy?

  2. Hi doc! I Need advics and consult about Gerd in Singapore? How long I should stay there?I am Indonesian, and I felt uneasiness in my throat because of this sickness. Please advice. Thanks Gbu

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      GERD is easily manageable and treatable. You are most welcome to see one of us at our clinics. No appointment needed

  3. Ornel Bernardo

    Dear Doctor,
    I would just like to enquire if you have heard of the device and/or procedure using the Esophyx2 TIF? Or if you know of anyone in Singapore who does.
    Thank you !

    • No I have not. I just Googled it. Trans-oral incisionless Fundoplication. That is truly amazing. I think many people here will benefit from such a treatment. I cannot speak for my colleagues. There are Upper GI surgeons and gastroenterologists in Singapore who are obviously much more up to date on GERD treatments than I am. Perhaps you can check with them.

  4. Ramanathan

    Hi doctor ,
    My name is Ramanathan I am from India . I have too much acid reflexion I am very difficult to live my life , I can’t eat anything like other people and also have poor digestion . Last 3 months ago I went to India and took endoscopy check up . After the check up the doctor said eat correctly time to time and don’t eat spicy food crispy food . And the doctor gave me some tablet I took regularly also continuing the same problem for the acid reflexion . But I have no pain into my stomach . My problem is acid reflexion and poor digestion . Still I taking tablet everyday . Without tablet got too much acid reflexion . The tablet name is Omeprazole. Please doctor how to salve my problem ?
    Please help me.
    Thank you

    • It depends on what your problem is. If you have a poorly functioning sphincter, you might benefit from surgery. You may have an endocrine problem called Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. If it is just lifestyle related gastritis and GERD, the symptoms could be better controlled with Esomeprazole rather than Omeprazole. The dosage must also be adjusted. You might also need a motility stimulator. Please discuss all these with your doctor and follow his advice.

      • Ramanathan

        Hi doctor , thanks for your reply . Can I come to take treatment through to you ? Can you help me ?
        How can I come to meet you ? Can I get your address ?
        What about the cost if I need to surgery my stomach ? How many days I need to take bed rest ?
        Day by day it’s getting worst poor digestion and got vomit .

        I am worried about my life .

  5. Hi Doc. I’m just afraid of what is happening to me. I don’t know if what Im encountering right now is a decease that should be cure. It’s my inability to burp. Even after a heavy meal. That’s why i feel a bit heavy in my stomach. If im not mistaken, i have this a couple of years ago. Im really worried if there is a bad effect for my health.

    • I personally do not know of any serious illnesses that are associated with the inability to burp. But if you are worried you should see a gastro-enterologist.

  6. Joseph

    Hi Doc

    I have been having acid reflux problems for almost 10 yrs now and I used to be on ppi medicines on and off. My general symptoms are persistent cough and breathlessness with muscle spasms.
    I have been confirmed with GERD and hiatus hernia after endoscopy and ph test.
    This was done in India last month and I was advised for a surgery.

    Since I live in Singapore , Iam planning to undergo this surgery here. I need your advice as to who would be the best surgeon in sgh to perform this surgery. Thanks

    • Hi Joseph,

      This forum is not for dispensing medical advice. Neither can we recommend any doctors. Please see your GP for a referal.

      rgds

      Dr Tan

    • maria schmiede

      Hi Joseph,

      any luck finding a good surgeon for your condition? I also have the same condition and been trying to go to Singapore to correct it. Thank you.

  7. giovani

    hi doc, like a crumbling noise inside but not much, i have headache point at my head side upper the ear, and when i open my mouth there is a noise like a muscle crack. And white tounge. Have u seen this gastro symptoms before doc. Please tell me what kind of desease?

    • Hi giovani,

      Your symptoms sound like Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome. It is an inflammation of the jaw joint. This is not a serious problem but can be quite frustrating to treat. See your doctor for more advice.

      Rgds

      Dr Tan
      Join us on http://www.askdrtan.com

  8. Giovani

    Hi doc, I seldom fart and I also have weird feeling not much but I can feel it, so its the gastro what is the treatment for this. Any suggestion. Tx

    • Hi Giovani,

      Apologies. I do not really get your question. You are worried that you seldom fart? And what is this ‘weird feeling’ that you have?

      rgds

      Dr Tan

      • hello do im having a acid reflux and i have the feeling of chocking and honestly its irritating… i have already take so many kind of medicine and and im still not better..my currently medicine im taking now is DEXLANSOPRAZOLE DEXILANT 60MG.

        • and im almost 4 month now im in medication but still the same i still have the feeling of chocking..and my doctor is from Mt. Elizabeth Hospital.

          • and also i went for endoscopy and everything is ok my endoscopy is clear the only problem i’m having is my chocking feeling and its really irritating and spoil my day everyday .

          • Go back to speak to your doctor. Aside from medicines there are also surgical options to treat reflux. Discuss with your doctor if you are a candidate for any of these surgeries.

          • thank you so much i will ask him.my next appointment end of this month so im really ask him about that ..thank you MR.DRTAN.

        • Hi, Doc. Is there a better medicine than what i am taking now? I am almost up to my last prescription but the symptoms remain the same – like I am not on any medication. What is the chances of a full recovery if I choose to go for the surgery option? It is really affecting my life. Thank you

          • I really cannot answer these questions on this blog. These questions require a proper medical consultation. There are many different medicines to treat GERD. Your doctor is the best person to determine which one is best for you. You are obviously welcome to visit us. Click here for location info. As for the success of the surgery, again it is something that the surgeon doing the operation for you has to decide and advise on.

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