January 30, 2012
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is the topic of this week's segment. Dr. William Tompkins of Blue Ridge Internal Medicine is tracking the condition and providing information this week.
GERD happens when stomach acid comes back up through the esophagus. Symptoms include heartburn, chronic hoarseness and cough.
Typically, GERD cannot be cured, but it can be managed. If GERD is an occasional problem, Dr. Tompkins says antacids like Tums or Maalox help immediately, but can wear off in a couple of hours.
For chronic GERD problems, histamine-2 blockers like Zantac and Pepcid work for mild heartburn and last about 12 hours.
If the condition is more severe a doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors, such as Aciphex, Prilosec or Nexium which can last from 12-24 hours.
Dr. Tompkins says the best way to prevent GERD is by keeping meals modest and not lying down with a full stomach. You should also avoid bending over, lifting heavy objects and wearing tight clothing around the stomach.
Also, if you're overweight, shedding about 5-10 pounds can improve symptoms.