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What is Gerd?

GERD refers to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. When the muscles in your lower esophagus become weak. this valve can stop closing properly and the contents of the stomach may leak back. or "reflux," into the esophagus. Over time. GERO can lead to more serious health problems.

Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD. When acid in the stomach refluxes, it touches the lining of the esophagus. This can cause a burning feeling in your chest or throat. We call this sensation heartburn or acid indigestion. More than 61million Americans experience heartburn each month, and you can have heartburn once in a while without having GERD. But if you have heartburn more than twice a week, it's likely you have GERD.

In addition, if you find yourself clearing your throat often, have trouble swallowing, feeling like food is stuck in your throat, experience burning in your mouth, and have pain in your chest, or if you use antacids for more than two weeks, you should talk to your doctor.

You should first look at your lifestyle, since avoiding reflux may be as simple as making some dietary changes. And most people can find relief for this very uncomfortable, burning sensation by taking over­ the-counter medications, such as antacids. The next step would be prescription drugs. But for some people, when drug therapy has failed, the final solution may be surgery.

Traditionally, surgery for GERD was performed through open incisions and could involve lengthy hospital stays. This often excluded some patients, especially older individuals. The hospital stay could be between five and 10 days, depending on the patient and condition.

However, one of the newest ways to help patients with GERD is through minimally invasive surgery. With this procedure, tiny incisions are used so that the surgeon can repair the faulty valve, and usually only involves an overnight stay. Minimally invasive surgery has excellent long-term and short-term outcomes, and many patients are good candidates for this type of procedure.

UPMC offers expertise on a wide range of treatments for GERD. In fact, UPMC has treated more patients with GERD than any place in North America. UPMC's experts tailor their GERD treatments to every patient, and use innovative techniques to treat even the most complex cases, including patients who have often been told they can't be helped. These highly experienced physicians are found at the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute, and they take pride in helping patients who feel like they are out of options. The techniques they employ are focused on faster recoveries and less pain.

To learn more about how patients are being given hope by the experienced, nationally recognized GERD experts at the UPMC Esophageal and Lung Surgery Institute, call 412-647-7555 or visit UPMC.com/ELSI.

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