Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease often referred to as GERD is a common health condition affecting adults and the elderly as well as other age groups. Badillo and Francis (2014) note that up to 20% of people living in the western world can face this health issue. GERD is a set of “symptoms or mucosal damage produced by the abnormal reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus or beyond, into the oral cavity (including larynx) (Badillo & Francis, 2014, p. 105). This paper includes a brief description of symptoms, assessment tools, diagnostic tests, and treatment.
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The most frequent symptoms of GERD include acid regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, heartburn (especially intense after eating or at night), nausea, sensing a lump in one’s throat (Badillo & Francis, 2014). People suffering from GERD can also experience sleep disorders, asthma, dental erosions, and chronic cough. Such groups as obese or overweight people, the elderly, and pregnant women are specifically prone to the development of this disorder. The major signs can be affected by certain kinds of medication as symptoms can be “aggravated by recumbency and relieved by acid lowering medications” (Badillo & Francis, 2014, p. 105). illness in question is often associated with unhealthy dietary habits and lifestyles.
As for available screening tools, physical exam, the analysis of patients’ medical history, as well as their dietary habits are common steps undertaken by healthcare professionals. Badillo and Francis (2014) state that esophageal pH monitoring, endoscopy, acid suppression response are effective tests that can help in diagnosing GERD. These assessment strategies and tests can be used in various combinations. Importantly, the symptoms of the disorder may be similar to the signs of other health conditions, which can make diagnosing rather difficult.
When it comes to treatment, it can be both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic. Some common pharmacologic-based treatment plans involve the use of histamine-receptor antagonists, antacids, proton-pump inhibitors. The choice of the medication is often determined by the type of GERD or prevailing symptoms (Badillo & Francis, 2014). In some cases, surgery can be the most effective way to treat the disorder. This option is used in treating chronic conditions as other strategies are ineffective.
Non-pharmacologic treatment plans are developed irrespective of the severity of the illness. With mild symptoms, this kind of strategy can be effective. The development of proper diets and healthy lifestyle habits are crucial for such patients (Kubo, Block, Quesenberry, Buffler, & Corley, 2014). Kubo et al. (2014) stress that patients suffering from GERD tend to follow their doctors’ prescriptions, which is beneficial for the healing process and symptoms relief. Dossett et al. (2015) come up with another valuable finding. The researchers note that expanded visits to doctors positively correlate with the improvement of health in patients.
On balance, it is possible to note that GERD is a common health issue that can be diagnosed with the help of physical assessment and patients’ health habits analysis and the use of certain tests. The treatment used can be non-pharmacologic- or pharmacologic-based depending on the symptoms and their persistence. In many cases, a combination of both approaches is used. Recent studies show that psychological support is essential as patients tend to follow healthcare professionals’ prescriptions and instructions if the latter display empathy and pay more attention to patients’ peculiarities. Therefore, healthcare practitioners should try to expand the time they spend when communicating with GERD patients. It is important to encourage them to have healthy lifestyles through the focus on particular health outcomes in relation to their GERD symptoms.
Badillo, R., & Francis, D. (2014). Diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 5(3), 105-112.
Dossett, M., Mu, L., Davis, R., Bell, I., Lembo, A., Kaptchuk, T., & Yeh, G. (2015). Patient-provider interactions affect symptoms in gastroesophageal reflux disease: A pilot randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PLOS ONE, 10(9). Web.
Kubo, A., Block, G., Quesenberry, C., Buffler, P., & Corley, D. (2014). Dietary guideline adherence for gastroesophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterology, 14(1). Web.