For some people, managing gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) is not a major issue. They may experience some issues and periods of discomfort, but for the most part, their GERD does not severely reduce their quality of life.
This is not true for patients who suffer from severe forms of GERD. If you suffer from GERD, it is important that you understand how the condition progresses and the issues it produces as it progresses.
Understanding the different stages of GERD will help you recognize when it is time to seek out new treatments that can adequately manage your GERD. The progression of GERD can be broken down into four stages.
This stage is known as mild GERD. Patients who are currently in stage 1 only have minor damage in their lower esophageal sphincter. These patients experience heartburn and other issues infrequently. Some patients in stage 1 may be able to tolerate the discomfort caused by GERD, while others may use medication to help them manage symptoms.
During stage 2, patients experience a significant increase in the severity of their symptoms. The pain is no longer tolerable without some form of medication, and many of the over-the-counter options available to them are capable of providing the relief they need. Patients in stage 2 should consider seeking out a specialist to help them manage the issue.
Stage 3 is when GERD is considered to be a severe issue that causes a noticeable decrease in the patient’s quality of life. The damage to the lower esophageal sphincter is severe, and the symptoms being experience by the patient can no longer be properly addressed with prescription medications. Patients in stage 3 are at a higher risk of experiencing other issues as a results of their severe GERD and should seek out immediate help from a specialist.
Stage 4 of GERD is when noticeable changes to the affected tissues are most likely to occur due to years of repeated damage. This is the stage when severe conditions like dysplasia and Barrett’s esophagus are most like to form. In some cases, esophageal cancer may form at this stage.
Patients who cannot cure GERD through lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications are candidates for GERD treatment. Patients with at least Stage 2 GERD symptoms are considered candidates. GERD treatment must be considered if patients are suffering severe symptoms.
The best candidates for GERD treatment are committed to changing their lifestyles to reduce the risk of GERD progression.
During your consultation, we will discuss the symptoms you experience and make sure that you have been correctly diagnosed with GERD.
We will conduct a detailed examination to determine which stage of GERD you are experiencing. We will also check your medical history and the medications you take for GERD.
If we determined that you are a candidate for GERD treatments instead of OTC medications or remedies, we will create the best treatment plan to help treat the GERD you are suffering from.
The treatment for GERD will vary depending on the severity of the condition. Stage 1 and Stage 2 GERD patients will get prescription medication and guidelines for lifestyle changes. Severe cases of GERD will require the patient to undergo surgery depending on the treatment plan and symptoms.
After the surgery to treat GERD, the patient will undergo a recovery process. Prescriptions and post-surgery instructions will be provided to ensure a smooth recovery for the patient. The patient will be advised to avoid certain beverages and food not only during the recovery but in years to come.
If you need help managing your mild GERD, preventing the progression of your GERD, or treating your severe GERD, please contact SOFI Institute of Esophageal and Reflux Surgery today to schedule a consultation. We can provide you with the personalized care you need.