Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Acid reflux happens when contents from your stomach move up into your esophagus. The esophagus is the long tube that’s responsible for moving food from the throat to the stomach. If you suffer from frequent heartburn and indigestion, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD.

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscle in the lower esophagus that opens up to allow passage between the stomach and esophagus. While many people will experience heartburn and indigestion several times throughout their life, people with GERD encounter it far more often – usually two or three times a week.

While there is not yet a cure for GERD, the symptoms can be managed and treated. Patients need to stay on top of symptom management, as GERD symptoms that are left unchecked can result in more serious problems such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

Medical Illustration Copyright © 2019 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.

Causes of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux. However, other conditions, traits or habits may also play a role in raising your risk for this disease. These conditions are known as risk factors and include:

Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing this disease.

  • Pregnancy
  • Certain congenital abnormalities (i.e. heart defects, neural tube defects, Down syndrome, among others).

Modifiable risk factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

  • Obesity or having a body mass index “BMI” of 30 or greater
  • Eating certain foods such as fatty or fried foods
  • Eating large meals or eating late at night
  • Excessive amounts of alcohol consumption over the years
  • History of cigarette smoking and/or drug abuse

Other conditions that contribute to GERD

  • Certain medications such as aspirin
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Autoimmune disease: a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma).

Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

As mentioned earlier, the primary symptoms of GERD are heartburn and indigestion. However, other common symptoms include the following:

  • A sour, bitter taste in the back of the mouth
  • Regurgitation (bringing food or liquids back up to the mouth)
  • Chest pain
  • Burning sensation in the chest after eating
  • Feeling a “lump” in the throat
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Worsened asthma symptoms

Diagnosis of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Your doctor will most likely perform a physical exam, ask about your symptoms, and ask about your risk factors, among others items. After that, you may have:

Diagnostic tests and procedures:

Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

The primary treatments for GERD are lifestyle and diet changes. Avoiding food and activities that cause heartburn can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life. If lifestyle changes and medications are not doing much to stop symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. This is a last resort treatment and should only be used when GERD is causing serious symptoms like bleeding and ulcers. Some treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

  • Avoid smoking
  • If overweight, talk to your doctor about some weight loss options
  • Remaining upright for three hours after a meal
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet
  • Exercise under the guidance of your doctor
  • Avoiding fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, peppermint, and acidic foods
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.


  • Antacids will help neutralize stomach acid
  • H-2 receptors blockers will help reduce acid production
  • Proton pump inhibitors will help block acid production and heal the esophagus
  • Medications to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter

Medical and Surgical procedures

  • Fundoplication

Patient Stories

  • “After three months, I went back to my workout classes. I’m so grateful to Dr. Levine. He’s our angel.”

    Read More
  • "Dr. Prasad did everything. Whether consulting, bandaging my foot or taking out stitches, I always felt like his mind was on me and me alone.”

    Read More
  • "There can’t be advances if we don’t have people willing to participate in clinical trials.”

    Read More

Patient Stories

  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial
  • Watch Testimonial
Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center
200 South Orange Avenue
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-7000
Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at RWJUH
200 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
Trinitas Regional Medical Center – Williamson Street Campus
225 Williamson St
Elizabeth, NJ 07202
(908) 994-5000
The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center
300 2nd Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 923-7250
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Jersey City Medical Center Outpatient Services at Colony Plaza
414 Grand Street
Suite 14
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 616-0470
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900
Short Hills Surgery Center
187 Millburn Avenue
Suite 102
Milburn, NJ 07041
(973) 671-0555
Hudson Crossing Surgery Center
2 Executive Drive
Suite 102
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
(201) 470-6977
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group at Monroe
800 Bunn Drive
Suite 303
Princeton, NJ 08540
(609) 655-5178

Thoracic Surgery Treatment & Care

offered at these locations in your neighborhood

View All Locations