Last Edited: April 17th, 2012

Coupons for Prevacid

Nearly 5 out of every 1,000 people in the U.S. are affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) each year. Among prevention and treatment options is Prevacid, which can be used for short term treatment and diagnosis of GERD. Left untreated, GERD can lead to more serious and potentially fatal health conditions.

Keeping Your Lunch: LES Clips the Stomach Bag

When eating, swallowed food and fluid are transported through a tube, the esophagus, from mouth to stomach. The muscle ring at the base of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), serves as a valve that constricts the opening separating the stomach and the esophagus. The LES stops enzymes, bile, and stomach acid from back tracking into the esophagus to burn and inflame sensitive esophagus tissue.

The diaphragm is a muscle wall separating the chest and the stomach. In a healthy person, the diaphragm is instrumental in helping the LES prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus.

What Goes Down, Comes Up: Acid Reflux

Anatomical abnormalities in the structure or functioning of the LES or the stomach structure may cause reflux. Consequently, stomach contents rise back up into the esophagus, causing reflux or regurgitation. Along with stomach food, digestive acids also rise into the esophagus. Thus, GER is often referred to as “acid regurgitation” or “acid reflux.”

Anatomical Abnormalities

Reflux may result from abnormal LES, a faulty gastric reflux expulsion from the esophagus, or a hiatal hernia. A hernia, detectable by barium swallow radiography x ray, dislocates the stomach and prevents the diaphragm from supporting the LES function.

LES Loses Its Grip

The LES may malfunction by:

  • Failing to completely close off the opening between esophagus and stomach.
  • Spontaneously and sporadically opening.
  • Abnormally relaxing while the esophagus is working.

GERD Diagnosis

GER, which is not unusual, does not automatically indicate GERD. When reflux consistently happens over twice per week, GERD is the diagnosis. GERD strikes all ages. Proton pump inhibitors such as Prevacid are used to diagnose and treat GERD.

GERD Symptoms

Fluid or food can be tasted at the back of the mouth during acid reflux, and the digestive acid may cause the throat or chest to feel a burn in the esophageal lining. Heartburn and regurgitation are typical GERD symptoms. Heartburn or acid indigestion most commonly occurs in the middle part of the stomach, below the breast bone or in the area below the middle of the chest. Those with GERD may have asthma symptoms, a dry cough or find swallowing difficult. Heartburn may be absent.

Gateway Digestive Disease

GERD can be the gateway to more chronic illness including esophagus injury such as inflammation, narrowing, scarring, bleeding, ulcers and cancer.

Guard Against GERD

Lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery can prevent and treat acid reflux.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Change what you eat. Avoid acid and rich food and beverages, which may promote GERD or aggravate symptoms. Avoid chocolate, caffeine or alcohol drinks, tea, citrus fruits, fried food, fatty food, garlic, mint flavor, onions, and tomato foods such as sauces, chili, pizza and salsa.
  • Change how you eat. Eat small, frequent meals not large ones to reduce excess acid.
  • Change when you eat. Do not eat 2 to 3 hours before sleep. After eating wait 3 hours before lying down.
  • Change to lower weight, if obese. Change to looser clothes.
  • Pressure applied to the abdomen can push acidic stomach contents to the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Sleep on your left side to position the stomach below the esophagus.


Consult your health care provider for medication that prevents acid production, helps increase LES strength, or boosts speed of emptying stomach contents. Prevacid, for example, a proton pump inhibitor, relieves symptoms, heals the esophageal lining and produces better results than other medication.