Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by a muscle at the end of your esophagus not closing properly. This causes stomach contents to leak back into the esophagus and irritate it. It can affect babies, children and adults.

Symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn
  • Dry cough
  • Trouble swallowing

Alcohol and spicy, fatty or acidic food can trigger GERD symptoms. Some people can manage GERD by avoiding triggers, while others may need medication to control it. In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the problem.

Doctors Who Treat GERD

Initial diagnosis and treatment of GERD is usually done by the patient’s regular doctor. Depending on the gender and age of the patient, those providers may be:

  • Internists: Focus on prevention, discovery and treatment of adult illnesses.
  • Gerontologists: Focus on seniors and elder medicine.
  • Pediatricians: Focus on infants, children and adolescents.
  • Obstetricians and gynecologists: Focus on women’s health.
  • General Practitioners: Deal with prevention, discovery and treatment of illnesses in all age groups.

If GERD is severe or doesn’t respond to initial treatment, the patient may be referred to a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the digestive organs—for further evaluation.