A lot of us have endured the occasional bout of acid indigestion after a meal. However, persistent heartburn could hint at a more serious problem. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux is thought to affect 35 percent of Americans. If you think you may be suffering from this condition, it’s crucial to seek treatment from a board-certified gastroenterologist like the ones at La Peer Health Systems’ Reflux Surgery Center of Excellence.
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About Acid Reflux
Although you may think heartburn is a fact of life, habitual reflux could hint at the presence of a more serious condition like GERD or Barrett’s esophagus. Understanding acid reflux can help you determine when to seek treatment or find out about an acid reflux diagnosis.
Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter muscle in the stomach fails to close completely, thereby allowing the contents of the stomach to slide back up into the esophagus. Not only can stomach acid cause heartburn, but it may also result in serious symptoms which, left untreated, can lead to permanent damage to the esophagus.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
If you are experiencing any of the following reflux symptoms, consider scheduling an appointment at the Reflux Surgery Center:
- Sensation of food caught behind the breastbone
- Persistent heartburn
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Nausea after eating
The following are less common symptoms of acid reflux:
- Regurgitation of food
- Coughing or wheezing
- Trouble swallowing
- Sore throat
- Voice changes or hoarseness
The symptoms of acid reflux can take a serious toll on your life and affect your ability to perform daily activities. Fortunately, help exists for reflux sufferers.
Help for Patients with GERD
For patients with GERD that are experiencing mild or intermittent acid indigestion, lifestyle changes may help alleviate suffering and improve overall esophageal health.
The doctors at the Reflux Surgery Center of Excellence advise heartburn sufferers to drop extra pounds and eat smaller meals, while avoiding foods known to cause heartburn.
Generally, reflux patients should stay away from fried or fatty foods as well as chocolates while also cutting out alcohol and cigarettes. They may also want to try over-the-counter antacids, H-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. Our gastroenterologists will remind you to always consult with your doctor before trying any new medications.
Although lifestyle changes and home treatments can be beneficial for people with occasional reflux, patients who suffer frequent heartburn may need to undergo further testing and treatment to protect their esophageal health.
Acid Reflux FAQ
Q: Isn’t heartburn normal?
A: While occasional indigestion is not uncommon, regular acid reflux could have a negative effect on your digestive health. If you suffer from reflux more than twice a week, you should see a gastroenterologist for testing.
Q: What causes GERD?
A: Check out this expanded page on the causes of acid reflux.
Q: What are the dangers associated with untreated acid reflux?
A: If left untreated, GERD can result in a number of health complications including ulcers and esophagitis. In rare cases, GERD can lead to Barrett’s esophagus and even esophageal cancer.
Q: What are the most common symptoms associated with acid reflux?
A: People who experience heartburn more than twice a week or wake up at night with indigestion may in fact be suffering from GERD.
Q: Do certain foods cause heartburn?
A: Consuming some foods and beverages may contribute to acid reflux. People with chronic heartburn may want to avoid fried or fatty foods, coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, and juices.
Contact the Reflux Surgery Center of Excellence
If you’re experiencing more persistent reflux, or if you think you might be suffering from GERD, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. Caused by constant exposure to stomach acid, Barrett’s disease results in esophageal cancer in a small number of patients. Seeking reflux treatment early can help prevent these conditions as well as promote good esophageal health.
The gastroenterologists at the Reflux Surgery Center host patients in a newly remodeled facility in the heart of Los Angeles. To schedule your appointment, call (888) 593-1042.
Next, learn about the causes of acid reflux.