Conditions We Treat: Acid Reflux & GERD
Also known as heartburn, acid reflux is the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus. This acid breaks down our food during digestion, so it is quite powerful. When it comes into contact with other areas of the body, pain, discomfort, and other symptoms typically follow. If these symptoms occur more than twice a week, you may be suffering from gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD.
What Causes Acid Reflux and GERD?
Acid reflux occurs when the valve that separates your esophagus from your stomach relaxes at inappropriate times or remains open for too long after you swallow food, allowing acid from the stomach to travel into the esophagus and throat. Since these tissues lack the protective mucus found in the stomach, prolonged contact with stomach acid can cause damage.
Some common triggers for acid reflux include obesity, smoking, anxiety, spicy foods, certain medications, hiatal hernias, and stress.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most recognizable symptom of GERD is a persistent burning sensation in the chest (heartburn). It may begin near the upper abdomen and radiate upward into the throat. Many patients mistake this for a heart attack, which can be extremely distressing. Episodes of acid reflux can last up to two hours and include the following:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Respiratory problems
- Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
Acid reflux is not usually considered a serious condition, but if you or your child are experiencing frequent or bothersome symptoms, Dr. Samadi will perform an exam and provide a referral to a specialist. Some tests for GERD, such as a barium swallow, need to be conducted by a radiologist. Other tests, such as endoscopies and esophageal manometry, need to be carried out by a gastroenterologist. If your reflux disrupts sleep or is not resolved by home remedies, seek medical assistance at the earliest opportunity. Swift treatment can prevent complications.
While some cases of GERD are severe enough to warrant surgical intervention, most treatments can be conducted at home. Based on the cause and severity of the reflux, we may recommend that patients make a few lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking, losing weight, and avoiding dietary triggers go a long way toward alleviating this condition and ensuring it doesn’t return.
Over-the-counter antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and H2 blockers are highly beneficial in alleviating symptoms. Please contact us for recommendations.