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Gastroenterology Blog

Answering Your Most Common Acid Reflux Questions

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Tue, Mar 26, 2019 @ 9:51 AM

acid reflux faq

Acid reflux and heartburn are common complaints that we have all experienced at one time or another.  Most understand that the burning sensation of reflux is a direct result of rising stomach acid.  However, there are many other questions to which the answers are not so clear.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding acid reflux, and the answers that patients should know:

 

What is the difference between heartburn and acid reflux disease?

Heartburn is very common and is experienced by most people from time to time. People who have acid reflux or heartburn more than twice a week are defined as having acid reflux disease, which is also known as gastroesophageal disease or GERD.

What causes acid reflux disease?

Acid reflux is caused by the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus (the lower esophageal sphincter or LES) failing to close properly, or opening at the wrong time. This can happen because the LES is weaker than it should be. Acid reflux disease can also be caused by a hiatal hernia, in which part of the stomach moves so that it is above the diaphragm. Being overweight can increase the risk of hiatal hernia and GERD. Pregnancy also increases the risk.

How does diet affect acid reflux disease?

Acid reflux is often made worse by the following types of food.

•             Foods that are high in fat

•             Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits

•             Spicy foods

•             Peppermint (mint relaxes the LES)

•             Alcohol

•             Caffeine

•             Chocolate

To reduce acid reflux through diet, avoid the foods listed above, eat small, frequent meals, and do not eat within the three hours before you go to bed. Lying down after eating makes it easier for digestive juices to escape the stomach.

What medications can I use to treat acid reflux disease?

You can relieve the burning sensation caused by acid reflux by taking over-the-counter antacids, such as calcium carbonate tablets (Tums). Antacids neutralize the acid so it is less irritating to the esophagus. However, they are only a temporary solution.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach. You can buy small dosages of some PPIs without a prescription. Your gastroenterologist can prescribe a higher dosage and may tell you to take the tablets on a regular basis.

How should I take PPIs to control acid reflux disease?

Proton pump inhibitors work most effectively when taken every day. The typical directions are to take one pill per day, around half an hour before eating breakfast. You should take your prescribed medication according to the instructions given by your gastroenterologist.

What are the side effects of medications for acid reflux?

Antacids usually contain either calcium or magnesium salts. Calcium can cause constipation and magnesium can cause diarrhea. Taking an antacid that contains both calcium and magnesium can help to prevent these side effects.

Most people who take PPIs do not have side effects. However, some people experience nausea, headaches, constipation or diarrhea. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about side effects of PPIs.

Can I take PPIs with other medications?

Avoid taking PPIs at the same time as antacids. Antacids can prevent medications from being absorbed properly. If you need to take both antacids and another medicine, try to space them out by a few hours.

If you are prescribed PPIs, you must tell your gastroenterologist if you are taking warfarin (a blood-thinning medication) or phenytroin (for epilepsy). PPIs can interfere with these medications.

What if PPIs don't work for me?

In most cases, PPIs effectively reduce acid reflux and allow the esophagus to heal. If PPIs are not effective for you, your gastroenterologist might prescribe prokinetics, which encourage your stomach to empty more quickly.  In severe cases, surgery may be required to strengthen the LES.

Gastroenterology Associates are extensively trained and experienced in the diagnosis of GERD or acid reflux disease.  Making an appointment is the first step to getting relief from acid reflux disease.  Contacting our office is simple and you can reach us through our online request or call us here.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: Acid Reflux, Gastroenterologists

Steps to Keep Heartburn Under Control

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jul 30, 2018 @ 2:48 PM

controlling heartburnHeartburn is very common and brings discomfort to millions.  The condition is the result of stomach acid backing up into the esophagus, and it can produce a burning sensation in the throat or chest.  Other common symptoms include sore throat, coughing, hoarseness, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn, it is important to draw connections between certain behaviors or foods that seem to trigger the condition.  Identifying these can be key to treating your case effectively. For most patients, successful heartburn relief includes some or all of the following:

Make Dietary Changes to Prevent Heartburn

Foods that are high in acid such as citrus, fruits, and tomato products are often contributors to heartburn, as are fatty foods and alcohol.  Sufferers may also find that eating large meals triggers their symptoms.  In this case, eating smaller meals throughout the day and taking care to not eat too quickly may help.

Know When Not to Eat for Heartburn

While heartburn can strike at any time, there are some specific times throughout the day when you may find the symptoms to be at their worst.  Eating just before exercise or periods of increased physical activity, for instance, can often prompt the familiar burning sensation.  Likewise, eating just before bedtime can make for a long and uncomfortable night.  Before hitting the gym or lying down, give your body a full two hours to fully digest your most recent meal.  You may also find it helpful to sleep in a slightly elevated position with pillows to support you.

Chew Sugar Free Gum after Meals

Gum increases salivary gland production which can help to neutralize the acids in your stomach and digestive tract.

Rule out Medications as the Heartburn Culprit

Several medications including anti-depressants, hormone therapy, antibiotics and many more can cause symptoms that may include heartburn. If you notice heartburn begins when you start using a certain medication, make sure that your healthcare provider is aware of your side effects.

Manage Your Weight to Prevent Heartburn

Individuals who are overweight are at a higher risk of experiencing acid reflux.  In many cases, weight loss can make a significant positive impact in a patient’s symptoms.

Gastroenterology Associates can help diagnose and treat chronic heartburn. If you are exhibiting symptoms and want help keeping them under control, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Topics: Acid Reflux

How to Have a Reflux-Free Holiday Season in Baton Rouge

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 4:56 PM

how-to-have-a-reflux-free-holiday-season-in-baton-rouge.jpegAs we turn the corner toward Christmas, the holiday festivities kick into high gear. With all of the soirees, potlucks, and parties, it’s hard to resist the platters piled high with delicious foods…even when you know they may cause you discomfort later on. But if you struggle with heartburn or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), you’re considerably more likely to deal with painful acid reflux and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Are you suffering from GERD or Heartburn?

That’s why we’ve compiled these tips for managing your reflux and keeping the cheer in your holiday season.

Let’s check it out.

Don’t constrict your stomach: Sure, wearing bodycon dresses or tight pants may prevent you from overeating. But constricting your stomach during digestion can actually make heartburn more likely. So when you sit down to a holiday meal, make sure you’re dressed for comfort, not constriction.

Is that veggie right for you? You'd be surprised the things that aggravate and calm acid reflux. When filling up your plate, reach first for these heartburn-friendly vegetables: carrots, cabbage, peas, broccoli, and green beans. Ginger (less than 4 grams per day) can help ease heartburn and pairs well with root vegetables.  Steer clear of heavily spiced foods, as well as tomatoes, onions, garlic, and citrus.

Choose your carbs carefully: Mild carbohydrates like multigrain, whole wheat, corn, white breads, and oatmeal are good choices when avoiding heartburn. Specialty breads like jalapeño cheddar rolls or rich buttery croissants can aggravate your reflux, so think twice before blindly choosing from the bread basket.

Be selective: If you don’t absolutely love cornbread dressing, pass it up. By forgoing the likes and sticking to moderate portions of the loves, you’ll create a meal that satisfies your tastebuds and your appetite, without overfilling either.

Limit dairy products when building your plate: The less fat the better, so baked potatoes (with a small amount of low-fat sour cream and limited butter) are less likely to trigger heartburn than mashed potatoes. Stay away from macaroni and cheese—it is known for causing acid reflux.

Skip the skin: White meat, such as turkey or chicken breast, is less oily, lower in fat, and less likely to trigger acid reflux. But the skin of poultry contains high levels of fat that can counteract 

Step away from the chocolate fountain: You’ve made good choices throughout the meal and you can end the meal on the right note by choosing your after-dinner digestives carefully. Chocolate, coffee, and alcohol are all known acid reflux triggers, so if you’re craving a little something extra after the holiday meal, aim for lighter options, like angel food cake or a fruit and yogurt parfait.

And of course…

Keep moving: Hop on the dancefloor, jump on a bike, or take a leisurely after-meal stroll. Staying active for thirty minutes following your meal can aid in digestion and prevent uncomfortable, painful reflux.

While these tips can help prevent heartburn during the holidays, it’s important to regularly consult with your gastroenterologist about your GERD symptoms and reflux treatment options. To schedule a consultation with the gastroesophageal specialists of Louisiana, call the Gastroenterology Associates at (225) 927-1190 or contact us here.

 6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux

Heartburn or GERD: How do you know?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 @ 1:50 PM

GERD-burn-sm.jpgThe symptoms of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are fairly similar, although they differ in their severity and persistence. Both conditions are caused by reflux of acid from the stomach into the lower portion of the esophagus. However, GERD is a chronic condition in which heartburn occurs two to three times a week or more, while having occasional reflux on its own is not usually a cause for concern. 

Heartburn vs GERD

Heartburn refers to a burning or uncomfortable situation in the chest that tends to occur after eating, as a result of acid reflux. If you experience heartburn, it can be difficult to know whether you are experiencing a normal amount of acid reflux or if your symptoms may be a sign of GERD. Some factors that may distinguish GERD from heartburn include:

  • Having heartburn 2-3 times a week or more for more than 2 weeks
  • Heartburn feels worse or is more frequent than in the past
  • Heartburn associated with difficulty swallowing or hoarseness
  • Symptoms persist even after taking over-the-counter medication
  • Waking up at night due to heartburn
  • Symptoms that interfere with your lifestyle or activities

If you are experiencing any of the above issues, your heartburn should be evaluated by a physician. 

Diagnosis

To determine whether or not you have GERD, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, ask you about your medical history, and perform a physical examination. From there, the physician may order a number of diagnostic tests, including:

  • A pH probe test, which evaluates how acidic the esophagus is over a certain period of time
  • An upper GI tract x-ray, which gives a non-invasive view of the structure of the esophagus and stomach
  • Endoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the esophagus and stomach
  • Esophageal motility testing, or manometry, which evaluates how much the esophagus moves

You may or may not need some of these tests, depending on your symptoms.

Importance of Treatment for GERD

GERD is a significant medical condition that requires treatment. Because GERD causes the esophagus to be frequently exposed to acid stomach secretions that it is not equipped to withstand, the condition can lead to a number of serious conditions if left untreated. Potential complications include narrowing of the esophagus or the development of Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition. 

Most of the time, GERD can be treated with a combination of medication, either over-the-counter or prescription, and lifestyle changes. Together, these treatments can alleviate symptoms and prevent future episodes of acid reflux. In severe cases, surgical treatment may be required.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux

Things That Aggravate and Calm Acid Reflux

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 @ 11:10 AM

If you’ve ever experienced a burning sensation in your chest or throat, you’re not alone. Heartburn is one of the main symptoms of a condition known as acid reflux, which affects roughly 60 million people in the US at least once a month, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Acid reflux occurs when digestive stomach acids back up into your esophagus, causing discomfort. You can prevent acid reflux from occurring by knowing what aggravates it, such as certain types of foods, activities and situations. 

 Foods

Some types of foods cause heartburn, mainly due to a high acidic content. Foods to limit or avoid when you have acid reflux include:

  • foods_that_cause_GERDCitrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Spicy foods
  • Peppermint
  • High-fat foods, such as nuts, cheese, meat and avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Foods and beverages with caffeine, such as coffee and soda

 Keep in mind that eating big meals or lying down right after eating can also lead to acid reflux, especially if you’ve eaten acidic or fatty foods. Eating too close to bedtime, even if it’s just a small snack, can also trigger this condition. 

Even if you take medication to control acid reflux, the above foods contain acid and may exacerbate your symptoms.

 Smoking

Smoking cigarettes can increase your risk of having acid reflux. The nicotine in these products can cause the muscles in your esophagus to relax, making it easier for stomach acids to get through. Cigarettes can also cause your stomach to produce more acid. 

Stress

Stress can make you more susceptible to having acid reflux. When you’re stressed, your body starts making higher amounts of acid, increasing your risk of heartburn and other symptoms of acid reflux. Not getting enough sleep, which is a common effect of stress, can also result in higher acid levels. 

Alcohol

Drinking any type of alcohol can trigger acid reflux. Having alcohol along with a big meal can make your symptoms even worse. 

If you’re already dealing with acid reflux, knowing what can calm it will provide you with relief. Consider making the following changes or adopting the following techniques to help ease heartburn. 

 Meditation

meditation-yoga-for-GERDMeditation offers an effective way to relieve stress that can cause acid reflux. It can be done in several ways, but the most basic is sitting in a quiet spot and focusing on a single object, such as a candle flame. Meditation can help you find a sense of inner peace that makes it easier to cope with stress. 

Yoga

Doing yoga provides you with another way to relieve stress and also get some physical activity. Yoga involves bringing your body and mind into balance through a series of stretches and specific postures. It has the added benefit of helping you lose weight, which can help prevent acid reflux.

 Dietary Changes 

While there are plenty of foods that trigger acid reflux, there are also several foods that can ease its symptoms. Include the following foods in your diet if you suffer from heartburn:

  • Oatmeal
  • Bananas 
  • Melons
  • Rice
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and other green vegetables
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish
  • Egg whites

Weight loss

Being overweight can increase your risk of having acid reflux. You can reduce this risk by losing excess weight through a combination of regular physical activity and healthy eating. 

Abdominal Breathing Exercises 

A 2014 study found that switching breathing from thoracic to abdominal strengthened the diaphragm and in turn the LES.  Improvements in GERD symptoms were noted, and for patients seeking an alternative to medication, abdominal therapy is a viable option.

Lifestyle Changes 

Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking and avoiding alcohol, are effective ways to avoid these acid reflux triggers. 

 If you suffer from persistent or severe acid reflux, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Contact Gastroenterology Associates to make an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists, so to establish treatment options and to start down the path towards better digestive health care.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux and Eosinophillic Esophagitis

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Aug 03, 2015 @ 1:16 PM

GERD_esop_and_stomAcid reflux and eosinophillic esophagitis (EE or EoE) are medical problems that affect a large number of Americans. Both children and adults suffer from these ailments, which can cause a large amount of discomfort when it comes time to eat and digest.  Acid Reflux, or GERD, and eosinophilic esophagitis have similar symptoms and are EoE is commonly mistaken for GERD.

What is Eosinophilic Esophagitis?

Your esophagus is the large tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Those who suffer from eosinophilic esophagitis experience an inflammation of the esophagus, which can result in a problem with swallowing. The reason for this inflammation is large numbers of white blood cells, specifically ones called eosinophils, being congregated within the esophagus.

Symptoms of eosiniophilic esophagitis typically include:

  • Poor weight gain also called “failure to thrive”
  • Refusal to eat (in children)
  • Vomiting following meals
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing , called dysphagia
  • Pain or discomfort with swallowing,  referred to as odynophagia
  • Food impaction (lodged in the esophagus)
  • Coughing
  • Chest, throat, or abdominal pain

Interestingly, although all people can develop this condition, it is most commonly found in adult men and young boys. There has been rising incidence of EoE over the past few years, and more pediatricians, internists, and primary care physicians are becoming aware of and recognizing the disease.  It is often at that point that the patient is referred to a gastroenterologist for an endoscopic exam or biopsy. 

 What Causes Eosinophilic Esophagitis? 

There are many reasons why an individual might develop eosinophilic esophagitis. Several studies point to allergens in food for the development of eosinophilic esophagitis. The main reason for associating EoE with allergies is that eosinophils are found in high numbers in a large amount of other allergy-related conditions such as hay fever, asthma, and atopic dermatitis. 

Many believe that the most common reason for one to develop this condition is due to acid reflux. This assumption is incorrect, and EoE stands as a distinct disease whereby an allergic reaction in the esophageal lining occurs when exposed to allergens like food or pollen.

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is another common problem affecting 1 in 5 Americans. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter allows stomach acids to escape back into the esophagus.  Acid reflux could be a persistent problem, or one that only occurs when the wrong foods or substances are ingested.

GERD-burn-smAcid reflux is caused when foods, drinks, or medications are ingested. If foods have a low pH balance, meaning they are acidic, then acid reflux can take hold. Other risk factors for acid reflux or GERD are being overweight or obese, smoking, lying down soon after eating, pregnancy, and taking aspirin, Ibuprofen, muscle relaxers or blood pressure medications.

Those who suffer from acid reflux often experience heartburn, a burning in their chest, rising up through their esophagus. The most common symptoms of acid reflux (GERD) are:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation (the feeling of vomit or acid in the back of the mouth/throat)
  • Cough
  • Feeling a lump in the throat
  • Increased production of saliva
  • Laryngitis and hoarseness
  • Bad Breath

Treatment of acid reflux/GERD can be accomplished a number of ways. The first one typically recommended are lifestyle changes- get to a healthy weight, reduce consumption of foods and drinks that aggravate the condition, and stop smoking.  Beyond these, acid reflux treatments are available over the counter for infrequent issues, but for ongoing (chronic) sufferers, a physician will usually prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to curb the amount of acid produced and escaping the stomach.

Sometimes, a family history of swallowing problems or history of other allergic conditions in the patient, such as asthma, may also prompt consideration of eosinophilic esophagitis.

Is There Anything to do to Treat Eosinophilic Esophagitis? 

Fortunately, there are number of great ways to treat this condition. The most common practice for treating patients with eosinophilic esophagitis is through a process of dilating the esophagus and administering medicine. 

The process of gentle esophageal dilation moves or fractures the strictures of the esophagus, allowing for an easier passage for food. This can make patients who have had trouble swallowing feel much better, and allow them to eat without fear of discomfort or pain. The esophageal dilation needs to be done very carefully in patients with eosinophilic esophagitis, as opposed to other patients with swallowing problems.

What Else Can Be Done to Prevent Eosinophilic Esophagitis? 

There are many ways that an individual can try to prevent eosinophilic esophagitis from persisting or popping up again after being eliminated. An easy way to go about this is through the process of an elimination diet.

An elimination diet is a common practice with those who might be developing an allergic reaction to certain kinds of foods. A great way to begin is by going to see an allergist and have them analyze your blood. They will administer a series of tests over the course of time to see if there is one specific thing that is causing your reaction.

Another way to take part in an elimination diet is by paying attention to what you eat. Slowly weed out items from your daily diet that are large problems in the world of allergies. This includes dairy, soy, peanuts or tree nuts, shellfish, eggs and wheat.

The difference between acid reflux and eosinophilic esophagitis is noted at microscopic examination of the tissue specimens obtained from the esophagus at endoscopy. Sometimes this is suspected, especially when a patient has had intermittent (sometimes infrequent) episodes of food getting stuck in the esophagus requiring ER visits for removal. Although some patients with eosinophilic esophagitis may improve with medication given for controlling acid, an accurate diagnosis may help in preventing future complications. 

Gastroenterologists Are the Experts

When it comes to anything related to your digestive tract (which includes the stomach and esophagus), the physicians specializing in this field are gastroenterologists. They are specially trained and educated in assessing, diagnosing, and treating conditions of the gastrointestinal (GI) system. If you have been experiencing symptoms of EoE or GERD, schedule a consult with one of the 17 board certified gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Associates. It can mean the difference between a course of action leading to resolution of the symptoms or just masking symptoms!

 6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

 

Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux, Esophagus

What Are Proton Pump Inhibitors and How do They Work?

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 @ 9:54 AM

 

 

proton pump inhibitor

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You may be diagnosed with GERD if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week. Proton pump inhibitors can help to reduce the symptoms of GERD and prevent complications from arising.

 

What Is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly, or opens at inappropriate times, allowing the contents of the stomach to rise up into the esophagus. This reflux can be very painful because the stomach acid creates a burning sensation in the soft lining of the esophagus, which you may feel as heartburn, acid indigestion, or burning in the back of the throat. Other symptoms of GERD include a dry cough, trouble swallowing, or symptoms similar to asthma.

 

Why Are PPIs Recommended For GERD?

Proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of stomach acid. This means that when the stomach contents are released into the esophagus, less irritation is caused to the delicate esophageal lining. You will experience less heartburn and burning in your throat as a result.

Repeated gastroesophageal reflux can cause damage to the esophagus, leading to inflammation, ulcers or bleeding. Proton pump inhibitors help to prevent these GERD complications by reducing the acidity of the stomach contents. If you already have damage to your esophagus due to GERD, your doctor might recommend that you take proton pump inhibitors to give your esophagus chance to heal.

 

How Do PPIs Work?

 

Gastric acid is produced by cells in the wall of the stomach. PPIs block this production by binding to enzymes in these cells to prevent them from releasing hydrogen ions (protons) into the stomach. The mechanism that produces stomach acid is known as the gastric proton pump, which is why PPIs are referred to as proton pump inhibitors.

Once you stop taking proton pump inhibitors, acid production will return to normal levels, as the deactivated enzymes are continuously replaced by new ones. A gastroenterologist can advise you about long-term options to manage GERD symptoms, which may include taking PPIs continuously, changing your diet or lifestyle, or having surgery to strengthen the valve that keeps stomach contents contained within the stomach.

 

How to Take PPIs for GERD

If your gastroenterologist prescribes PPIs to relieve GERD, he or she will give you advice on how to take them. You should follow these instructions carefully. PPIs are most effective when taken before food. If you are taking only one pill per day, you will usually be advised to take it 30 minutes before your first meal. If this dosage does not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may advise you to take another pill before your evening meal.

Some proton pump inhibitor drugs are available without prescription. However, you should speak to your health care provider before starting a new medication regime.  The team of doctors at Gastroenterology Associates has the most experienced, largest team of board certified gastroenterologists in the region. 

Specialization and board certification in gastroenterology means that your digestive health is being managed by the most aptly suited physician, and GERD or acid reflux disease should certainly be addressed by an experienced gastroenterologist.  Contact the Gastroenterology Associates via online appointment request here or by phone here to schedule an appointment and evaluation of your acid reflux symptoms for proper treatment, possibly with a PPI.

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

board certified gastroenterologist

 Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

 

Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux, Gastroenterologists, Proton Pump Inhibitors

7 Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 @ 9:52 AM

symptoms of acid reflux

Most people have experienced the symptoms of heartburn at one time or another.  Perhaps you ate too much just before bed and awoke to a burning sensation in your chest.  You may have even had some regurgitation of stomach acid into your throat and mouth.  While unpleasant, these symptoms are easily treated with antacids or home remedies for most.  It’s only an occasional occurrence and is given little thought after the discomfort passes.  However, for sufferers of acid reflux disease, these symptoms and others can become a regular occurrence. 

When heartburn becomes more persistent, occurring two or more times a week, or if it is resistant to medications, it’s time to see a specialist.  Additionally, there are several other symptoms that may suggest acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  While these symptoms may not be as disruptive as heartburn, they also point to this chronic digestive disorder and should be addressed.

1.   Bloating and Belching

Frequent swallowing is common with a sore throat or when stomach acid begins to back up into the esophagus.  This made lead to swallowing more air, a feeling of being bloated, and frequent belching.

2.   Nausea

Some individuals with GERD may not experience heartburn at all.  Rather, they may experience symptoms such as nausea and even severe chest pains.

3.   Chest Pain

Chest pain in association with GERD is caused when stomach bile enters the esophagus.  This pain can sometimes be so severe that it is mistaken for a heart attack. It is critical that chest pain is never ignored and that medical attention is sought immediately when it occurs.

4.   Coughing and Wheezing

Respiratory symptoms are somewhat common with GERD.  Irritation to the throat and even stomach acid making its way into the lungs can lead to a chronic cough or wheezing.

5.   Difficulty Swallowing

Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, can appear when the continuous cycle of acid reflux causes scarring and narrowing of the esophagus.  Swallowing can become painful, and sufferers may feel as though they have a lump in their throat.

6.   Sore Throat

As with chest pains or difficulty swallowing, the repeated damage to the lining of the esophagus may also cause a persistent sore throat.  This may or may not also be accompanied by hoarseness of the voice.

7.   Hiccups

Hiccups occur with involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, which separates the chest from the abdomen, and are often found in conjunction with acid reflux.

If you find that you are suffering from any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it may be time to see your physician.  Even in the absence of typical heartburn sensations, it is possible to be suffering from GERD.  A specialist such as a gastroenterologist will be able to determine if your symptoms are due to GERD and can recommend treatment options to bring relief.

If you are ready to schedule an appointment with one of the Gastroenterology Associates physicians, or you would simply like more information on this condition, please contact our office.  To learn more about GERD, you may also click the image below for our free guide.

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

6 Reasons Not to Ignore GERD

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux, Gastroenterologists, Endoscopic Procedures

Acid Reflux Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Posted by Gastroenterology Associates on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 @ 9:50 AM

reasons not to ignore gerd

Acid reflux is a common problem that knows no limits of age, gender, or other demographics. Unlike general 'heartburn', acid reflux symptoms are not just caused by something you eat.

Acid Reflux Symptoms

In order to determine if you should be tested for the possibility of having acid reflux, consider the following potential symptoms:

•             Frequent heartburn - burning in the abdomen, chest, or throat

•             Bitter or sour acid taste backing up into your mouth, especially after eating

•             Hiccups that last more than a few minutes and occur frequently

•             Bloating

•             Narrowing of your esophagus that feels like food stuck in your throat (called    dysphagia)

•             Chronic, dry cough and sore throat or hoarseness

There are other symptoms, as well, but these are the most common and should lead you to pursue diagnosis from a medical professional.

How Are Acid Reflux Symptoms Diagnosed?

Doctors can use several methods to determine if you do, in fact, suffer from acid reflux disease. In many cases, simply monitoring the pH level in your esophagus will tell your doctor if your symptoms are related to acid reflux. You may also be asked to have an esophagram (in which you swallow barium as a contrast for x-ray purposes) or, in some severe cases, have an endoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into your upper digestive tract to search for a problem. During this procedure, the medical professional may also choose to take a biopsy of the tissue.

What Causes Acid Reflux Symptoms?

The technical term for the most common cause of acid reflux is 'hiatal hernia'. Within your esophagus resides a ring of muscle (or valve) know as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Typically, once food passes beyond this point, the LES closes so that acid cannot move up from your stomach into your esophagus. However, when this isn't the case, you get 'heartburn'. A hiatal hernia is when the LES and the upper part of your stomach move out of place, above your diaphragm, causing heartburn in frequency, which is then diagnosed as acid reflux disease.

Other common causes include:

•             Lying down too soon after eating

•             Eating large amounts of citrus, mint, garlicky, or spicy foods

•             Pregnancy

•             Obesity

•             Smoking

•             Taking certain types of medication (which increase acid production in the stomach)

•             Drinking alcohol, soda, tea, or coffee in large quantities

Avoiding & Treating Acid Reflux Symptoms

The first thing to do to avoid and reduce the occurrence of acid reflux, which can cause long-term issues like ulcers and even esophageal cancer, is to change your lifestyle. Some ways to help dispel the possibilities include:

•             Quitting smoking

•             Allowing at least 2-3 hours after eating before going to bed

•             Limiting spicy and acidic foods within your diet

•             Eating smaller, more frequent meals

•             Losing weight

Of course, it's also important to see your doctor about potential treatments. In severe cases, surgery may become an option, especially to repair a hiatal hernia that is a constant source of acid reflux symptoms and other pain. However, more commonly, antacids (such as Tums) purchased over the counter can combat infrequent symptoms in small quantities. You may also choose to use H2 blockers (such as Pepcid and Zantac) which decrease the production of acid.

If these aren't working, you should definitely consult with your doctor regarding prescription medications, such as Reglan, which can help to strengthen your LES, as well as cause your stomach to empty faster and therefore decrease the likelihood of acid backing up from your stomach into your esophagus.

The team of doctors at Gastroenterology Associates is extremely capable at detecting and diagnosing Acid Reflux Disease.  If you feel that you have symptoms of Acid Reflux, you should not ignore them and take action to reduce the impacts of the disease on your life and health.  Feel free to contact our staff for an appointment in our online appointment request or call us at the office.

Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician.    Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.

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Topics: GERD, Acid Reflux, Gastroenterologists, Endoscopic Procedures