If you’re experiencing persistent and painful heartburn or acid reflux more than once a week, you may have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. While GERD can be unpleasant and stubborn, there are a variety of treatment options. To learn more about your options, call the team at Tillman Medical Group, led by experienced gastroenterologists C. R. Tillman, MD, and Kellen Jex, MD, in Vidalia, Louisiana, or make an appointment online to visit their office today.
GERD, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition that occurs when excess stomach acid overflows into the bottom portion of the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach. This excess acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, and over time it can damage and injure this tissue, causing further complications.
While many people experience acid reflux or heartburn from time to time, people with GERD have painful moderate to severe acid reflux several times a week. Many people can manage their symptoms with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medication, but more severe cases require surgery or stronger medications.
Common signs and symptoms of GERD include:
Some people experience nighttime acid reflux, which can also cause laryngitis, chronic cough, new or worsening asthma, or disrupted sleep.
When you swallow, it causes a thin band of muscles called the sphincter, which sits at the bottom of the esophagus, to relax and allow food and liquid to pass into your stomach. The sphincter is then supposed to close and prevent acid from flowing into your esophagus.
Sometimes, the sphincter may be weakened, or it may not close properly, and acid is able to flow back into the esophagus. This can cause irritation and inflammation in the esophagus, which lacks the protection your stomach lining has.
At Tillman Medical Group, a variety of GERD treatments are available, and the first option is usually lifestyle changes and over-the-counter or prescription medications. If these options fail, your provider may recommend you move on to more direct solutions including upper endoscopy or rarely surgery.
With most cases of GERD, the first step your provider at Tillman Medical Group will recommend is to try to identify the foods that cause you to experience symptoms, usually spicy, acidic, or rich foods. Avoiding food right before bed, or sleeping more upright can also help. Antacid tablets or medications that block acid production can be effective as well.
Prescription medication like proton pump inhibitors or H-2 receptor blockers can also be effective in many cases of GERD. In cases where medication proves ineffective, there are surgeries, like a fundoplication, that can strengthen the sphincter as well.
If you’re suffering from GERD or chronic heartburn, call Tillman Medical Group today or make an appointment online.