Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is commonly called acid reflux. It is a condition where the acid in the stomach flows back into the esophagus frequently. Acid reflux can irritate the esophageal lining.
How Do I Know If I Have Acid Reflux?
We all have experienced gastroesophageal reflux. It is when you burp, and there is an acid taste in your mouth, or you have heartburn. But if these are happening to you every day and are causing discomfort or anxiety, consulting your doctor would be the best move to dismiss any worries. You may already be exhibiting symptoms of GERD or acid reflux.
The most common symptoms of GERD are:
- A recurrent or chronic cough
- Bad breath
- Chest pain (seek immediate medical help
- Inflammation of the gums
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty or pain in swallowing
- Food or liquid regurgitation (the spitting up of food from the esophagus or stomach without nausea or forceful contractions of the abdominal muscles)
- Feeling a lump in your throat
- Laryngitis or hoarseness of voice when speaking
- Sudden excess of saliva
Some patients may experience acid reflux only at night. This is what you call nighttime acid reflux. These patients may also experience a chronic cough, new or worsening asthma, laryngitis, and/or disrupted sleep.
How Is GERD Diagnosed?
Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination, review your medical history, and discuss your symptoms to determine your diagnosis. You may need to undergo several tests to confirm the diagnosis, these tests can include:
- Ambulatory Acid (pH) Test–Monitors the amount of acid in the esophagus
- Endoscopy – Examines the inside of the esophagus
- Esophageal Impedance Test – Measures the movement of substances in the esophagus
- X-ray of the upper digestive system
How Is GERD Treated?
The first approach of treatment for GERD is to change your diet and lifestyle. Your doctor may recommend losing weight if you are overweight. Other lifestyle recommendations include avoiding eating large meals, fatty foods, alcohol, peppermint, and coffee, or other caffeinated beverages. After eating, do not lie down as this can affect digestion. When you sleep, be sure to elevate the level of your head.
If lifestyle and dietary changes do not work, certain medications are prescribed by your doctor. The medicines either decrease the level of acid in your stomach or increase the level of movement in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
If conservative treatment options do not provide significant results. Your doctor may recommend minimally invasive treatment options.
Endoscopic treatment can help your doctor to treat GERD. An endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lining of your digestive tract without having to make an incision in your body.
Fundoplication surgery is a form of minimally invasive procedure as it is often performed laparoscopically allowing for a shorter treatment time, less pain, and faster recovery compared to traditional surgical methods. During this procedure, part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the esophagus and secured using dissolvable stitches. This procedure helps to strengthen the valve between your stomach and esophagus to avoid stomach acid back up.
Another treatment option is the Stretta procedure, which is also minimally invasive. This non-surgical treatment only takes about an hour to perform and allows most people to return to their everyday activities within a day. During the procedure, a thin tube is inserted down your esophagus. An electrode at the end of the tube heats your esophageal tissue creating tiny cuts. These cuts then develop scar tissue and help to block your nerves from responding to reflux acid and strengthen the surrounding muscles.
What is the first step that I will take?
The first step is to seek treatment. Here at the office of Dr. Philip Leggett & Dr. Seeyuen Lee, we offer endoscopy services to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal diseases.
Philip L. Leggett, MD, is a board-certified laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon at his practice in Houston, with more than 30 years of experience in the field. He is internationally recognized as a minimally invasive surgeon, and he has authored numerous medical publications. He works with Seeyuen Jane Lee, MD, is a board-certified laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon who specializes in robotic and minimally invasive surgery.
If you have severe or chronic abdominal pain or other disruptive gastrointestinal symptoms, call the practice or schedule a consultation online today. For more information on GERD and endoscopy, other health screenings, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at (281) 580-6797.