Acid Reflux Treatment in Your Neighborhood
During digestion, once food moves through your esophagus, it enters your stomach through a circular valve. When this valve, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), does not close completely or opens too often, stomach acid is released into the esophagus, causing symptoms such as chest discomfort or heartburn. Acid reflux disease is a common problem that many patients face, especially as they get older. Chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Common symptoms of acid reflux disease include the following:
- Heartburn: burning, pain, or discomfort that moves from your stomach to your abdomen or chest, and sometimes into your throat.
- Regurgitation: sour or bitter-tasting acid that backs up into your throat.
- Blood in stool or vomit
- Wheezing, dry cough
If you find you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of acid reflux, it’s important to reach out to an experienced physician at a reputable hospital, like Townsen Memorial, before the problem gets worse.
Causes of Acid Reflux
There are many different possible causes of acid reflux. They may include the following:
- Hiatal Hernia: when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, allowing acid to escape the stomach.
- Eating large meals
- Lying down after eating
- Snacking close to bedtime
- Eating highly fatty, spicy or acidic foods: tomato, citrus, chocolate, mint, onions, garlic
- Drinking fizzy or caffeinated beverages: alcohol, soda, coffee, tea
- Medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, some muscle relaxers and/or blood pressure medication
Diagnosing Acid Reflux Disease
Acid reflux can be uncomfortable, especially when it flares up around other people, such as at work or school. Fortunately, there are treatments available to alleviate symptoms by fixing the underlying problem.
However, before treatment can begin, our highly-experienced physicians will perform diagnostic testing to rule out another medically-relevant problem. This testing may include:
- Barium Swallow: Checks for ulcers or narrowing of the esophagus. The barium solution allows our doctors to see your internal structures more clearly on an X-ray.
- Esophageal Manometry: Checks the movement and functionality of the LES and the esophagus.
- pH Monitoring: Looks for extra acid in the esophagus. A physician inserts a device into the esophagus, leaving it in for 24 to 48 hours while it measures the amount of acid over time.
- Endoscopy: A tube with a small camera is led through the throat and pinpoints problems in the esophagus or stomach.
- Biopsy: The physician may collect a small sample of tissue during an endoscopy to check it for abnormalities or infection.
Acid Reflux Treatment
An effective, non-surgical treatment to help alleviate symptoms is to commit to a lifestyle change. We suggest avoiding any foods or drinks that cause your symptoms to flare up. You can also:
- Eater smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
- Eat less fatty, spicy, and acidic foods, and cut out any foods that you notice trigger symptoms.
- Quit smoking.
- Cease eating at least two to three hours before going to bed.
- Raise your head with blocks or pillows while sleeping.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes/pants.
- If you’re overweight or obese, begin taking steps to lose weight through diet and exercise.
- Consult your doctor about whether any medications you’re taking are causing your symptoms.
If you make these lifestyle changes but nothing seems to help, it is time to consider further medical intervention. Fortunately, lifestyle changes combined with medication can usually cease symptoms in their tracks. Antacids, which are available over-the-counter, work to neutralize the acid in your stomach. If this doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend other medications, such as:
- H2 Blockers: reduce acid production.
- Prokinetics: help strengthen LES, empty stomach more quickly and reduce symptoms.
- Proton pump inhibitors: reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
- Foaming agents: line the stomach to prevent reflux.
Finally, if medication and a lifestyle change haven’t helped, and your symptoms are greatly interfering with your life, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention. Fortunately, at Townsen Memorial, our bariatric team, led by Dr. Clifton Thomas, is one of the best.
Dr. Thomas will work with you, after both a physical exam and review of your medical history, to determine the best procedure for you. A common surgical intervention is a LINX procedure, that involves placing a ring around the lower end of the esophagus to tighten the LES and prevent acid from escaping the stomach. Another typical surgical treatment is a fundoplication. This procedure creates an artificial valve by wrapping the top of your stomach around the LES. This strengthens the LES and prevents reflux.
If you’ve been struggling with acid reflux symptoms and haven’t found relief, even after changing your daily habits, it’s time to speak with Townsen Memorial’s bariatric experts. Our doctors will assess your situation and provide a treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms and stop the acid reflux. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’re conveniently located off of FM 1960 and I69 in Humble. Visit townsenmemorialhospital.com.