Heartburn and Reflux

 What are Heartburn and Acid Reflux?

Heartburn is characterized as a burning sensation that is felt strongly in your chest, from behind the breastbone. The pain associated with heartburn is often worse after you lay down or bend over. Heartburn is an incredibly common problem that is caused as a result of stomach acid that has refluxed into the esophagus. Obesity is one of the leading risk factors in the development of frequent heartburn and acid reflux. If you are experiencing chronic heartburn or frequent acid reflux, it could be a result of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.

Symptoms of GERD

GERD is a chronic digestive condition that develops as a result of bile that refluxes into your esophagus. Patients that experience heartburn and acid reflux at least twice every week are generally diagnosed with GERD. Other symptoms associated with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease include:

• Sour taste in the mouth

• Chest pain

• Difficulty swallowing

• Dry cough

• Sore throat

• Hoarseness

• Regurgitation

• A feeling of a lump in the throat

Treatment for GERD

Many people are able to control and prevent the outbreaks of heartburn and acid reflux that are associated with GERD through simple lifestyle changes. If medical treatment is necessary, then there are several different options that your physician may recommend, including both medication and surgery. Dr. Taylor will be able to decide the best treatment option for your individual needs.

For most patients, the first course of treatment for GERD includes over-the-counter medications. This type of treatment includes antacids, H-2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors. If these medications are not successful, then prescription strength medications may be recommended.

Prescription strength medications for GERD are often similar in function to the over-the-counter options but are much stronger. Ultimately, if medication proves to be unsuccessful then surgery may be recommended. Depending on your needs there are several surgical options available in the treatment of GERD, including:

  • Nissen Fundoplication: which is a surgical procedure intended to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • EndoCinch Endoluminal Gastroplication: this surgical procedure works by creating a barrier that prevents a back-up of stomach acid into the esophagus.
  • Stretta Procedure: this procedure is intended to form scar tissue in the esophagus to help tighten the muscles and prevent esophageal reflux

Heartburn and acid reflux are very common problems, especially among individuals that are overweight or obese. For many patients, overcoming your obesity through methods like weight loss surgery helps to relieve the pain and discomfort that is associated with heartburn, acid reflux and GERD.