That intense burning feeling has started. Your doctor tells you to track your symptoms--when they start, how long they last and what, if anything, helps. When you talk again, he says you may have GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and says you should speak to a gastroenterologist at Gastro-Intestinal Associates in Lima, OH. This team of board-certified physicians sees GERD frequently, can precisely diagnose it and can give you a treatment plan to control it.
Just what is GERD?
It's heartburn, that feeling in your chest that happens after a heavy meal or when you consume fatty, spicy foods. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, about 15 million people in the United States experience the backflow of their stomach contents into the esophagus, or food pipe, resulting in symptoms of:
- Stomach pain
- Heartburn pain in the center of the chest
- Regurgitation of the stomach contents into the mouth
- Coughing and hoarseness
- Sore throat
Reasons for GERD
Why does GERD happen? Basically, the top portion of the stomach moves up through the diaphragm, creating what your gastroenterologist in Lima calls a hiatal hernia. The musculature around the bottom of the esophagus (the esophageal sphincter) becomes incompetent and allows stomach contents to move back up through the food pipe.
In addition, some lifestyle issues seem to precipitate symptoms. They are:
- Consumption of a lot of spicy, fatty, and acidic foods
- Being overweight or pregnant
- Doing a lot of heavy lifting
Advancing age can factor in because as years advance, gastrointestinal muscles become laxer.
The first step in treatment is consultation at Gastro-Intestinal Associates. Your GI doctor will review your symptoms and may wish to perform an endoscopy, an examination of the esophagus and stomach via a small lighted tube. This flexible tube transmits live pictures of the interior of the GI tract as your doctor looks for structural abnormalities (such as a hiatal hernia) and inflammation.
Fortunately, Gastro-Intestinal Associates has a fully-equipped and nationally-recognized endoscopy unit which performs these procedures in-house. Other possible tests include an upper GI series of X-rays and esophageal manometry which evaluates the muscular function of the esophagus.
With a positive diagnosis of GERD, your doctor may recommend medications such as H2 Blockers (Zantac) or Proton Pump Inhibitors (Prilosec). Other common recommendations are:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting consumption of caffeinated beverages, chocolate, and spicy and fatty foods
- Avoiding heavy meals (smaller, more frequent portions are better) and eating right before bedtime
- Wear looser clothing
While surgery can correct a hiatal hernia, this kind of invasive treatment is not preferred as a first choice.
Do you have GERD?
Find out for sure, and learn how to manage it with precise, compassionate care from the experts at Gastro-Intestinal Associates in Lima, OH. Contact the office team today for a consultation: (419) 277-8209.