Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease
As the name suggests, this occurs when gastric (stomach) contents (acid or digestive juices or more) come back up into the esophagus. The “backing up” or flowing the wrong way is the “reflux” portion of the name. Reflux and GERD can have a spectrum of symptoms, ranging from nausea, heartburn or chest pain to a bitter taste in the back of the mouth, a hoarse voice or sore throat, dental erosions or even a chronic (long-term) cough.
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It is possible for reflux to lead to changes in the lining of the esophagus (known as Barrett’s esophagus), the formation of ulcers or scars that can lead to swallowing problems. Difficulty with swallowing (known as dysphagia) is an alarm symptom that warrants immediate investigation. Long-term reflux is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer – do not ignore the symptoms.
Acid reflux and heartburn are symptoms that occur occasionally in many people. If, however, they are occurring on a frequent or even daily basis or are interfering with your quality-of-life, then this is worth further investigation.
It is perfectly reasonable to trial over-the-counter acid blocking with antacids, or acid suppression with either the class of medications known as H2-blockers (ranitidine, nzatidine, famotidine) or even the proton pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole or lansoprazole etc. ) at home, BUT if this medication needs to be taken for more than two weeks then further thoughtful investigation is warranted.
Conditions that increase the likelihood of GERD include structural or anatomical factors such as obesity or a hiatal hernia, motility (movement) problems with the main body of the esophagus (for example by connective tissue problems such as scleroderma), delayed stomach emptying caused by a movement problem (such as gastroparesis) or an outlet obstruction. Chewing or dipping tobacco or smoking significantly increases the chances of esophageal cancer.
Tests to determine what is going on may include endoscopy (EGD), X-ray based swallow studies in conjunction with a speech pathologist or an esophagram, manometry to look at both the pressure waves and movement pattern in the body of the esophagus as well as the pattern of relaxation of the the sphincter or muscle that lies at the bottom of the esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Other tests focus on measuring the duration and intensity of the acidity of the esophageal contents.
Based in the heart of uptown and the Garden District of New Orleans, Dr. Huilgol (”Dr. Viv”) and the team at NOLA Gastro is committed to working with you to investigate what is going on, so you can make the correct choices for you.
Gut health matters. Let’s work it out together.
Call 504-249-5901 and make an appointment…