Considering that more than 15 million American adults experience reflux symptoms daily, it's not surprising to walk into most drugstores and find an entire aisle dedicated to stomach issues. However, not all products work for all people and reflux shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you suffer from reflux, call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Sreelatha Reddy at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic in Houston.
Reflux occurs when the acid from your stomach flows into your esophagus. Because your esophagus connects your throat and stomach, symptoms include tasting regurgitated food or sour liquid, which is often accompanied by a burning sensation in your chest.
The terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD often are used interchangeably. However, while related, these terms have different medical meanings.
The term heartburn doesn't have anything to do with your heart. Heartburn occurs when your stomach acid reaches into your esophagus.
Because the lining of your esophagus is more delicate than that of your stomach, the acid produces sharp or burning pain and often creates a tightening sensation in your chest.
Heartburn tends to occur after eating. Both bending over and lying down make the pain worse.
A circular muscle called your lower esophageal sphincter is located where your esophagus and stomach meet. The sphincter tightens your esophagus after food passes into your stomach. If the sphincter doesn’t constrict properly, the acid from your stomach moves backward into your esophagus, causing what is known as acid reflux.
Acid reflux often causes heartburn.
While most people experience heartburn and acid reflux occasionally, Dr. Reddy diagnoses you with GERD when your acid reflux becomes chronic and interferes with your normal activities more than twice a week. Over-the-counter medication doesn’t often relieve the pain associated with GERD.
GERD is treatable, and it’s essential to do so, because long-term damage to your esophagus tends to lead to cancer.
To diagnose you with reflux, Dr. Reddy reviews your symptoms and medical history. If your symptoms don’t improve with the lifestyle changes and medication she prescribes, additional testing helps with a diagnosis:
For this test, you swallow a liquid mixture that includes barium, and X-rays are taken as it moves through your GI tract.
Dr. Reddy passes a small, lighted, flexible tube through your mouth and into your esophagus and stomach looking for abnormalities.
The treatment that Dr. Reddy offers depends on the severity of your reflux. Her most common recommendations include lifestyle changes and medicines. Surgery is a last resort.
If avoiding foods and drinks that make your symptoms worse hasn’t diminished your reflux, call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Sreelatha Reddy at Houston Gastrointestinal & Liver Clinic in Houston.