If you’re experiencing frequent or severe heartburn, you could have a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is when you have regular acid reflux that disrupts your daily life, and it’s both common and treatable. If you’re experiencing frequent heartburn, make an appointment with Ulin Sergeant, MD, MPH, today. Call Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care in Duarte, California, today to make an appointment, or make one online with the scheduling tool.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid frequently overflows into your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Your esophagus is not resistant to acid like the lining of your stomach is, so this overflow, called acid reflux, can irritate the esophagus and damage it over time.
Although many people experience infrequent acid reflux, people with GERD may have mild-to-moderate acid reflux twice a week or more, or severe acid reflux once a week or more. Some cases of GERD can be managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, but more severe cases may require prescription medication or even surgery to correct.
Common signs and symptoms of GERD will usually include:
Heartburn may grow worse after a meal or when you lie down. If you have nighttime acid reflux, you could also experience a chronic cough, laryngitis, disrupted sleep, and new or worsening asthma.
The first step to treating GERD is often some small lifestyle changes, including maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding foods that trigger your acid reflux. If you smoke, stopping as soon as possible can reduce your incidences of acid reflux, as can elevating the head of your bed or avoiding lying down after a meal.
If these lifestyle changes aren’t sufficient, antacid medications that neutralize stomach acid, like Tums®, can protect your esophagus. Further prescription medication may also be helpful, like h-2 receptor blockers and other medications that block acid production entirely. Proton pump inhibitors can also block acid production and heal your esophagus. In some rare cases, surgery to tighten the muscles around your stomach can be necessary to prevent acid reflux.
If you’re having frequent heartburn or are worried you may have GERD, call Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care today, or make your appointment online.