Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Louisiana

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease, sometimes referred to as GERD, is a term that describes the recurrent presentation of acid reflux. Acid reflux is the name given to an individual episode or instance of acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus, known as heartburn.

An individual is regularly diagnosed as having GERD when acid reflux occurs in mild cases one or fewer times per week, or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux is experienced at a minimum of twice a week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is known to occur at any age, but it most commonly presents in those close to 40 years of age. If ignored, patients have been known to eventually progress to a complication referred to as Barrett’s esophagus. If you believe you're experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease, we urge you to visit a gastroenterology specialist at GastroGroup & Endocenter in Louisiana as soon as possible.

When one chooses to swallow food, it passes through the esophagus and past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the stomach. When the LES grows compromised, it can weaken and fail to stop stomach acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. Usually, there is not a single cause that increases the chance of this occurring. An individual is at greater potential of suffering from or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease if you have one or more of the following criteria:

  • Eat spicy foods
  • Eat raw onion or garlic
  • Hiatal hernia (when the upper part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm)
  • Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
  • Coffee consumption
  • Being pregnant
  • Tobacco use
  • Consume large meals late at night
  • Obesity
  • Lie down often after eating
  • Alcohol use

The main symptoms of GERD are quite like acid reflux but may be experienced more often. Those symptoms can include:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bloating
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Lump-in-the-throat sensation
  • Asthma
  • Laryngitis
  • Persistent cough
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquids
  • Chest pain

You should request an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GastroGroup & Endocenter as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms regularly and are in pain, or if you take OTC heartburn medication more often than twice within a week.

Treating GERD might include lifestyle modifications, medical intervention, or a combination of both. Treatment approaches to help avoid or alleviate GERD can in Louisiana patients include:

  • Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
  • Fundoplication (surgery performed to wrap the stomach around the LES)
  • Limit caffeine/coffee consumption
  • Lose excess weight
  • Eat slowly and in moderation
  • Avoid eating at least two hours before going to bed
  • Remain awake and stand up after eating
  • Do not consume foods and drinks prone to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
  • LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus)
  • Medication to strengthen the LES
  • Non-prescription antacids
  • Sleep on an incline
  • Avoid smoking
  • Inform your gastroenterologist about the current medications you are taking
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What is the difference between acid reflux and GERD?

The primary difference between the conditions of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease is sometimes perplexing. Simply put, GERD is acid reflux that persists frequently for a prolonged period of time. Should you experience heartburn or any other symptoms either daily or multiple times throughout the week, or you have symptoms that do not diminish with over-the-counter options, you may be experiencing GERD.

What types of food should I avoid if I am diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Foods and drinks that promote stomach acid production should likely be avoided if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease. A few examples include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Spicy foods
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Red meat
  • Foods containing salt and pepper
  • Foods high in fat
  • Beverages high in caffeine
  • Sugary foods

Our GastroGroup and Endocenter team can provide additional information on other foods or beverages to avoid if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Is GERD a life-threatening disease?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is typically not life-threatening. It might make daily tasks a bit uncomfortable at times, but you can likely find some relief with proper treatment. When left untreated, GERD can lead to more complicated GI conditions. These involve esophagitis (inflammation of the esophageal lining) and Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that damages the esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach). Undergoing the care you need for GERD can help protect your general health.

How long can it take for GERD to improve after starting treatment?

There are several factors that affect how long it might take for GERD relief to occur. These include the type of medication you are taking, any damage that has occurred from GERD, and how diligently you avoid foods that worsen your symptoms. With professional treatment, your symptoms should subside over time. Although GERD may not resolve altogether, you should be able to manage its symptoms effectively.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is an extremely common struggle impacting the day-to-day lives of many people. With proper medical treatment, however, it can be well-managed. If you or someone you love lives with GERD, the physician-led network of gastroenterologists at GastroGroup & Endocenter is ready to help. Please reserve a consultation at our office to receive treatment for GERD in Louisiana.

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