Monday , September 21 2020

Heartburn and Acid Reflux – Nuisance, or Notable Medical Condition?

Heartburn and Acid Reflux - NuisanceHeartburn is a burning discomfort in the chest that is often worse after eating or when lying down. It can be a result of stomach contents radiating upwards into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. When it occurs regularly, such as two or three times per week, this is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Besides heartburn, other symptoms of GERD can include nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, persistent sore throat, chronic cough a sensation of a lump in the throat, or a bitter or acidic taste in the mouth.
There are certain foods and drinks that seem to trigger heartburn and other symptoms of GERD. These include tomato products such as sauces or ketchup, fatty or fried foods, spicy foods, citrus products, peppermint, chocolate, caffeinated or carbonated beverages, and alcohol. Being overweight or pregnant also increases the chance of experiencing heartburn.
The diagnosis of GERD is usually based on symptoms and response to therapy. In people who have symptoms of acid reflux but no evidence of complications, lifestyle changes are initially recommended. These include losing weight, elevating the head of the bed to allow gravity to counter acid reflux, avoiding trigger foods, avoiding eating late, and quitting smoking.
If heartburn and GERD symptoms do not occur frequently, over the counter antacids can be tried. In patients with moderate to severe symptoms, more potent acid-suppressing medications can be tried. Proton-pump inhibitors, or PPIs, are very effective at reducing acid in the stomach. These include omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix), among others. The goal is to take the lowest dose of these medications that controls the symptoms to prevent complications.
If you are having to take these medications regularly for more than a few weeks, or you are still having symptoms with these medications, you should see a doctor. Upper endoscopy should be considered to evaluate for changes of acid reflux.
This is because over time and if uncontrolled, the persistent refluxing of acidic contents can lead to irritation or inflammation of the esophagus (“esophagitis”), esophageal ulcers, narrowing or stricturing of the esophagus, precancerous changes known as Barrett’s esophagus, and even esophageal cancer. Signs or symptoms of these complications include difficulty or pain with swallowing, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, choking, vomiting of blood, or dark stools. If any of these occur, you should strongly consider seeing a gastroenterologist, a doctor that specializes in stomach and bowel related diseases, and can perform upper endoscopy with other evaluation and techniques as needed specific to your condition.
Dr. Kaif, Board Certified Gastroenterologist, Founder of Frontier Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Dr. Kaif performs upper endoscopies and colonoscopies with interventions. He recently opened his practice in Trinity, FL. Dr. Kaif completed medical school at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He went on to pursue training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology (digestive and liver diseases) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Kaif then served as Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida from 2016-2018, where he pursued both clinical practice and education of gastroenterology fellows.
If you or someone you know needs a gastrointestinal evaluation for prevention, diagnosis, or treatment, please contact Dr. Kaif’s office today.
Frontier Gastroenterology & Hepatology
8109 SR 54, Trinity, FL 34655

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