The burning and discomfort of one acid reflux occurrence is unpleasant enough, but when it becomes an entrenched pattern, you might start to get anxious before every meal. If you have acid reflux, you could be at risk for GERD, a syndrome where reflux episodes are quite frequent.
Terry Baker, MD, is an experienced and caring otolaryngologist who specializes in treating patients with any problems that have to do with the ear, nose, and throat. He can address both acid reflux and GERD.
What are acid reflux and GERD?
What happens during acid reflux is an anatomical hiccup of sorts. When you eat or drink, a muscle at your stomach’s entrance called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is supposed to close as food passes through it.
With acid reflux, the muscle either opens when it doesn’t need to or stays open for too long. You may experience these symptoms:
- Stomach acid rising up into your mouth
- Burping or persistent hiccups
- Sore throat, cough, or wheezing
- Dark or bloody stools or vomit with blood in it
- The feeling of something being caught in your throat
If you experience a combination of these symptoms twice per week or more, your condition can be classified as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Dr. Baker creates a customized treatment plan that takes into account your recent and long-term experiences with acid reflux symptoms, the frequency with which you’re dealing with them, and any co-occurring conditions. He may order tests such as:
- An endoscopy
- A barium swallow
- Esophageal manometry
The endoscopy, performed using a local anesthesia, allows Dr. Baker to view your esophagus in real time by inserting a long bendable tube equipped with a light and camera. A barium swallow reveals ulcers via an X-ray.
Esophageal manometry is a procedure in which a thin tube goes carefully down your nose and esophagus and into your stomach. It measures the strength and rhythms of your esophageal muscle bands when you swallow.
Getting relief from GERD symptoms
Certain lifestyle changes may be all it takes to relieve your symptoms:
- Watch your weight
- Avoid trigger foods and drinks like fried foods, tomato sauce, garlic, alcohol, and caffeine
- Don’t rush eating or drinking; chew deliberately
- Place blocks under your bed on the end where your head goes so your upper body is elevated by 6-9 inches when you sleep
- Refrain from smoking
- Wait a minimum of three hours before lying down after a meal
If these tactics don’t work, Dr. Baker usually recommends medication. There is a diverse range of non-prescription and prescription options to choose from. Treatments might include:
- Over-the-counter medications that lower or prevent acid production or that neutralize the acid
- Prescription medications that affect acid production and makeup
- Baclofen, a medication available by prescription that makes the LES relax less frequently
Medication frequently works, but some cases may require surgery. You can get a LINX device inserted in a minimally invasive procedure. The small ring of magnetic beads is placed where your esophagus and stomach meet, and it allows food to pass through, but blocks acid.
You can also receive a laparoscopic surgery where the top portion of your stomach is either partially or fully wrapped around your LES. This is called fundoplication.
Dr. Baker’s passion for keeping up with the latest medical advances in his speciality makes him uniquely qualified to provide you with superior GERD care. Call our Idaho Falls office today to schedule an appointment to solve your acid problem once and for all.