Most of us have experienced the burning sensation of heartburn. Occasional acid reflux can often be prevented by avoiding certain foods. If acid reflux symptoms occur more than twice a week, you may have a more serious condition known as acid reflux disease. Patients with this condition are at risk for complications such as esophageal scarring and choking.
If you frequently experience heartburn, Dr. Bradford Ress can examine your symptoms at our Boca Raton, FL office before prescribing treatment. This disease can often be managed with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. To schedule an exam with Dr. Ress, please contact our office online.
Causes of Acid Reflux
The stomach is connected to the esophagus by a ring of muscle (effectively a valve) called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). In patients without acid reflux disease, the LES closes immediately after allowing food to pass. When the valve does not close properly, acid can escape from the stomach.
The esophagus lining is not designed to handle strong acids that form in the stomach. The stomach has special protective cells that line its walls and protect the underlying tissue from the acids and enzymes that are produced. For some patients, this condition can be partly caused by:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Certain foods, such as fatty or spicy foods
- Being pregnant
- Being overweight
- Certain medications
- A hiatal hernia
- Tobacco use
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
The main symptom of acid reflux is a burning sensation in the chest. Often, patients can feel the movement of acid from the stomach through the esophagus and to the throat. Wheezing, coaching, choking, sore throat, regurgitation, and a bitter taste in the mouth are all common symptoms of acid reflux.
During your exam at our Boca Raton office, Dr. Ress will ask about your symptoms. He may conduct an endoscopy (using a flexible scope and camera) to determine if you have this disease.
Treatment Options for Acid Reflux
Depending on the cause of your acid reflux, Dr. Ress may recommend behavioral adjustments, nutritional changes, prescription medication, or a combination of those options. Common recommendations for reducing heartburn symptoms include:
- Eating smaller portions
- Cutting back on fatty foods
- Avoiding eating before bedtime
- Cutting back on over-the-counter medications
- Reducing caffeine consumption
- Sleeping with the head elevated
- Quitting smoking
- Weight loss
Antacids can reduce many unwanted symptoms. More serious stomach acid-related problems may require the use of foaming agents, H2 blockers to reduce acid production, proton pump inhibitors to lower the amount of acid produced or prokinetics that can strengthen the LES. In rare cases, surgical options may be needed to treat severe acid reflux disease.
Treat Your Heartburn Symptoms Today
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 60 million Americans report having heartburn at least once a month. While acid reflux may be one of the more common health problems among Americans, it is important to remember that the condition is not benign. Two or more occurrences of heartburn a week may be a sign of a more serious underlying health problem. Over time, stomach acids can scar the lining of the esophagus and damage the voice box. Once Dr. Ress has assessed your symptoms, you can enjoy long-term relief from heartburn. To schedule your consultation, contact our Boca Raton office online or call us at (561) 353-7377.