Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux is a medical condition in which acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus and at times, up to the throat.
Causes of Acid Reflux
There are several possible causes of acid reflux. One of which is a hiatal hernia. This is a condition in which a small part of the stomach bulges, causing a hole in the diaphragm. When this happens, it is easier for acid from the stomach to travel up to the esophagus, causing acid reflux symptoms.
Other factors that increase your risk of acid reflux include obesity, smoking, pregnancy, overuse of medications like aspirin and ibuprofen, and a diet high in alcohol, caffeine, strong spices and greasy food.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
The most common and distinct symptoms of acid reflux are heartburn and regurgitation.
Heartburn can be described as a burning sensation felt from the stomach to the abdomen, chest, and at times, in the throat. Regurgitation refers to bitter-tasting acid backing up into the throat.
Some people with acid reflux may also complain of bloating, hiccups, nausea, burping, a sensation of something being stuck in the throat (also known as dysphagia), hoarseness, sore throat, and bloody vomiting.
Diagnosing and Managing Acid Reflux
Symptoms such as heartburn usually indicate acid reflux. However, doctors typically conduct further tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the cause behind it. Some of these tests include a barium swallow, upper GI endoscopy, esophageal manometry, pH monitoring, and biopsy.
Acid reflux can often be managed with diet and lifestyle changes. Initially, patients are advised to eat smaller meals throughout the day, lose weight if obese or overweight, quit smoking, and avoid certain foods that can trigger the acid reflux symptoms.
Some over-the-counter drugs such as antacids and H2 blockers can aid in temporarily alleviating symptoms of acid reflux, but if there’s little -to-no relief of symptoms with lifestyle modifications and medications, eventually patients may be recommended for surgery.
Surgery is also recommended for those with serious acid reflux complications, such as inflammation of the esophagus and ulcer formation.
At Premier Surgical of Knoxville, we will help you find relief from your acid reflux symptoms. Our surgeons are certified by the American Board of Surgery and have specialized knowledge and skills in handling different cases, including those that involve the alimentary tract (esophagus, stomach, small, and large bowel).
Visit Premier Surgical’s Acid Reflux webpage to learn more about the surgical options for treating GERD.