Acid Reflux

Do You Suffer from Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux becomes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) when it causes bothersome symptoms or injury to the esophagus.

Acid Reflux Symptoms

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. Less common symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain (pain in the upper abdomen)
  • Non-burning chest pain
  •  Difficulty swallowing (called dysphasia), or food getting stuck
  • Painful swallowing (called odynophagia)
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Persistent laryngitis/hoarseness
  • Chronic cough, new onset asthma, or asthma only at night
  • Regurgitation of foods/fluids; taste of acid in the throat
  • Sense of a lump in the throat
  • Worsening dental disease
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Waking up with a choking sensation

When to Seek Help

The following signs and symptoms may indicate a more serious problem, and should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately:

  • Difficulty or pain with swallowing (feeling that food gets “stuck”)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Choking
  • Bleeding (vomiting blood or dark-colored stools)

Acid Reflux Diagnosis

Acid reflux is usually diagnosed based upon symptoms and the response to treatment.

Common Tests for GERD

  • Endoscopy – An upper endoscopy is commonly used to evaluate the esophagus. A small, flexible tube is passed into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.
  • There are other tests that can measure acid levels in the esophagus or evaluate the muscle activity in the esophagus if needed.

GERD Treatment - Medications

  • Antacids — Examples of antacids include Tums®, Maalox®, and Mylanta®
  • Histamine Antagonists (H2 Antagonists) — The histamine antagonists reduce production of acid in the stomach. Examples of histamine antagonists available in the United States include ranitidine (Zantac®), famotidine (Pepcid®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), and nizatidine (Axid®).
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – PPIs include omeprazole (Prilosec®), esomeprazole (Nexium®), lansoprazole (Prevacid®), dexlansoprazole (Kapidex®), pantoprazole (Protonix®), and raboprazole (Aciphex®), whare stronger and more effective than the H2 Antagonists.

Acid Reflux Complications

Studies have shown that GERD may worsen or contribute to asthma, chronic cough, enamel erosion on teeth, and pulmonary fibrosis.

  • Ulcers – Ulcers can form in the esophagus as a result of burning from stomach acid.
  • Stricture — Damage from acid can cause the esophagus to scar and narrow, causing a blockage (stricture) that can cause food or pills to get stuck in the esophagus.
  • Lung and throat problems — Some people reflux acid into the throat, causing inflammation of the vocal cords, a sore throat, or a hoarse voice.
  • Barrett’s esophagus — Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the normal cells that line the lower esophagus (squamous cells) are replaced by a different cell type (intestinal cells). The intestinal cells have a small risk of transforming into cancer cells. As a result, people with Barrett’s esophagus are advised to have a periodic endoscopy to monitor for early warning signs of cancer.
  • Esophageal cancer — A major risk factor for adenocarcinoma is Barrett’s esophagus, discussed above.

GERD Treatment - Lifestyle Changes

  • Avoid acid reflux inducing foods (see list at right)
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid large and late meals
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing
  • Weight loss — Losing weight may help people who are overweight to reduce acid reflux
  • Raise the head of the bed six to eight inches

Common Foods That Can Worsen Reflux Symptoms

  • Milk
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Chocolate
  • Drinks with caffeine or alcohol (especially red wine)
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Mint flavorings
  • Pepper seasoning
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, salsa, chili, and pizza

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Dayton Gastroenterology, Inc.

  • Beavercreek (Sylvania) Office & Endoscopy Center - 75 Sylvania Drive, Beavercreek, OH 45440 Phone: 937-320-5050 Fax: 937-320-5060
  • Beavercreek (Indian Ripple) Office & Endoscopy Center - 4200 Indian Ripple Road, Beavercreek, OH 45440 Phone: 937-320-5050 Fax: 937-320-5060
  • Englewood Office & Endoscopy Center - 9000 N. Main Street Suite 405, Englewood, OH 45415 Phone: 937-320-5050 Fax: 937-320-5060
  • Miamisburg Office - 415 Byers Road Suite 100, Miamisburg, OH 45342 Phone: 937-320-5050 Fax: 937-320-5060

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