Heartburn, GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Syndrome
Many people experience heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux or GERD. It is a painful and aggravating condition that is often readily treated with diet and lifestyle changes. When unsuccessful this condition may be treated with effective and safe medications. Patients may report a burning sensation in the stomach alone (gastritis) or heartburn that can be felt in the chest (gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD]). Some may exhibit laryngitis, hoarseness, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, nighttime coughing and a bitter taste in the mouth as symptoms from this common and aggravating condition. This is also a potentially dangerous condition if left untreated or undertreated. Sometimes the acid reflux if prolonged over time can cause scar tissue or stricture formation in the lower esophagus. This stricture then contracts narrowing the size of the tube to the stomach. This scar tissue formation and its eventual contraction then may make it hard to swallow. Some of the bordering mucosal cells of the lower inner lining of the esophagus at the junction with the stomach if exposed to the stomach acids repeatedly for a prolonged period can actually cause a change in the cell type. This metaplastic cell change may become cancerous in some of patients. Obviously prolonged GERD is not a condition to take lightly.
Some foods are very commonly involved in the aggravating the symptoms of GERD. Foods and drinks such as alcohol, xanthenes such as caffeine found in coffee and tea, theobromines and phenylethylamines found in chocolates often lead to GERD. Citrus, spicy foods such as spaghetti, pizzas and others also are contributors to this disturbing and painful condition. Fatty foods, spicy foods and large meals as well as general poor muscular conditioning of the abdomen all are likely suspects in the typical patient’s experience. Tight clothing also can contribute to the symptoms of heartburn. Some medications also contribute to the development of GERD and need to be addressed. Avoidance of alcohol and smoking is usually helpful in many patients. Some bodily positions also enhance the likelihood of experiencing GERD and should be avoided. Lying down soon after eating a big meal, straining, coughing, sneezing (Valsalva maneuvers) all hasten on the symptoms.
There are other conditions that need to be ruled out and this may be done with a medical history alone and/or simple laboratory tests.
If someone you know (family member, coworker, friend) or you are experiencing heartburn symptoms, or any other family medical or musculoskeletal condition feel free to call the office, and I will sit down with you to determine the best plan for controlling or curing this any other aggravating and potentially dangerous condition.
Call us at 817-274-CARE (2273) and make an appointment.