Our four gastroenterologists at Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants in Houston, TX? Our four gastroenterologists see many patients with intense heartburn. Learn more about what your symptoms may mean here.
What is GERD?
GI experts at the Cleveland Clinic report that a full 20 percent of Americans suffer from GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Commonly called heartburn or acid reflux, GERD features repeated and persistent:
- Burning pain in the chest area--specifically, the esophagus or food pipe
- Regurgitation of stomach acid and stomach contents
- Problems swallowing
- Bad breath
Usually, GERD is worse after meals and after going to bed, particularly if you lie flat on your back as you sleep. Some people wake up with regurgitation and pain.
Why do people get GERD?
The Cleveland Clinic further explains that most people age 40 and older have some degree of acid reflux disease. Over time, the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach becomes incompetent and allows a backwash of acid into the food pipe.
Some people also have a hiatal hernia, a bulging of the stomach through the diaphragm, the muscle which assists the lungs in breathing. Smoking, being pregnant, and obesity contribute to reflux, too.
Should you see a gastroenterologist?
At Houston Digestive Disease Consultants, our physicians wish to see patients when their symptoms are persistent, particularly if you experience unintended weight loss and problems with swallowing. Unfortunately, GERD can lead to stomach and esophageal erosions (ulcers) and strictures and a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett's Esophagus.
Consult with one of our GI doctors for a physical exam and review of your symptoms and medical/prescription history. Depending on your unique case, he may recommend imaging tests such as endoscopy, which visualizes the interior of the food pipe, or esophageal monometry, which evaluates how well the esophageal sphincter operates.
Treating acid reflux
In his Houston office, your gastroenterologist will tailor a treatment plan aimed at symptom reduction and prevention of serious, long-term problems. Aspects common to many plans are:
- Weight reduction
- Diet modification (less chocolate, coffee, fatty/acidic foods)
- Medications (H2 agonists or proton pump inhibitors)
- No smoking
- Raising the head of the bed six to eight inches
- Wearing clothes which are loose at the waist
- Limiting alcohol
Find out more
At Houston Digestive Diseases Consultants, our gastroenterologists handle a wide range of GI problems. With their help, you can manage your acid reflux symptoms. Call one of our three locations for an informative and helpful consultation. Phone the Memorial Hermann Southwest location at (713) 777-2555. For Simon Tower, call (713) 796-8627, and for the Memorial Hermann Greater Heights office, phone (713) 880-8707.