Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Washington
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a term used to illustrate the consequence of commonly occurring acid reflux. Acid reflux is defined by a singular episode or instance of acid regurgitation from the stomach into the esophagus, known as heartburn.
A person is often diagnosed with GERD when acid reflux is experienced in mild cases one or fewer times a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux is experienced at least twice a week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease may occur at any time in life, but it most commonly presents around 40 years of age. If neglected, individuals may develop a health concern called Barrett’s esophagus. If you believe you may be experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease, we urge you to connect with a local gastroenterology specialist in Washington by contacting Washington Gastroenterology as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
When we consume food, that food moves through the esophagus, past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and then to the stomach. Anytime the LES becomes compromised, it can weaken and fail to stop stomach acid from moving back into the esophagus. In most cases, there is not a singular cause that leads to this occurring frequently; however, an individual is at greater odds of suffering from or developing GERD when any of the following criteria are met:
- Eat large meals late at night
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
- Use of alcohol
- Eat spicy foods
- Lie down often after eating
- Eat raw onion or garlic
- Tobacco use
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper portion of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm)
- Coffee consumption
What are the common symptoms of GERD?
The main signs of GERD are similar to acid reflux but may occur more frequently. These symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
- Poor-quality sleep
- Unintentional weight loss
- Persistent cough
Please request a consultation with a GI specialist at Washington Gastroenterology today if you struggle with any of these symptoms regularly and are in pain or if you self-medicate with OTC heartburn medication more often than twice a week.
What are the treatments for GERD?
Managing gastroesophageal reflux disease might consist of lifestyle changes, medical intervention, or a combination of both. Treatment options to help avoid or minimize GERD in Washington patients can include:
- LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus)
- Eat slowly and in moderation
- Minimize coffee/caffeine consumption
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
- Avoid tobacco use
- Lose excess weight
- Over-the-counter antacids
- Avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime
- Sleep on an incline
- Medication to strengthen the LES
- Stay awake and stand up after eating
- Do not eat foods and beverages prone to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
- Fundoplication (surgical procedure performed to wrap the stomach around the LES)
- Tell your gastroenterologist about the current medications you take
How do I know if I have acid reflux or GERD?
The primary differences between the conditions of gastroesophageal reflux disease and acid reflux may be perplexing. However, GERD is merely acid reflux that persists more frequently for a longer duration of time. Should you have heartburn or additional symptoms daily or multiple times within the week, or you have symptoms that won’t seem to fade with over-the-counter medications, it’s possible you are experiencing GERD.
Is there any food I should avoid if I have gastroesophageal reflux disease?
Foods that aid in the development of acid in your stomach are encouraged to be cut from your diet if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some examples are:
- Citrus fruits
- Foods high in sugar
- Spicy foods
- Salt and pepper
- Coffee, pop, and other highly caffeinated beverages
- Foods high in fat
- Red meat
Our Washington Gastroenterology team of GI doctors can give you additional details on the foods to stay away from if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Will GERD shorten your lifespan?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is generally not life-threatening. It could make everyday tasks a bit harder at times, but you should be able to find relief with treatment. If left untreated, GERD may lead to additional GI conditions. Such concerns involve esophagitis (irritation of the lining of the esophagus) and Barrett’s esophagus, which can cause damage to the esophagus (the structure that bridges your mouth and stomach). Undergoing the treatment needed for GERD can help protect your health.
How long might it take for GERD to resolve after treatment begins?
There are some factors that affect how long it can take before you feel better if you experience GERD. Some factors include the kind of medication you are taking, the damage that has been caused by your gastroesophageal reflux disease up until this point, and how well you adhere to a diet without the food that triggers symptoms. That being said, with proper care you may see your GERD symptoms lessen over time. Even though you may not be able toextinguish gastroesophageal reflux disease completely, you can potentially be able to control its effects successfully.
Find relief From GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common concern impacting the lives of millions of individuals. With professional care, however, it can be addressed, and its uncomfortable symptoms minimized. If you or someone you love lives with GERD, the experienced team of gastroenterology specialists at Washington Gastroenterology is here to help. We encourage you to request a consultation at a nearby facility in your community to learn more about treatment for GERD in Washington.
All my questions were answered; Kimberley was very helpful.
Professional and efficient.
Dr. Shayla is a fantastic human being! She took the time to listen to me and read between the lines of what I was saying. Although I thought I was managing my Gerd fine it was obvious that my Gerd was running my life and she heard that through our conversation. We came up with a much better medical plan and thus far its working! Additionally the entire staff is kind, helpful, and wonderful! It was a great first in person visit!
Great team at the reception, great lab personnel and Michelle Hendrickx takes her time listening and prescribing at plan of care you can achieve
The staff was friendly and Dr. Kang was great. He knows his stuff, in and out, and had some good tips and tricks for managing symptoms of GERD and IBS. I had a list of questions, which he happily answered.