Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in New Orleans, LA
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What is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is the term we use to describe what we see as the result of the common presentation of acid reflux in a person's everyday life. Acid reflux is defined by an individual occurrence or instance of acid regurgitation from the stomach into the esophagus, described as heartburn.
An individual is typically diagnosed as having GERD when acid reflux is experienced in mild cases one or fewer times a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux happens at a minimum of two times per week. GERD may present at any time in life, but it often presents at around age 40. If left untreated, patients can eventually develop a complication referred to as Barrett’s esophagus. If you think you might be suffering from GERD, we strongly recommend that you request an appointment with a gastroenterologist at a local Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans, LA as soon as possible.
What causes GERD?
Whenever one chooses to ingest food, it migrates through the esophagus, past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and then to the stomach. Anytime the LES is compromised, it can weaken and fail to stop stomach acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. In most cases, there is not a lone cause that leads to this occurring more often, still, an individual is at greater odds to have or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease when you meet any or all of the following criteria:
- Eat large meals late at night
- Use of alcohol
- Consume spicy foods
- Being pregnant
- Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
- Drink coffee
- Use of tobacco
- Lie down often after eating
- Consume raw onion or garlic
- Hiatal hernia (when the upper portion of the stomach extends through the diaphragm)
What are the major symptoms of GERD?
The major symptoms of GERD are similar to acid reflux but may occur more often. Those symptoms can include:
- Persistent cough
- Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
- Lump-in-the-throat sensation
- Unintentional weight loss
- Poor-quality sleep
- Chest pain
Please request a consultation with a gastroenterologist at a local Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in your community as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms frequently, are in pain, or if you self-medicate with OTC heartburn medication more than two times per week.
How is GERD treated?
Managing GERD may consist of lifestyle modifications, medical intervention, or a combination of both. Treatment approaches to help prevent or minimize GERD in New Orleans, LA patients can include:
- Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
- Remain awake and stand up after eating
- Eat slowly and in moderation
- Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter
- Do not eat a minimum of two hours before bedtime
- Lose excess weight
- Fundoplication (surgical procedure wrapping the stomach around the LES)
- Avoid foods and beverages prone to causing acid reflux
- Non-prescription antacids
- LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus)
- Quit smoking
- Sleep on an incline
- Minimize coffee/caffeine intake
- Inform your gastroenterologist about any medications you take
How do GERD and acid reflux differ?
The distinction between acid reflux and GERD is sometimes confusing. However, GERD is merely acid reflux that happens more than once a week for a prolonged period of time. If you deal with heartburn or other symptoms daily or multiple times throughout the week or have symptoms that don’t decrease with over-the-counter methods, gastroesophageal reflux disease could be to blame.
Are there any foods I should stay away from with GERD?
Foods that escalate the production of acid in your stomach should likely be avoided if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some examples include:
- Coffee, soda, and other highly caffeinated beverages
- Foods containing salt and pepper
- Foods high in fat
- Red meat
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, etc.)
- Sugary foods
- Spicy foods
The team at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates can provide additional details on foods to remove from your diet if you have this condition.
Is GERD life-threatening?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is typically not life-threatening. While it might make daily tasks more uncomfortable at times, you should be able to find relief with professional care. If not treated, gastroesophageal reflux disease may lead to additional health concerns. These might involve Barrett’s esophagus, a disease that can damage the esophagus (the structure that connects your mouth to your stomach), and esophagitis (inflammation of the esophageal lining). Seeking the treatment needed for GERD can help safeguard your GI health and wellness.
How long will it take for GERD to improve after starting treatment?
Several factors can impact how long it might take for GERD to improve once treatment begins. These can include the type of medicine you take, the amount of damage caused by the disease, and dietary factors (such as avoiding foods that exacerbate symptoms). With treatment, symptoms tend to lessen as time goes on. Even though you might not be able to get rid of GERD completely, you should be able to manage its effects.
Find real relief from GERD
GERD is an extremely common issue affecting the day-to-day lives of numerous individuals. With appropriate medical treatment, however, it can be well-managed and its unpleasant symptoms alleviated. If you or a loved one is struggling with GERD, the experienced team of gastroenterologists at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates is here to help. We encourage you to request a consultation at a practice near you to receive the best treatment available for GERD in New Orleans, LA.
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