Almost everyone has heartburn now and then. Unfortunately, heartburn is also the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic disease that causes ongoing pain and burning in the chest and throat. GERD is also called acid reflux disease. Untreated GERD can cause serious health problems. The acid can damage your esophagus and make it hard to swallow. In some people with GERD, the cells in the esophagus can become abnormal. These abnormal cells could lead to cancer of the esophagus, although this is rare.
You should talk to your doctor if:
- heartburn happens 2 or more times a week
- heartburn gets worse
- heartburn happens at night and wakes you from sleep
- you have difficulty or pain when swallowing
- your discomfort or pain interferes with your daily activities
There are several reasons why people have GERD. One possible reason has to do with the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. Normally, this muscle closes to keep food and stomach acid from coming back up the esophagus. In some people with GERD this muscle does not always work right.
There are some diet and lifestyle changes that you can make that can sometimes ease the symptoms of GERD. These include maintaining an upright posture until meals are digested, raising the head of your bed, or inserting a triangular wedge to keep your esophagus above the stomach. Gravity is your friend! Avoid large meals, especially late in the day. Try to make your main meal the mid-day meal.
Other treatments include:
- Endoscopic treatments
If you suffer from GERD which has not responded well to non-surgical treatments, schedule an appointment with Dr. Heidi Ryan to learn about the LINX procedure. You can read more about this innovative treatment for GERD online at: http://www.linxforlife.com/