Suffering with Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) Symptoms
Heartburn, acid reflux, swallowing difficulty, regurgitation of food or sour liquid, chronic cough, and disrupted sleep - are among the many painful and annoying symptoms of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, there is a good chance that you have GERD.
If you are attempting to modify your lifestyle, frequently taking antacids or other over-the-counter medication, or if you are like some, prescribed powerful medications that you have been taking for years with no end in sight - yet, still suffer and crave relief, please contact us.
Common GERD Symptoms & Conditions
Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from GERD symptoms on a daily basis. For many, symptoms are mild, but for some, GERD is a daily, severe problem with lifelong implications.
Don't suffer - We're here to help.
Garnet Health Medical Center offers treatment of severe and persistent cases of GERD, heartburn, and acid reflux. Our expert staff understands your suffering and has the capabilities to thoroughly evaluate your condition and deliver an array of treatment choices that will finally provide the relief you deserve.
We have the latest state-of-the-art technologies to test the function of the esophagus, measure acid levels, and evaluate for pre-cancerous conditions. We can then deliver world-class treatment tailored for you, whether it is medications or the latest in minimally invasive surgery.
Talk to your physician or call Garnet Health Doctors at 845-333-7575 for an appointment with a primary care provider.
You feel heartburn when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. This happens when the valve, or “gate,” between the esophagus and stomach functions incorrectly. Heartburn is the most common symptom of a disease called GERD, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
When left untreated, the suffering continues, your esophagus can become irreversibly damaged and esophageal cancer can even result.
Can GERD Cause Cancer?
There is a strong relationship between long standing GERD and the development of cancer of the esophagus. Since 1975, the risk of GERD induced esophageal cancer has increased 600%. This is the fastest increase of any cancer known and less than 15% survive a esophageal cancer diagnosis.
A cancer risk assessment is an important part of the GERD evaluation. If a pre-cancerous condition, called Barrett's esophagus is present, it will be detected in your evaluation. This is very important as it will effect your personalized treatment and follow-up schedule.
What is My Risk of Barrett's Esophagus?
Barrett's esophagus is present in 10 - 15% of GERD patient. This condition is noted by the discovery of visible changes in the esophagus lining, seen during a endoscopic evaluation. A diagnosis is confirmed by obtaining small tissue samples and conducting a biopsy. Barrett's esophagus is a consequence of long standing reflux and is seen in patients as young as in their 20's. Many patient with Barrett's have only mild GERD symptoms. In fact, Barrett's esophagus can be seen in patient experiencing no GERD symptoms at all.
Barrett's esophagus is not cancer, but is associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD; however, everyone is affected differently.
Common Symptoms of GERD
- Chest pain*
- Mild swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)**
Less Common Symptoms
- Chronic cough
- Chronic sore throat
- Dental problems
- Recurrent pneumonia
- Worsening asthma
- Abdominal bloating
- Sleep disturbance
- Sensation of something in the back of your throat (Globus)
- Bad breath
*Chest pain - always seek immediate medical attention for any chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain caused by heart problems must always be ruled out first.
**Mild swallowing difficulties - although difficulty swallowing is often a common symptom of GERD, it can also be a sign of something more serious and should be promptly evaluated.
Available treatments for GERD include lifestyle changes, medication, and minimally invasive surgery.
There are many lifestyle changes that you can make to ease your symptoms of GERD and find relief on a day-to-day basis, including:
- Sleeping with head raised
- Avoiding trigger food, such as fatty, spicy or fried foods.
- Not eating prior to bedtime
- Avoid overeating
- Losing Excess Weight
The goal of a medical therapy of GERD is to suppress the acid. GERD is a chronic disease that may require lifetime therapy and a combination of therapies. For instance, many patients will have a treatment plan that includes a prescription medicine or an over-the-counter medicine, in conjunction with lifestyle recommendations, and annual assessments to monitor your symptoms and the progression of the disease.
Chronic reflux does not resolve itself. Anyone requiring medication for more than several months should be evaluated by a physician. Your GERD symptoms, even with relief from medication, could be an indicator of an underlying serious condition. It is important to understand that GERD is a chronic and progressive disease. It tends to get worse with time and requires lifetime therapy.
There are three classes of GERD medications available:
- Antacids - which work by neutralizing stomach acid. They can provide fast relief from occasional heartburn, but the relief is usually short-term.
- H2 Blockers - which reduce the acid production in the stomach by blocking a signal that leads to acid secretion. These can usually be obtained over the counter.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) - these work by turning off some of the acid pumps in the stomach. They are more effective in decreasing stomach acid production than H2 blockers PPIs are available over the counter and by prescription.
All three classes of medicines will usually improve symptoms, like heartburn, in most people. That said, up to 40% of people will continue to experience symptoms on these medications. Additionally, in the case that medications do provide relief, most patients do not realize that their reflux continues beneath the surface. Feeling better does not mean your reflux is cured! Often, maintaining relief requires these medicines for life and does not reduce the risk of cancer.
Surgical Treatment of GERD
There are other therapies available that a GERD sufferer should be made aware of including minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery that restores the function of the faulty valve, stopping the reflux and eliminating the need for medications. Importantly, stopping the reflux possibly reduces the risk of getting cancer.
Endoscopy & Gastrointestinal Procedures
At Garnet Health, we offer a range of procedures to diagnose gastrointestinal conditions in Orange and Sullivan County, NYLearn More
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