Researchers estimate that a full one-fifth of Americans have acid reflux today. This frustrating issue can cause a great deal of discomfort — and it can potentially increase your risk of complications like Barrett’s esophagus and even esophageal cancer if untreated. At Imperial Digestive Health Specialists PLLC, board-certified gastroenterology specialist Oforbuike Ewelukwa, MD, MSc, offers advanced solutions for acid reflux. Find out how he can help by calling the Katy, Texas, office or using the online booking feature now.

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What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when your stomach contents, including digestive acids and food, wash up your esophagus and into the bottom of your throat. These highly corrosive stomach acids can cause throat irritation, cause a burning sensation in your breastbone area (heartburn), and other issues.

Occasional acid reflux isn’t unusual, and it’s typically not a major medical problem if you have rare bouts of acid reflux after a large meal. But if you have chronic acid reflux — twice or more a week — you may have a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What are the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD?

Occasional acid reflux may cause just a few symptoms and then resolve fairly quickly. On the other hand, GERD (chronic acid reflux) usually causes quite a few unpleasant symptoms, such as:

  • Heartburn, which usually increases when lying down
  • Lump in your throat
  • Food sticking in your throat
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Frequent belching

If you have any of these issues regularly, it’s important to schedule an evaluation at Imperial Digestive Health Specialists PLLC as soon as you can.

What happens if acid reflux and GERD aren’t treated?

If untreated, GERD can significantly reduce your quality of life. You could develop esophageal ulcers or have esophageal narrowing due to scar tissue buildup. Frequent stomach acid backwash erodes tooth enamel, so it increases your risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.

Around 10-15% of GERD sufferers develop Barrett’s esophagus, a potentially precancerous condition that affects your esophageal tissue. So GERD does slightly increase your risk of esophageal cancer.

With treatment, you can avoid all of these problems and maintain good health and quality of life.

How are acid reflux and GERD treated?

Treatment usually involves some dietary and habit changes as well as medication. Keeping a food diary can help you recognize the foods that trigger your symptoms. Some common trigger foods include fried food, fatty food, citrus fruits, tomato, and alcohol.

The Imperial Digestive Health Specialists PLLC team may also recommend losing weight, quitting smoking, raising the head of your bed, and other changes to greatly reduce your bouts of acid reflux.

There are many different medications to relieve GERD symptoms, but the main two categories of medication are H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. These drugs reduce stomach acid very effectively.

If you have a complication of GERD, such as Barrett’s esophagus, you may need regular monitoring and could require surgical treatment if your condition progresses.

Imperial Digestive Health Specialists PLLC understands how troublesome acid reflux can be, and they’re ready to help. Book your appointment online or by phone now.