Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Thibodaux, LA

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) describes the result of chronic acid reflux in an individual. Acid reflux is a singular episode or instance of acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus, also referred to as heartburn.

An individual is typically diagnosed with GERD when acid reflux occurs in mild cases one or fewer times a week or when moderate-to-severe acid reflux occurs at least two times per week. GERD can develop at any point in a person's life, but it often presents around the age of 40. If left untreated, there is a chance of developing another GI condition known as Barrett's esophagus. If you believe that you may be suffering from GERD, we strongly recommend that you request a consultation with a GI specialist at a Digestive Health Center location in Thibodaux, LA as soon as possible.

When we consume food, that food passes through the esophagus, past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into to the stomach. When the LES is compromised, it can weaken and fail to prevent stomach acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. Usually, there is not an individual catalyst that leads to this occurring repeatedly. However, you are at greater risk of developing GERD if you meet any or all of the following:

  • Consume spicy foods
  • Use of alcohol
  • Consume large meals late at night
  • Pregnancy
  • Hiatal hernia (when the upper portion of the stomach extends into the diaphragm)
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Eat raw onion or garlic
  • Coffee consumption
  • Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
  • Lie down often after eating

The common symptoms of GERD are similar to those of acid reflux, but they will likely occur more frequently. These symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bloating
  • Chronic cough
  • Regurgitation of sour liquids or food
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Laryngitis
  • Lump-in-the-throat sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Asthma

We encourage you to seek medical care at a Digestive Health Center location immediately if you are presenting any of the above symptoms, are in pain, or if you take over-the-counter heartburn medication more often than twice a week.

Managing GERD may include lifestyle modifications, medical treatment, or both. Treatments to prevent or alleviate GERD in Thibodaux, LA patients include:

  • Sleep on an incline
  • Remain awake and stand up after eating
  • Fundoplication (surgery performed to wrap the stomach around the LES)
  • Non-prescription antacids
  • Eat slowly and in moderation
  • Medication to strengthen the LES
  • Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
  • Avoid smoking
  • Do not eat at least two hours prior to going to bed
  • Lose excess weight
  • LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the area where the stomach and esophagus meet)
  • Tell your gastroenterologist about any medications you take
  • Minimize caffeine/coffee intake
  • Avoid foods and drinks prone to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
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How can I tell if I have GERD or acid reflux?

The distinction between GERD and acid reflux may seem confusing. However, GERD is acid reflux that occurs more frequently for an extended duration of time. Should you have heartburn or further symptoms daily or several times throughout the week, or you experience symptoms that won’t fade with over-the-counter options, you may be suffering from GERD.

Is there any food I should stay away from if I am dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Food that increases the development of acid in your belly are encouraged to be avoided after you are diagnosed with GERD. Some examples of these foods are:

  • Citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Sugary foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coffee, pop, and other highly caffeinated beverages
  • Foods high in fat
  • Red meat

Our Digestive Health Center team of GI providers can give you more information on other foods to steer clear from if you suffer from GERD.

Will GERD shorten your lifespan?

GERD is not considered life-threatening. It might make day-to-day tasks a bit harder from time to time, but you should be able to find some relief with a good treatment plan. If untreated, GERD could lead to additional gastrointestinal conditions. A few examples involve esophagitis (irritation of the lining of the esophagus) and Barrett’s esophagus, a disease that may damage the esophagus (the tube that links the mouth and stomach). Receiving the care needed for this disease can help safeguard your GI health and wellness.

How long might it take for GERD to resolve after starting treatments?

There are a few factors that affect how long it can take before you feel better if you experience gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some factors include the kind of medicine you’re taking, how much damage has been caused by your GERD prior to diagnosis, and how well you follow a diet that excludes food that worsens your symptoms. With that being said, with proper care, you will likely begin to see your symptoms lessen as time goes on. Although you may not be able to get rid of GERD, you can potentially be able to manage its symptoms effectively.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a very common condition affecting the lives of many people. With proper medical treatment, however, it can be managed and its uncomfortable symptoms alleviates. If you or someone you know is dealing with GERD, the board-certified team of GI providers at your closest Digestive Health Center location is here to help. Please request a consultation at one of our locations to receive treatment for GERD in Thibodaux, LA.

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