Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Lubbock, TX

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also referred to as GERD, is the term used to describe the effects of chronic acid reflux on an individual's GI tract. Acid reflux refers to an individual episode or experience of acid regurgitation from the stomach into the esophagus.

People are usually diagnosed with GERD when acid reflux occurs in mild cases one or fewer times a week or in moderate-to-severe cases where acid reflux occurs at least twice a week. GERD may develop at any time in life, but it typically presents around 40 years of age. When left untreated, it may progress into a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. If you think that you may be experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease, we encourage you to see a gastroenterology specialist at a Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates location in Lubbock, TX as soon as possible.

When you swallow food, that food moves through your esophagus, past the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and then to the stomach. When the LES becomes compromised, it can weaken and fail to prevent stomach acid from moving back into the esophagus. Usually, there is not one reason that causes those to occur often. You are at greater risk of suffering from or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease if you meet any or all of the below listed criteria:

  • Lie down often after eating
  • Scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder)
  • Pregnancy
  • Eat large meals late at night
  • Consume raw onion or garlic
  • Obesity
  • Drink coffee
  • Alcohol use
  • Eat spicy foods
  • Use of tobacco
  • Hiatal hernia (when the upper part of the stomach bulges into the diaphragm)

The main symptoms of GERD are similar to those of acid reflux but may occur more frequently. Those symptoms can include:

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

We recommend being seen by a GI provider at a Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates near you if you have any of the listed symptoms regularly or are in pain, or if you self-medicate with OTC heartburn medication more often than two times per week.

Managing GERD can consist of lifestyle changes, medical care, or a combination of both. Treatments to avoid or minimize GERD can in Lubbock, TX patients include:

  • Avoid foods and drinks likely to cause acid reflux (see those listed above)
  • Over-the-counter antacids
  • Eat slowly and in moderation
  • Sleep on an incline
  • Medication to strengthen the LES
  • LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus)
  • Lose weight
  • Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
  • Avoid eating at least two hours before going to bed
  • Remain awake and stand up after eating
  • Fundoplication (surgery performed to wrap the stomach around the LES)
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit caffeine/coffee intake
  • Inform your GI doctor about any current medications you are taking
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Do I have GERD or acid reflux?

The difference between acid reflux and GERD may be perplexing. However, gastroesophageal reflux disease is really just acid reflux that happens frequently for a longer period of time. If you experience heartburn or additional symptoms either daily or multiple times throughout the week, or you have symptoms that do not diminish with over-the-counter medications, you could be suffering from GERD.

Are there any foods I should stay away from if I have GERD?

Foods and drinks that promote the production of acid in the stomach should possibly be avoided if you are diagnosed with GERD. Some of these include:

  • Red meat
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Sugary foods
  • Spicy foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Salty or peppery foods
  • Citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges
  • Coffee, pop, and other highly caffeinated beverages

Our team at Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates can provide additional information on foods and drinks to avoid if you suffer from GERD.

Is GERD life-threatening?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is not considered a life-threatening condition. It could make everyday tasks more uncomfortable from time to time, but you can likely find relief with a suitable treatment method. If left untreated, gastroesophageal reflux disease might lead to other conditions. Some of these conditions include esophagitis (irritation of the esophageal lining) and Barrett’s esophagus, which can cause damage the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth and stomach). Undergoing the care required for GERD can help safeguard and preserve your health.

How long does it take for GERD to improve after treatment begins?

Certain factors can impact how long it may take to get relief from GERD if you have this condition. These can include the kind of medicine you take, whether damage has occurred from gastroesophageal reflux disease prior to diagnosis, and if you avoid foods and drinks that elicit symptoms. With treatment, symptoms of GERD will likely decrease over time. Although you might not be able to resolve the condition altogether, you can manage its symptoms effectively.

GERD is a common problem that affects the day-to-day lives of millions of individuals. However, with appropriate medical treatment, it can be managed and its uncomfortable symptoms minimized. If you or someone you know is dealing with GERD, the experienced team of gastroenterology specialists at a Lubbock Digestive Disease Associates location near you is here to help. Please request a consultation at one of our offices to learn more about GERD treatment in Lubbock, TX.

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