What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a digestive disorder categorized by weakness or damage to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). For most individuals, the LES closes after food passes through. In acid reflux patients, weakness of damage to the LES causes to either open too often or not close all the way, which allows stomach acid to flow into the esophagus. This can cause symptoms associated with acid reflux such as characteristic burning in the chest, stomach, or throat, nausea, bloating, hiccups, or regurgitation of stomach acid.
Patients suffering from acid reflux may find that their symptoms do not reduce in severity in response to over the counter medications. Individuals suffering with acid reflux in the Yonkers, New York area should therefore schedule appointments with the doctors at Gastroenterology of Westchester to receive an assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for their acid reflux related symptoms.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is often caused by hiatal hernia, a condition where a patient’s stomach bulges into their chest through the diaphragm. This causes a situation where the esophageal sphincter is loosened, allowing stomach acid to travel from the stomach to the esophagus.
The doctors at Gastroenterology of Westchester realize that there are a number of other factors that can contribute to acid reflux symptoms. For example, alcohol consumption, consumption of carbonated or caffeinated beverages, acidic, fatty, or spicy foods, smoking, snacking close to bedtime, pregnancy, obesity, overeating, lying down right after a meal, and certain medications can all contribute to acid reflux symptoms.
How Is Acid Reflux Treated?
The doctors at Gastroenterology of Westchester may suggest a combination of both lifestyle changes and medications to reduce the impact of acid reflux symptoms. Common lifestyle changes that are recommended for patients include quitting smoking, eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than larger ones, modifying the diet to avoid foods that trigger acid reflux, eating at least two or three hours before lying down, taking steps to lose weight through exercise, avoiding tight clothing, etc. For medications, doctors may prescribe antacid foaming agents, h2 blockers, prokinetics, or proton pump inhibitors to address issues with the LES while decreasing stomach acid production and the damage it can cause for patients.
Doctors may also recommend surgical options if acid reflux symptoms are not diminished after addressing both lifestyle changes and medication solutions. At Gastroenterology of Westchester, doctors realize that each patient is different, and each individual is provided with a customized treatment plan meant to address their unique list of symptoms and needs moving forward.
Do Acid Reflux Medications Have Any Side Effects?
Antacid medications used to treat acid reflux often contain magnesium salts or calcium. Magnesium can cause diarrhea in some patients, while calcium can cause diarrhea. Side effects can be prevented by taking antacids that contain both. While many people who take proton pump inhibitors exhibit no side effects, some patients may experience headaches, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. If you exhibit any symptoms due to acid reflux medications or are worried about the possibility of experiencing any during treatment, be sure to speak with you doctor at Gastroenterology of Westchester for more information and guidance.