Most people believe that GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is something they can manage with over-the-counter medication. However, there are times when you should see your GI doctor about your symptoms. When to see a GI doctor for acid reflux? Read on to find out!
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD as it is commonly called, is a chronic disorder that occurs when digestive acids and food particles leak through the valve between the stomach and esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Normally, this valve acts as a one-way tunnel, keeping digestive acids and other stomach contents where they belong. As a result, the acid refluxes back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn or pain in the chest area.
Symptoms of GERD
Some of the common symptoms that may indicate GERD are heartburn, regurgitation (food coming back into the mouth), difficulty swallowing, pain or discomfort in the chest area, persistent coughing, and hoarseness. These symptoms can be felt anytime during the day but tend to be worse at night while lying down. Some patients do not experience symptoms or have them so minimally that they are unaware of their condition. Therefore, it’s best to test for GERD.
How to Prevent GERD?
1. Healthy Diet
First and foremost, always follow a healthy diet. This includes avoiding fatty foods as well as those containing caffeine or alcohol. Also, be aware of foods that may cause your GERD to flare up, such as oranges, apples, mint flavorings, and chocolate.
2. Lose Weight if Necessary
If you are overweight, losing weight should be your number one goal. If you are significantly overweight, then this will definitely put extra pressure on the stomach and its contents, forcing them up into the esophagus.
3. Avoid Eating Three Hours Before Bedtime
Stay away from eating three hours before bedtime because the body needs at least three hours after eating before lying down.
4. Elevate the Head of Your Bed
Elevating the head of your bed 6-8 inches will allow gravity to assist in digesting food and also prevent any food from coming back up into your esophagus.
5. Eat at Least Four Hours Before Exercise
Do not eat for at least four hours before exercising because food can come back up into the esophagus and into your mouth. Also, the intensity of exercise may increase heartburn symptoms.
When to see a gastroenterologist for acid reflux?
Many cases of GERD can be treated at home by following general lifestyle changes and taking over-the-counter medications such as antacids. However, if you do not experience improvement within 2 weeks or if your symptoms become more severe, it is best to see a gastroenterologist (a doctor that specializes in stomach problems). They will be able to diagnose GERD and recommend a treatment plan for you.
Treatment Options for GERD
There are many options available for treating gastroesophageal reflux disease in las cruces. If you have infrequent reflux, you may be able to manage your symptoms with self-care measures or lifestyle changes. However, if you experience frequent heartburn, you will need to speak with your doctor about additional treatments. They may recommend losing weight, avoiding foods and medicines that trigger heartburn, quitting smoking, and reducing stress in your daily life. If lifestyle changes do not ease or stop your symptoms, they may prescribe medication to treat the condition.
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, it is important to see a GI doctor for gastroesophageal reflux disease.