Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Information
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux, affects millions of Americans in various stages of life. This digestive disease occurs when stomach acid rises into the esophagus as a result of a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that opens to allow food to flow into the stomach when you swallow. Repeated backwash of stomach acid can irritate the esophagus and potentially cause heartburn, chest pain, dry cough, a sour taste sensation, and other disruptive symptoms.
There are several factors that can contribute to the onset of GERD. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of experiencing acid reflux, along with people who are obese or who have diabetes, asthma, or scleroderma. Smoking can also play a role in the development of this condition.
Many people with mild cases of GERD are able to manage their discomfort and reduce heartburn episodes through relatively simple lifestyle modifications and healthy practices. These include:
- Eating smaller meals
- Losing excess weight
- Avoiding food and beverages that are known to cause heartburn, such as fatty or fried foods, alcohol, and caffeine
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding laying down immediately after a meal
However, since acid reflux symptoms like chest pain can be indicators of more serious conditions, it’s always wise to have your symptoms evaluated by a physician. Also, be sure to seek professional care if your symptoms do not respond to self-care measures. GERD treatment options range from medications that reduce acid production to surgery to reinforce the lower esophageal sphincter. When lifestyle changes and medicine fails to manage your symptoms and damage from GERD, surgery becomes an option.
TGH now offers Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation utilizing the LINX procedure. This is one of the newest devices for controlling reflux. The LINX® System is a small, flexible ring of magnetic, titanium beads placed just above the stomach around the esophagus using laparoscopy, which is a minimally invasive technique commonly used in various procedures. The magnetic bracelet opens and closes to let food pass through but resists regurgitation of acid and gastric contents from below. The entire procedure typically takes less than an hour and patients are discharged either the same or next day and can resume a normal diet.
The Tampa General Hospital Endoscopy Center offers comprehensive care for patients with GERD and other esophageal and gastrointestinal issues. Thanks in part to the expertise of our physicians and advanced surgical techniques, TGH was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology and GI Surgery in 2019-20.
To easily locate a specialist who can treat GERD, take advantage of TGH’s online Physician Finder or call 1-800-833-3627.