Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Indianapolis, IN

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 Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition created by the long-term effects of acid reflux. 

Acid reflux is a common condition that occurs in many individuals from time to time when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, causing a hot sensation in the chest that we know as heartburn.

An individual who has been diagnosed with GERD experiences acid reflux one or fewer times a week (in mild cases) or moderate-to-severe acid reflux at least twice a week (in moderate or severe cases). GERD may develop at any time in life, but it typically begins close to 40 years of age. If it's neglected, individuals can eventually develop a condition referred to as Barrett's esophagus. If you think that you could be suffering from GERD and are looking for a gastroenterologist in Indianapolis, IN, we encourage you to visit a GI specialist at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology as soon as possible.

When you eat, the food you consume moves through your esophagus and beyond the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to the stomach. Whenever the LES is compromised, it can weaken and fail to prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. Oftentimes, there is not a specific reason that increases the chance of this happening frequently. However, you have an elevated risk of having or developing gastroesophageal reflux disease if you meet one or more of these criteria:

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

The primary signs of GERD are similar to acid reflux symptoms, but they occur more often. Those symptoms can include:

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

We encourage you to request a consultation with a GI specialist at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology today if you notice any of the listed symptoms with any frequency, are in pain, or if you take OTC heartburn medication more often than twice within a week.

GERD treatment often involves lifestyle alterations, medical intervention, or a combination of both. Treatment approaches to help prevent or alleviate GERD can in Indianapolis, IN patients include:

  • Remain awake and stand up after eating
  • Over-the-counter antacids
  • Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter
  • Limit coffee/caffeine consumption
  • LINX® device (magnetic beads wrapped around the junction where the esophagus and stomach meet)
  • Lose weight
  • Fundoplication (surgery performed to wrap the stomach around the LES)
  • Eat in moderation and slowly
  • Inform your GI specialist about any medications you take
  • Prescription-strength antacids (H-2 receptor blockers)
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid foods and drinks prone to cause acid reflux (see the list above)
  • Avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime
  • Sleep on an incline
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How do GERD and acid reflux differ?

The distinction between GERD and acid reflux may seem somewhat unclear. However, GERD is just acid reflux that occurs multiple times a week for an extended period of time. If you suffer from heartburn or further symptoms daily or multiple times within the week, or you have symptoms that won’t diminish with over-the-counter medications, you might be experiencing GERD.

What foods should I stay away from if I have GERD?

Foods that increase the accumulation of stomach acid should possibly be abstained from if you have GERD. Some of these foods include:

  • Red meat
  • Caffeine
  • High-fat foods
  • Citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugary foods

Our Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology team can give you more information on foods to stay away from if you are diagnosed with GERD.

Is GERD life-threatening?

GERD is not considered life-threatening. It can make day-to-day tasks more uncomfortable from time to time, but you should find relief with proper treatment. Without care, GERD could lead to more complicated gastrointestinal issues. Some of these include esophagitis (irritation of the lining of the esophagus) and Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that may damage the esophagus (the structure that joins the mouth to the stomach). Obtaining the care required for this disease can help safeguard your overall health and wellness.

How long will it take for GERD to resolve after treatment?

Certain factors may impact how long it might take to experience relief from gastroesophageal reflux disease. These include the form of medication you take, any damage caused by GERD up until diagnosis, and if you avoid consuming foods that exacerbate your symptoms. With proper care, however, these uncomfortable symptoms should diminish over time. While you may not be able to reverse GERD completely, you should be able to control its effects.

GERD is a commonplace condition that impacts the daily lives of innumerable people. With proper medical treatment, however, it can be well-managed and its uncomfortable symptoms relieved. If you or a loved one suffers from GERD, the experienced team of gastroenterologists at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology is available to help. Please reach out to receive treatment for GERD in Indianapolis, IN.

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