Acid reflux is a common problem that’s usually not a health concern when it happens occasionally. But when it becomes a regular challenge, and your symptoms get worse, you’re at risk of developing a more serious and chronic condition. Houston Regional Gastroenterology has helped many patients in Sugar Land and Humble, Texas, overcome symptoms such as heartburn and get relief from their acid reflux. If you struggle with acid reflux, call one of the offices or schedule an appointment online.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid goes up into your esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Where your esophagus meets the stomach, there’s a round muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
Normally, the LES opens to let food go into the stomach, then closes to stop stomach contents from refluxing back up the esophagus. The primary cause of acid reflux is a weak or damaged LES that lets stomach contents, including strong acid, go into the esophagus.
Anything that increases the pressure inside your stomach can lead to acid reflux. For example, wearing a tight belt, being overweight, overeating, and certain foods and beverages can affect stomach pressure and cause acid reflux.
For most people, acid reflux is an occasional problem that’s easily relieved with over-the-counter antacids. By comparison, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is an ongoing and more severe form of acid reflux. If you have acid reflux more than twice a week for a period of several weeks, or you frequently take antacids, yet your symptoms return, chances are you have GERD.
Heartburn — a burning pain felt in the center of your chest — is the most common symptom of acid reflux, but it’s not the only problem you can develop. Acid reflux may also cause:
Your heartburn is likely to flare up if you lay down within a few hours after eating.
Your treatment for acid reflux begins with medications and lifestyle changes. You may need to avoid foods and beverages that trigger your reflux. You may also improve your symptoms by eating small meals, raising the head of your bed, and losing weight if needed.
Your doctor at Houston Regional Gastroenterology may recommend over-the-counter medications, or they will prescribe a stronger antacid, H2 blocker, or proton pump inhibitor. When your acid reflux gets worse despite medications, or it crosses the line and becomes GERD, your doctor may talk with you about surgical options to strengthen the LES.
If you suffer from acid reflux, call Houston Regional Gastroenterology or schedule an appointment online.