For some people, acid reflux is something that happens occasionally. For others, acid reflux is chronic and severe enough to cause problems in day-to-day life.
Gastroenterology specialist Dr. Vikram S. Jayanty helps patients in and around the Houston, Texas, area manage conditions like acid reflux. This common digestive issue typically happens when the muscle that connects the food pipe and the stomach fails to close tightly.
Dr. Jayanty offers personalized treatment for acid reflux. Prompt evaluation is key to getting the help and relief you need so that acid reflux doesn’t interfere with your daily life. Let’s discuss more about acid reflux, why it happens, and what we can do to help you manage it.
When you swallow food, it travels down the food pipe (esophagus) and into the stomach, where digestion continues. A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens when you swallow so that food enters the stomach, and it then closes to keep stomach contents from entering the esophagus.
The LES is the body’s main antireflux muscle, responsible for protecting the food pipe from the acidic contents of the stomach. When this muscle doesn’t work as efficiently as it should, stomach contents escape the stomach and enter the food pipe.
Heartburn is the most recognizable symptom of acid reflux. Stomach acids are designed to dissolve food, which is great for digestion, but also bad for your food pipe should the stomach contents flow into it.
If you have acid reflux, you may experience a burning sensation in the throat or middle of the chest. The pain is usually felt behind the breast bone. Other symptoms include:
These symptoms are usually worse when lying down shortly after a meal. Additionally, certain foods and drinks tend to trigger acid reflux, such as those that are:
Alcoholic beverages, tomatoes, and peppermint also commonly trigger acid reflux.
Left untreated, chronic acid reflux can cause serious complications. Ongoing exposure to acidic stomach contents can cause chronic inflammation of the esophagus. Over time the following issues may arise:
An esophageal stricture occurs when scar tissue forms in the lower esophagus as a result of acid exposure. The scar tissue can narrow the food pipe, making it difficult to swallow food.
Chronic acid reflux can cause an open sore or ulcer to develop when stomach acid wears away the lining of your esophagus. It may begin to bleed, causing pain and swallowing difficulties.
The damage caused by stomach acid in your lower esophageal tissue can cause changes that increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Chronic reflux is typically a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s important to identify the problem causing stomach contents to flow into the esophagus and treat it right away to prevent further damage to the esophagus and serious complications.
After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Jayanty discusses the most appropriate treatment options. GERD is commonly treated with medications to lower stomach acid. Surgery to strengthen the LES is also an option to discuss. Some patients prefer the surgical approach to treating GERD as an alternative to a lifetime of taking medications. Dr. Jayanty helps you determine which treatment is right for you.
Don’t put off getting treatment for chronic GERD. Continuing damage occurs as long as your food pipe is exposed to the stomach’s contents. Get help now by calling our Houston, Texas, office to schedule a visit with Dr. Jayanty.