According to estimations, 60 million individuals in the United States suffer the burning, fiery symptom referenced as “heartburn” at least once each month. Although many do not imagine them when picturing normal heartburn sufferers, teens, children, and babies are among those included in that number. For roughly 20% of individuals, heartburn is a symptom of a more concerning problem known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a condition that can significantly interfere with the health and wellness of those who experience it. Should you or someone you love notice frequent or significant symptoms pertaining to acid reflux, contact Austin Gastroenterology to consult a gastroenterologist who offers GERD treatment in Austin, TX.
What causes GERD to occur?
Situated at the bottom of your esophagus (where it joins the stomach) lies a ring of muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When you ingest food or liquids, the LES opens to permit the contents to flow into the stomach before closing again to block stomach acid from regurgitating back up. When this muscle fails, the acid can move up into the esophagus, resulting in a fiery sensation (heartburn) and possibly an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that can arise in patients who commonly have problems with acid reflux. Over the course of time, ongoing exposure to stomach acid can cause lasting damage to the lining of the esophagus. This may cause discomfort and an elevated risk for other issues concerning your esophagus.
Though GERD is not generally a product of any single trigger, there are a range of things that could give rise to ongoing acid reflux in adults and children. These include:
- Smoking (or exposure to secondhand smoke)
- Consuming spicy or high-acidity foods
- Consuming large meals
- Lying down after eating
- Being overweight
Younger individuals (particularly infants) may also be more susceptible to acid reflux simply because the muscles in their digestive system are not as developed.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
GERD generally causes many of the same symptoms as acid reflux, but they may be felt more often (at least two times per week at moderate-to-severe intensity). other signs and symptoms occur in time as a result of ongoing acid reflux. The most common symptoms of GERD in adult patients include:
- Frequent heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
- Hoarse voice or sore, raw throat
- Foul breath
- Unproductive cough
- Sensation of food stuck or a lump in the throat
- Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
In addition to the points listed above, indications of GERD in children may include:
- Recurring episodes of vomiting or nausea (after infancy)
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Breathing problems, such as wheezing and/or coughing
- Refusing to feed (in infants)
It is especially important to seek treatment for GERD in kids before it causes a concern that affects their health and long-term growth. Should you or your child notice signs or symptoms that could stem from ongoing acid reflux, request a visit with an Austin Gastroenterology GI doctor as soon as possible to review your options for treating GERD.
How is GERD generally detected and treated?
Our Austin, TX gastroenterology specialists might evaluate your symptoms and check your esophagus for indications of gastroesophageal reflux disease utilizing a pH probe or an endoscope. If you are diagnosed with the disease, our team might recommend certain lifestyle modifications, which might involve avoiding certain foods that induce acid reflux, weight loss, standing or sitting upright after eating, or quitting smoking.
Your GI physician may additionally prescribe medications to minimize acid or strengthen the LES to keep stomach acid out of the esophagus. For some patients, a surgical approach could be necessary to repair the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. Treatment for GERD in kids or adults can vary on a case-by-case basis, making it vital to consult a digestive health expert to ensure you get the proper treatment for your health.
Find help for GERD in patients of all ages
Acid reflux signs and symptoms are common, but they might be the start of a larger health problem without care. the skilled gastroenterologists at Austin Gastroenterology are pleased to provide a range of solutions to treat GERD in children and adults. To learn more about the causes of GERD or for treatment for GERD in Austin, TX please request a consultation with our GI team.