Acid Reflux Treatments
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux, or some people refer to it as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), is a process by which the acid in your stomach refluxes into the esophagus.
The 1st line of treatment for GERD is going to be lifestyle changes & diet modifications. If we’ve gone beyond that, then we can introduce medicines that will change the acid in the stomach to minimize the effects of the reflux. Sometimes, that alone will improve the reflux symptoms. Often times, it’ll persist and we have a conversation about what are the other options.
Acid reflux treatment
We start with acid reflux management.
The first treatment management is going to be lifestyle changes & dietary modifications. We’re going to change the way the bed is positioned and put it on a slope. Some patients do well with putting blocks, wooden blocks or brick blocks, at the head of the bed at about a 30 degree slope.
Sometimes we talk about not eating or laying day too late. When your belly is full from a meal and you lay down too soon, that encourages the reflux of the symptoms. We avoid certain foods that cause that lower esophageal sphincter (LES), that muscle, to relax. Examples of foods that can cause reflux symptoms: alcohol, chocolates, caffeine…
Portion control is important when trying to help reduce reflux symptoms. For instance, during pregnancy, the belly is full and that reflux (because of pressure) is pushing up. The same goes when you eat a big meal, sometimes that will also cause reflux symptoms to be exacerbated.
Changing the way we eat, changing the portions, not lying down too soon, and avoiding those foods/drinks that make that muscle not work as well are lifestyle changes and dietary changes that sometimes can help.
What is GERD?
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
GERD happens when acid refluxes into your swallowing tube, what we refer to as the esophagus. We all naturally have some acid that refluxes after we eat. However, GERD is when this acid is abnormal or excessive. Oftentimes, patients have symptoms in association with that. Common symptoms may include:
→ acid taste
→ frequent cough
→ hoarse voice
Heartburn, another name for GERD, is a very common symptom people describe. This is when you have a burning sensation that you feel in the back of your chest near your heart area. Some people feel that they have an acid taste in the back of their mouth, cough frequently or wake up with a hoarse voice. All of these can be signs or symptoms of GERD.
Acid Reflux/GERD Treatments
2 Types of Medications for GERD/Reflux
One is treating the acid that’s already produced and that is what we call antacids. So, those are your Tums, Rolaids, the over-the-counter medications that you can take when you’re having GERD symptoms. They don’t do anything to stop the production of acid, they just treat the symptoms. Oftentimes, they just balance that acid out.
Then, there are medications that actually decrease the production of acid. By in large, those are two categories. One called a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI, and the other is called an H2 blocker. Those directly affect cells within the stomach that produce the acid and cause them to produce less acid, so you have less acid that can reflux up.
Find a GERD Surgeon
General surgeons who specialize in GERD in Tennessee
If you suffer from symptoms of acid reflux or GERD our board certified surgeons are here to help. At The Surgical Clinic, we offer locations throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee – find a GERD surgeon nearest you!