Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn is defined as a burning sensation in your chest that is present just beneath your breastbone. The pain often intensifies as you bend over or lay down. It is estimated that over 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn at least once every month; that is 44% of the U.S adult population. About half of these adults experience acid reflux in addition to their heartburn. Acid reflux disease is a condition also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and it is a common condition in the United States. Acid reflux also occurs in many adults that do not suffer from GERD on a less frequent basis. Acid reflux occurs when acid in the stomach regurgitates and backs up into your esophagus, which is the muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. In many cases, heartburn occurs as a result of acid reflux.
Acid is able to re-enter your esophagus due to a manipulated or weakened esophageal sphincter. The esophageal sphincter is a circular shaped band that is made of muscle. The esophageal sphincter is located around the bottom of your esophagus and its purpose is to aid in the digestion process by allowing liquids and consumed food to progress into your stomach. Once the food enters the stomach the esophageal sphincter is supposed to close, but in many people it does so abnormally and this leads to discomfort in the shape of heartburn and acid reflux.
Heartburn and acid reflux are caused largely by dietary habits. Consuming certain foods and beverages triggers the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux in many adults. Examples of these foods include:
- Tomato sauce and juice
- Orange juice
- Fried foods
- Black pepper
Other demographic factors that contribute to heartburn and acid reflux include weight, age, pregnancy and smoking. The best way to prevent heartburn and acid reflux is to avoid the dietary triggers that prompt the symptoms. If you suffer from frequent heartburn or acid reflux disease, avoiding daily dietary triggers is often difficult. In order to successfully treat frequent heartburn, a combined treatment method that includes counseling, dietary support, patient education and lifestyle training is ideal.
At Gastroenterology Consultants we offer state-of-the-art specialized testing and treatment options that are not widely available in the Northern Nevada area such as the GIVEN capsule and also high resolution esophageal manometry. We are able to offer each of our patients the individual specialized treatment that you deserve.