Dear Doctor: GERD and Reflux
In our ongoing efforts to bring health and wellness new to our readers, Katy Christian Magazine is happy to feature an article by Dr. Dharmendra Verma. He addresses the topic of GERD and reflux, which affects many people in our community.
What is Heartburn or GERD?
Heartburn or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach contents such as acid or occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of stomach contents irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD symptoms and signs.
What causes GERD (Heartburn)?
GERD is usually caused by a incompetency of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the end of esophagus (food pipe). In a healthy person, LES prevents stomach acid, duodenal bile, and gastric contents from traveling back into the esophagus where they can cause burning and inflammation of sensitive esophageal tissue. Many factors predispose and contribute to heartburn such as Hiatal hernia, obesity, increased gastric acid production and use of medications such as NSAIDS (Aleve, Motrin etc.) and certain other commonly used medications
What are the symptoms of GERD?
GERD usually is manifested by a sour or bitter liquid coming into the mouth (also known as “regurgitation” or “water brash”). Other less common symptoms are difficulty in swallowing or painful swallowing, chest pain, throat problems, such as laryngitis, sore throat, feeling of fullness in the throat, choking at night and altered voice. Infrequently, some rare symptoms may involve other organs such as the lungs, which might include wheezing, frequent pneumonia, damaged airways or chronic asthma.
Except for occasional symptoms, recurrent or long term presence of any of the above mentioned symptoms may necessitate evaluation by your physician. Treatment of GERD is frequently in conjunction with gastroenterology subspecialist.
What is the treatment for my Heartburn (GERD)?
Occasional GERD can be managed by lifestyle changes, elimination of risk factors and over the counter antacids or short course of acid production blocking medications. More persistent or recurrent symptoms warrant evaluation for underlying etiology and specific treatment.
Based on presence of underlying condition, medical and/or surgical interventions aimed at decreasing acid reflux and healing of the esophagus are instituted. These treatment plans not only help in alleviation of bothersome GERD symptoms, they also prevent long-term complications such as peptic stricture.
Long standing GERD also predisposes patients to certain precancerous conditions, such as Barrett’s esophagus, which may warrant evaluation and management.
Dr. Dharmendra Verma is a Board Certified Gastroenterologist with expertise in management of GERD and other esophageal disorders. His expertise also includes the treatment of colorectal diseases, colon cancer screening, management of liver disease and treatment of Hepatitis B and C.
As a faculty member of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Dr Verma is conveniently providing patient care at UT Physicians at Cinco Ranch located at 23923 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Katy, TX 77494. To schedule an appointment, please call 713-486-5300.