Gastroenterology Associates of Beverly Hills
Gastroenterology & Internal Medicine located in Los Angeles, CA
Acid reflux is sometimes known as heartburn, and with good reason, because when you have acid reflux, you get a burning pain that feels like it’s near your heart. If your acid reflux is becoming a constant or worsening problem, the expert team at Gastroenterology Associates of Beverly Hills, in Beverly Hills, California, can help. Acid reflux can lead to more serious complications, so get on top of yours now. Call the practice today or book an appointment online.
Acid Reflux Q & A
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux is also known as acid indigestion or heartburn because it causes a burning pain in your chest roughly where your heart is. Acid reflux has nothing to do with your heart, though; it’s a problem in your esophagus.
Your esophagus is the pipe connecting your throat to your stomach. When you swallow food or drink, it goes down your esophagus and into your stomach, which is full of very strong acid. The acid helps to digest the food, and your stomach has a special lining to prevent the acid from affecting it.
At the top of your stomach is the lower esophageal sphincter, which lets food and water in, but prevents acid from leaving your stomach. If the sphincter gets weak or damaged, stomach acid can start to go back up the esophagus. The burning pain you feel when you have acid reflux is the stomach acid causing inflammation in your esophagus.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
The primary symptom of acid reflux is the familiar burning pain in your chest, but you could also experience:
- Frequent belching
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Mouth flooding with saliva
- Feeling nauseated
- Hoarse voice
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Inflamed gums
Stomach acid can rise into your mouth, causing a bitter taste. If this happens regularly, the acid is powerful enough to erode your teeth.
Although acid reflux isn’t a serious problem, it can become a chronic condition called GERD — gastroesophageal reflux disease. Untreated GERD can cause changes in the esophagus that could eventually lead to esophageal cancer, so you shouldn’t ignore acid reflux.
What causes acid reflux?
Acid reflux is most often due to lifestyle issues, such as:
- Being overweight
- Excessive alcohol
- Certain medications
- Chronic constipation
- Eating fatty or spicy foods
- Drinking caffeine
Acid reflux is a frequent problem during pregnancy. The larger the baby grows, the more it presses on its mother’s internal organs, and the worse her acid reflux is likely to get.
How is acid reflux treated?
For most patients, addressing the lifestyle issues that are causing their acid reflux is the best way to treat the problem. That means eating a healthy diet and avoiding trigger foods or drinks, losing weight, and quitting smoking.
You can take medications like over-the-counter antacids for mild acid reflux. More serious acid reflux needs medicines like proton pump inhibitors that reduce the production of stomach acid.
These measures help most patients recover from acid reflux. However, some patients who have GERD might need to undergo surgery to repair or replace the esophageal sphincter.
If acid reflux is becoming a regular problem, call Gastroenterology Associates of Beverly Hills today, or book an appointment online.