Medical Management of Acid Reflux
Chances are, you’ve already tried changing your eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight in an effort to curb your persistent heartburn, but you’re still finding no relief. Over-the-counter medications may prove effective if your symptoms are occasional. If your symptoms do not respond to lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, you may need to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lotsu for testing and treatment.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
In addition to abdominal discomfort usually referred to as heartburn, you may be experiencing the following symptoms:
- Bloody or black stools
- Bloody vomiting
- Dysphagia—the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
- Weight loss
- Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, chronic sore throat
Think you have Acid Reflux?
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Eating habits (large meals and snacks before bed) may be the guilty party behind your heartburn. Obesity, certain foods such as tomatoes, garlic, and citrus, and beverages, like coffee, alcohol, and carbonated drinks, are other common causes of acid reflux. A lesser known cause, however, is a hiatal hernia, a stomach abnormality that allows acid to move up into your esophagus. A complete evaluation by Dr. Lotsu will help determine the ideal treatment plan for you.
Over-the-counter medications options for acid reflux may include:
- Antacids that neutralize stomach acid may provide quick relief. We recommend limiting your use of these medications because they can have serious side effects if taken over a long period of time.
- Medications that reduce acid don’t act as quickly but provide longer relief.
- Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus are the strongest over-the-counter options and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal.
The first step in finding a cure for your acid reflux is scheduling a consultation with Dr. Lotsu. He will ask you questions and gather a careful history to establish the diagnosis of Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD). At that point, he may prescribe stronger medications or recommend a surgical procedure, such as an upper endoscopy , a Bravo pH capsule study, an esophageal manometry, or an X-ray of your upper digestive system.
Prescription medications for GERD may include:
- Prescription-strength H-2-receptor blockers are typically well-tolerated by our patients but do have the possibility of losing effectiveness over time called tachyphylaxis.
- Prescription-strength proton pump inhibitors are also usually well-tolerated and can be considered long-term if needed.
- Medication to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter would encourage proper function.
When medications don’t help or you’re not comfortable with long-term medication use, surgery options include:
- Upper Endoscopy: a thin tube with camera on the end is used to take pictures of your digestive tract.
- Bravo pH capsule study: a capsule transmits pH information wirelessly to a receiver that monitors how frequently stomach contents are refluxing back into your esophagus.
- Esophageal manometry: a test that measures rhythmic muscle contractions to show if the esophagus is working properly.
- Fundoplication: the process of tightening the muscle and preventing reflux by the wrapping of the top part of the stomach around the lower esophageal sphincter during a minimally invasive procedure.
- LINX device: also a minimally invasive procedure, this small magnetic ring is placed around the junction of the stomach and esophagus, facilitating a closing to acid and an opening to food.