Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly referred to as acid reflux or heartburn, occurs when the stomach contents flow in reverse up the esophagus, sometimes up to your vocal cords, or even higher. Mostly everyone has experienced reflux, possibly after overeating and laying down or during pregnancy. With over 30 years of experience treating gastrointestinal problems, Audrey J. Woolrich, MD, in New York City’s Upper East Side is an expert in diagnosing and treating reflux. To learn more about what you can do to stop your reflux, call Dr. Woolrich's office or schedule an appointment online today.
The most common signs and symptoms of reflux include, but are not limited to:
All these signs and symptoms may worsen with bending or laying down.
Reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle separating the esophagus and stomach, remains open. Causes of GERD can be divided into two sections:
The most common mechanical causes include:
Non-mechanical causes can include any of the following:
Listening to the patient's complaints and symptoms is usually sufficient to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux.
If symptoms improve with simple lifestyle changes and a short course of over-the-counter treatments, then the diagnosis is usually correct.
Dr. Woolrich might recommend an upper endoscopy to examine the lining of the esophagus and obtain biopsy samples to assess microscopic damage.
Additional studies such as PH testing, esophageal manometry and a barium video-esophagram might need to be performed if the diagnosis is unclear.
If severe or chronic, the backwash of acid and bile can irritate the lining of the esophagus. This may progress to metaplasia, a precancerous change of the tissue known as Barrett's esophagus.
Some other complications of GERD include:
Effective and early treatment with Dr. Woolrich can help you avoid these complications.
Lifestyle changes might be sufficient in treating and preventing gastroesophageal reflux disease but medication might be required.
Lifestyle changes may include:
If lifestyle changes are not sufficient, consider some of the following over-the-counter solutions:
If over the counter medications do not control your symptoms, then Dr. Woolrich will order prescription strength acid reducers or blockers.
Endoscopic and surgical procedures might be needed if the above fail to control the symptoms and complications.
If you have been suffering from reflux, want to discuss your problem, and seek out the appropriate treatment, call Dr. Woolrich at her private office or schedule an appointment online today.