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When stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, it can cause a burning sensation known as heartburn. If symptoms occur several days a week, you may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) - also known as acid reflux disease. This chronic condition can irritate the lining of your esophagus.
At The University of Vermont Medical Center, our gastroenterologists focus on improving your symptoms quickly so you can enjoy life again.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Care at UVM Medical Center
The team at the UVM Medical Center provides knowledgeable and compassionate care for GERD. When you see our doctors, you can expect:
- Specialized expertise - Our highly skilled gastroenterologists are committed to excellence in a specific field: Gastroenterology. Their focus means you can be sure you are getting the best possible care for your acid reflux.
- Evidence-based treatment - Our physicians, in addition to working with patients, also engage in research and clinical trials to develop better treatment options. As a university hospital, we can provide the most up-to-date, research-backed care.
Approximately one-third of the U.S. population suffers from GERD. The condition can cause heartburn and acid regurgitation (may cause a sour or bitter taste), persistent cough, snoring, and breathlessness.
If you are experiencing these symptoms several times a week, schedule an appointment with one of the skilled gastroenterologists at the UVM Medical Center.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your health and medical history. Sometimes, a doctor will diagnose GERD by prescribing a medication that reduces stomach acid. If the symptoms lessen or disappear with the use of the medication, GERD is the likely culprit.
Tests may be needed to confirm a GERD diagnosis. The most common diagnostic tests are:
- Barium X-ray - involves drinking a chalky liquid that causes the upper digestive tract to show up in an X-ray image
- Endoscopy - the doctor inserts a thin tube down the throat. The tube has a light and camera on the end of it so that the doctor can see the esophagus and take tissue samples if necessary.
Treatments for GERD
The physicians at the UVM Medical Center will explain your diagnosis and then talk with you to develop treatment options for your GERD that work for you.
Most acid reflux can be treated by simple lifestyle changes:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals - large meals expand your stomach and increase pressure on the esophagus.
- Limit intake of such acid-stimulating foods as orange juice, and fatty foods like french fries and ice cream.
- Don't lie down for about two hours after you eat - gravity helps digestion.
- Elevate the head of your bed a few inches while you sleep.
- Maintain a reasonable weight.
- Don't smoke.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Relax! Stress can trigger symptoms.
Sometimes over-the-counter medications can help reduce symptoms. H2 blockers (like Pepcid), antacids, and proton pump inhibitors (like Prilosec) may cause relief.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to strengthen the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.