Often after a heavy meal, many people experience heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest that can be worse when bending over or lying down. If these symptoms persist for too many days in a row, or become more severe, it is possible that there is something more going on in your digestive tract. Sometimes digestive juices, or stomach acids, together with a little of the food being digested, can be burped up a little, or regurgitated. This happens when there is a spontaneous opening of the LES, a ring that acts like a valve to keep the food in the stomach and prevents it from going up the esophagus and back into the mouth. This “burping up” is called gastro esophageal reflux (GER), more commonly known as acid reflux. More serious is GERD, for which you should seek medical attention, and its symptoms include:
- Persistent reflux that occurs more than two times each week. If you notice heartburn or reflux happening more often than twice a week, make a note of it on your calendar or in your phone to keep track of the occurrences. Also make a mental note if the symptoms are worsened when you lie down or bend over.
- Heartburn accompanied by a persistent cough or even some wheezing. Often a persistent cough during the night can be caused by GERD. You will want to report this coughing or wheezing when you consult with a physician.
- Daily episodes of heartburn for two weeks or more. Are you reaching for the antacids or your over-the-counter medicine of choice to treat heartburn for fourteen days in a row?
- Heartburn symptoms that are no longer relieved by your over-the-counter medicine. This is a guideline to determine if the heartburn is more severe.
- Trouble swallowing or pain when swallowing with or without heartburn.
There is a wide range of solutions to treat GERD, from lifestyle or dietary changes, to prescription medicine or medical procedures. If you suspect you may have GERD, it is prudent to make an appointment with a physician at South East Valley Gastroenterology. The professional staff there can evaluate your symptoms and make a plan for treatment to resolve them. They are specialists in digestive care. The staff includes a team of doctors, including Dr. Manish Amin, who was recognized as a 2015 Top Doctor by PHOENIX magazine, and Dr. Sandeep Patel who was awarded the Dignity-Chandler Regional Medical Center Doctor of the Month April of this year. Contact SEVG by phone at 480 899-9800 or through the website at sevgastro.com.