Are your gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) symptoms under control? If you're still suffering from heartburn, nausea, difficulty swallowing, or other GERD symptoms despite taking over-the-counter medications, it's a good idea to schedule a visit with your Anchorage, AK, gastroenterologists at Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease.
How GERD affects you
GERD symptoms occur when strong stomach acids leak into your esophagus, the tube that transports food to your stomach. Acids may flow backward if the esophageal sphincter is weak or doesn't close properly. The sphincter, a circular muscle located between the stomach and bottom part of the esophagus, opens to let food into the stomach, then closes as soon food reaches its destination.
The backward flow of acids, known as reflux, irritates the sensitive lining of the esophagus, causing chest pain, heartburn, a lump-in-the-throat sensation, bad taste in the mouth, sore throat, coughing, and other symptoms.
You may have GERD if your symptoms occur two or more times per week or are severe enough to affect your lifestyle.
Your gastroenterologist offers treatments that ease GERD symptoms
During your visit to the Anchorage gastroenterology office, your gastroenterologist may recommend a test called an upper endoscopy. The endoscopy allows your doctor to examine and lining of your stomach and esophagus and determine why your symptoms haven't improved with over-the-counter medication.
The minimally invasive test involves passing a thin, flexible scope through your mouth and into your esophagus and stomach while you're sedated. The lighted scope contains a camera that sends images to a digital monitor.
The information learned from the endoscopy helps your gastroenterologist make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Depending on your results, he may recommend different over-the-counter medications than you've tried before or may prescribe prescription medications that block acid production or reduce it or strengthen the sphincter. In severe cases, surgery is may be needed to make the esophageal sphincter stronger.
Your gastroenterologist can also discuss lifestyle modifications that can be helpful. Losing weight, wearing looser clothing, avoiding alcohol and certain foods, or raising the head of your bed may not eliminate your symptoms, but these actions can help reduce symptoms when combined with medication.
Don't let your GERD symptoms control your life! Call (907) 569-1333 to make an appointment with your gastroenterologists in Anchorage, AK, at Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease.