Your gastrointestinal health needs diligent care. If you suffer from heartburn (also called acid reflux or GERD), don't ignore the pain, burning sensation, difficulty swallowing, and pressure. Contact Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease in Anchorage or Eagle River. Dr. Boisen, Dr. McClendon, and Dr. Molloy are board-certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine. They can help you manage this potentially damaging condition.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is the nickname for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, the back-up of stomach contents and acid into the esophagus after a meal. Increasing in frequency with age and obesity, GERD causes considerable discomfort, a burning sensation in the area of the breastbone and mimics heart attack pain in intensity.
While many people choose to just live with heartburn and take over the counter medications for relief, your Anchorage gastroenterologists stress that no one should downplay or ignore reflux symptoms which last more than a week or so. The American College of Gastroenterology agrees, saying that repeated episodes of GERD may lead to:
- Erosions, ulcers and strictures in the esophagus
- Asthma-like symptoms (coughing most notably)
- Persistent chest discomfort
- Barrett's Esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition in which the cells lining the esophagus change to resemble those lining the stomach
- Esophageal and stomach cancer
As such, always mention heartburn symptoms to your primary care physician who may recommend evaluation by the team at Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease.
Drs. Molloy, McClendon and Boisen fully evaluate their patients regarding heartburn symptoms, asking about intensity, frequency and what may precipitate an attack. The gastroenterologist often advises physical examination via upper GI endoscopy (a lighted scope and video imaging) or video capsule endoscopy which sends imaging via a tiny camera which travels through the entire GI tract. These results will tell him the extent of your condition, show him any changes--cancerous or not--and help him tailor a care plan suited to your needs.
Common treatments for heartburn, include:
- Limiting acidic and fatty foods
- Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight
- Wearing loose clothing (particularly at belt level)
- Elevating the head of the bed
- Practicing good posture
- Not eating for three hours before going to bed
- Taking proton pump inhibitors, such as Prilosec, and H2 inhibitors, such as Zantac
Feel better and be healthier
Be well informed on your acid reflux, and allow the experts at Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease help. For a consultation with one of our gastroenterologists, please call for an appointment at either our Anchorage or Eagle River, AK, offices at (907) 569-1333.