Heartburn--it's that uncomfortable, irritating pain in the center of your chest after you eat. Also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, heartburn affects people of all ages. When heartburn persists, your gastroenterologists in Anchorage and Eagle River, AK can help. At Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease, Dr. Ronald Boisen, Dr. Daryl McClendon and Dr. Jeffrey Molloy understand heartburn and how best to prevent it and treat it.
Why heartburn happens
Maybe your Grandpa called it "backup," and he was right. GERD symptoms happen when stomach contents, including acid, back up into the food pipe, or esophagus.
Why does this occur? A weak esophageal sphincter, the gateway between the food pipe and the stomach, often is to blame as are:
- A hiatal hernia, when part of the stomach intrudes into the opening in the breathing muscle, or diaphragm
- Spicy, chocolaty, and greasy food choices which irritate the lining of the stomach and make it more active
- Clothes that are too tight at the waistline
- Excessive alcohol use
- Certain medications
What can you do?
Over the counter antacid medications often control heartburn symptoms. However, if symptoms persist beyond two weeks, say physicians at the Cleveland Clinic, see your gastroenterologist in Anchorage or Eagle River.
He may wish to inspect the lining of your esophagus and stomach with an outpatient procedure called an endoscopy. This lighted instrument helps the doctor uncover conditions such as Barrett's Esophagus, ulcers, and other issues which could be causing your heartburn symptoms.
A common care plan
Many heartburn patients respond well to simple lifestyle modifications such as:
- Losing weight
- Wearing clothes which fit properly at the waist
- Stopping all tobacco
- Limiting alcohol
- Stopping food and beverages three hours before bedtime
- Raising the head of the bed a few inches
- Sleeping on the left side to alleviate pressure on the abdomen
- Reducing stress through exercise
- Taking prescribed proton pump inhibitors or H2 antagonists to reduce acid production in the stomach
The American College of Gastroenterology says that at least 60 million Americans experience heartburn. If you're one of them, don't suffer. Contact Alaska Digestive and Liver Disease for an evaluation and help in managing your symptoms. We have two locations to serve you--one in Anchorage and one in Eagle River, AK. Use this number for an appointment at either office: (907) 569-1433. We look forward to seeing you!