Are Heartburn and Acid Reflux Impacting Your Life?

The heart has nothing to do with heartburn. Heartburn is mild to severe pain caused by digestive issues. While this issue is quite common and experienced by millions of Americans, that doesn’t change how uncomfortable it is. Do you feel a sharp burning sensation behind your breastbone that moves upwards toward your neck and throat after eating? Does bending over or lying down only make you feel worse?

Heartburn is the main symptom of acid reflux and its chronic and more severe counterpart gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Finding out what is causing your heartburn could be your first step toward relief. At Houston Sinus & Allergy, you can meet acid reflux and GERD doctors in Houston who can help you find treatment that works.

What Are Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?

Heartburn, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease are terms that are frequently used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion. While they can be interrelated, they are also different.

Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux and GERD. Many patients describe their heartburn as a burning sensation or sharp discomfort behind their breastbone. In order to digest food, your stomach produces a strong acidic solution. When your digestive system is functioning normally, a circular muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) between your stomach and esophagus opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and then closes to prevent stomach acid from moving up.

If the LES is weakened or doesn’t tighten properly, acid can flow back into the esophagus, producing the pain and symptoms associated with acid reflux. GERD is a chronic and more severe form of acid reflux that occurs when you experience heartburn more than twice a week or experience inflammation in your esophagus.

What Can Cause Acid Reflux and GERD?

The weakening of the LES is the leading cause of both acid reflux and GERD. If you are experiencing chronic heartburn and acid reflux, your doctors may examine your long-term habits and parts of your anatomy that could be contributing to your condition. Some of the most common causes of both acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease include:

  • Overweight or obese, causing extra pressure on the stomach
  • Abnormality of the diaphragm, your breathing muscle, called a hiatal hernia, that reduces pressure in the LES
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Certain foods and drinks, such as fatty or spicy food, coffee, tea, mint and chocolate
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications known to weaken the LES, such as some pain relievers, sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines and calcium channel blockers

What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux and GERD?

Both acid reflux and GERD share many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Burning sensation in the chest and throat
  • Belching or hiccuping frequently after eating
  • Sore throat or throat irritation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Foul taste in mouth or back of the throat

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, there may be a few additional symptoms, such as:

  • Bad breath
  • Regurgitating food
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Tooth enamel erosion
  • Severe chest pain sometimes mistaken for a heart attack

Acid Reflux and GERD Treatment in Houston

If you are struggling with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, it’s time to meet a specialist. At Houston Sinus & Allergy, our specialist Dr. Nguyen has extensive experience treating patients struggling with heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. These conditions can lead to other more serious complications, so it’s important to see a doctor to discuss your treatment options.

Mild or moderate acid reflux can often be addressed with nonsurgical options such as lifestyle changes and medication. However, some patients who don’t respond to these measures may require a minimally invasive surgical procedure to support and tighten the LES or treat the underlying cause, such as a hiatal hernia.

If you live in Houston, Jersey Village, Cypress or the surrounding area, book your assessment with our experienced ENT doctor. Dr. Nguyen can evaluate the severity of your acid reflux and discuss the right treatment options for you. Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns.

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