Acid Reflux and heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable and painful problems, especially if you find yourself struggling with them on a regular basis. While many people become more prone to random bouts of acid reflux and heartburn as they get older, especially when consuming foods that are high in fat, chronic symptoms may be a sign of a larger problem. Dr. Clifton Thomas, a physician who has specialized in bariatrics for over 25 years, walks us through what each of these problems involve, and how to help alleviate symptoms.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a common condition, characterized by a burning sensation in the lower chest known as heartburn. Typically, as your body digests your food, it travels from your mouth, down your esophagus, and into your stomach. The lower muscles of your esophagus just above your stomach tighten to keep food and digestive acid where it belongs. These muscles are known as your lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

In those who suffer from acid reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter muscles loosen, allowing gastric acid to escape. This is an especially painful and uncomfortable problem, as the corrosive stomach acid then burns the sensitive lining of the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is characterized by acid reflux that occurs at least twice per week. This prolonged acid reflux reduces the LES’ ability to contract, forcing the acid to remain in the esophagus longer, leading to extended burning. Unfortunately this causes scarring, nerve damage, tightening of the esophagus, the formation of ulcers, and bleeding.

Fortunately, reflux can most often be improved through surgical intervention. Currently, there are new surgical developments in reflux surgery, such as the impedance esophageal manometry, to help patients with the most severe symptoms. In patients who qualify, acid reflux surgery is a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Usually, if you’re experiencing acid reflux, you’ll know it. It causes uncomfortable symptoms that include:

  • Belching
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Hoarseness or change in voice
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cough or wheezing
  • Chest pain

How to Help Prevent Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Heartburn and acid reflux can be painful. Preventative and non-surgical treatments for acid reflux include:

  • Diet modification
  • Cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Examination of medications for caffeine, alcohol, etc.
  • Loss of excess weight
  • Avoidance of tight clothing and frequent bending
  • Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated

If these strategies don’t work, it’s time for medical intervention. Dr. Clifton Thomas has performed over 1,000 bariatric procedures with an incredible success rate. Schedule a consultation today, to learn about your options for relief. Dr. Thomas will review your medical history and devise a treatment plan that will work best for you.  Visit townsenclinic.com/dr-clifton-thomas/ or call either of our two convenient Humble or Houston-area locations today.

Learn More About Bariatrics

Dr. Clifton Thomas is not just an expert in acid reflux, but in major weight loss surgery and gastrointestinal health as well. In a future blog post, Dr. Thomas will share his expertise in bariatric surgery in further detail.