Find out more about the various treatment options for heartburn.
If you have ever felt an uncomfortable burning sensation in your lower chest or throat after eating, you were most likely experiencing heartburn, also known as acid reflux. You might even taste stomach fluid in the back of your throat when you experience heartburn. It is a fairly common condition that occurs when stomach contents leak back into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
GERD Symptoms and Causes
Some people experience heartburn after they eat spicy foods like chili or peppers. Acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus fruits are other common heartburn culprits. If you have persistent heartburn more than once or twice a week, you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Frequent heartburn is the main symptom of GERD. Other symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Asthma symptoms
- Difficulty swallowing
GERD is sometimes due to hiatal hernias, obesity, pregnancy or smoking but it can occur for other reasons. It’s important to remember that when left untreated, GERD can lead to serious complications. Stomach ulcers can occur and scar tissue can eventually form, making it difficult to swallow. In some instances, changes in the esophagus can even lead to esophageal cancer.
Avoiding foods that trigger heartburn and using over-the-counter antacids can provide relief for some people. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as weight loss or quitting smoking. Depending on the severity of your GERD symptoms, your doctor may also recommend prescription medication or specialized medical treatments.
Patients who do not respond to lifestyle changes or medications may be candidates for anti-reflux surgery. Laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery is a popular alternative to traditional open surgery due to reduced surgery risks, no visible scarring and a shorter recovery time. If you have GERD, your doctor will decide what treatments are best for you.