Acid reflux is a common condition that causes the familiar pain of heartburn. If your acid reflux has become a severe or chronic problem, you should visit the board-certified gastroenterologists at Illinois Gastroenterology Group in Gurnee, Evanston, Skokie, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, Highland Park, & Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois, for a prompt diagnosis and expert treatment. Acid reflux isn’t normally serious but left untreated, it can lead to more worrying conditions. To prevent these complications and get rid of the pain of heartburn, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group today to schedule a consultation, or book an appointment online.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid travels up your esophagus (windpipe), causing a burning sensation and pain that’s commonly called heartburn.
There’s a ring of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus where it joins your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
The LES allows food and drink to enter your stomach but prevents anything coming back out. Sometimes the LES weakens and doesn’t close properly and stomach acid refluxes into your esophagus.
The problem is that stomach acid is highly corrosive, and while your stomach is designed to resist the effects of the acid, your esophagus isn’t. The acid causes inflammation in the tissues that results in heartburn.
You might also find the acid reflux makes your voice hoarse, gives you a cough, and if it comes into your mouth, the acid can cause tooth decay.
The weakening of the LES that causes acid reflux can arise because of a structural abnormality. However, the primary risk factors for developing acid reflux are:
These causes of acid reflux are all preventable, and the team at Illinois Gastroenterology Group can help you make the changes needed to reduce the effect of lifestyle factors. They can also provide effective treatments for the symptoms of acid reflux.
Lifestyle modifications are crucial to recovery from acid reflux, but you might also need medication to soak up excess stomach acid or reduce the production of stomach acid.
Your provider at Illinois Gastroenterology Group might prescribe antacids, proton pump inhibitors, or H2 receptor blockers.
It’s important to treat acid reflux, as it can become a chronic problem called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD causes constant irritation to the esophageal tissues that can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. This, in turn, can cause esophageal cancer in some people.
Most patients respond to conservative treatment options, but severe, unresponsive cases of acid reflux or GERD might require surgery. Your provider can discuss the options with you, which could include laparoscopic fundoplication to reinforce the LES, or replacing the sphincter with an artificial substitute.
If you have symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group today or schedule an appointment online.