Do you have GERD?

Do you frequently experience any of these symptoms? 

  • Chronic coughing after meals 
  • Chronic belching 
  • Persistent heartburn (a burning sensation in your chest) 
  • Regurgitation of acid 
  • Upset stomach

If you do, or if you regularly depend on TUMS, Maalox, or similar products to prevent them, then it’s likely you have GERD.

What is gastroesophageal reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach acid flows into your esophagus (the tube that transports food from your mouth to your stomach).

If you have GER symptoms more than once a week, you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a long-term condition. Symptoms may disrupt your sleep, which in turn may impair your daily functioning.

GER and GERD can affect anyone and is often the result of a dysfunctional LES (lower esophageal sphincter) at the bottom of the esophagus.

Five Steps to Reduce Your GERD Symptoms

These lifestyle changes can reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms, but they’re not a substitute for seeing a gastroenterologist if symptoms are frequent or severe. 

  1. Lose weight. Excess weight increases pressure on your stomach and can relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). 
  2. Change your diet. Avoid acidic foods, like citrus fruits, wine, and tomatoes; LES irritants like black pepper, peppermint, and coffee; and foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. Swap caffeinated, acidic, and carbonated drinks for water, and eliminate foods systematically to find your triggers. 
  3. Avoid large meals. Large meals can provoke symptoms, particularly if they’re eaten too fast. Eat smaller meals, take small bites, and chew thoroughly before swallowing. Stop eating before you feel completely full. 
  4. Stay upright after eating. Gravity is your friend if you suffer from symptoms of GER, encouraging food and stomach acid to stay put in your stomach. Wait at least 3 hours after eating before reclining or lying down. A gentle walk after a meal may help with digestion. 
  5. Stop smoking. Smoking damages membranes that protect the esophagus, increases acid secretion and reduces lower esophageal muscle function and saliva production (vital for acid neutralization).

When to See a Gastroenterologist

If you’re experiencing symptoms at least once a week or they are severe, see a gastroenterologist. If left untreated, GERD can lead to serious conditions, including Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

A gastroenterologist can use diagnostic procedures such as an upper endoscopy to assess the condition of your esophagus, stomach, and first part of your small intestine. They’ll also assess your family history, personal medical history, lifestyle, and diet to determine possible causes.

Top Gastroenterologists Delivering High-Quality, Affordable Care

At San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates & Endoscopy Centers, every physician is fellowship-trained in gastroenterology  and supported by expert medical staff. Patient experience is a top priority, but great healthcare doesn’t come at a premium—procedures cost a fraction of hospital-based procedures. SAGEC offers convenient drop-off and pick-up, enhanced safety accreditations, and greater privacy.

Visit our website  to learn more about San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates & Endoscopy Centers, or call (210) 775-2265. The expert team will answer all your questions and schedule your appointment.