Acid reflux is the backwash of stomach acid from the stomach to the esophagus. If this happens frequently, you may be experiencing a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Those who suffer from acid reflux can manage the condition with methods such as medication and lifestyle changes. If these methods do not work, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Over-the-Counter Medication for Dealing with Acid
If you are experiencing mild to medium reflux, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are a common form of treatment. Medications can do one of two things: neutralize stomach acid or reduce its production.
Antacids are the most common type of medicine that you can take for reflux. These give quick relief from discomfort and pain. Tums, Rolaids, and Pepto-Bismol are some examples. They work by neutralizing acid in your stomach and come in liquid, chewable, and dissolvable tablet forms. While generally safe for most individuals, those with other medical conditions should consult with a physician prior to beginning use.
To reduce the production of stomach acid, you can take H-2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPI). These types of medicine don’t act as quickly as antacids to bring you relief. However, their effect typically lasts longer. Examples of H-2 blockers include Pepcid and Zantac, which you also take to treat dyspepsia, ulcers, and cyclic vomiting syndrome.
Prescription Medication for Reflux
When OTC drugs don’t work, doctors often prescribe stronger medication. These medications also reduce stomach acid or neutralize it. Some prescription medicines reduce the frequency of reflux by strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
The LES is a muscle at the entrance of your stomach near the end of the esophagus. One of its functions is to close when food passes through it, keeping stomach acid from moving to your throat. Acid reflux may occur if the LES doesn’t close up entirely or if it opens too often. Doctors may use prokinetics, such as Reglan, to improve muscle function around your stomach, including the LES.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Reflux
There are changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce the frequency of reflux. These modifications often help with mild cases of GERD. Certain types of food can trigger acid reflux, including caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, and foods high in sugar. Smoking can also inhibit the LES from functioning. Obesity or excess weight can put pressure upon your stomach, which pushes stomach acid upward. Reducing the intake of such foods, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce GERD and acid reflux tremendously.
Surgery and Other Procedures to Help with Stomach Acid
In cases where medication fails to control acid reflux, doctors can recommend other medical procedures for your condition.
One of these treatments is installing a Linx device. This device is a ring made up of minuscule magnetic beads that wrap around the entrance of your stomach. The magnetic link will be strong enough to hold off stomach acid but weak enough for food to pass through.
Another option is fundoplication. With this procedure, a doctor helps reinforce your LES by connecting the fundus (the top of your stomach) to the LES itself. This action tightens the sphincter, preventing acid from passing through.
Lastly, there is the Bravo capsule. This item is a small tracker that a doctor will place inside your esophagus to track the amount of acid reflux you experience. Meanwhile, you will be recording the symptoms you have. Your physician will then use this collected data to formulate a treatment plan specific to your symptoms and the cause of your acid reflux.
Reflux Relief in Ohio
If you have acid reflux, it’s important to consult with a doctor prior to the condition worsening. While acid reflux is a treatable condition, it tends to get worse if left untreated. At North Shore Gastroenterology, our doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are here to assist you with any discomfort you’re feeling from acid reflux. Give us a call at (440) 808-1212 or set an appointment online.