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Heartburn and reflux

Heartburn and reflux are conditions that commonly affect the gastrointestinal system. Reflux, also known as acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus and into the mouth. Heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, is a symptom of reflux.

HCAHealthcare_Specialty_Gastroenterology_HeartburnAndReflux

Heartburn and reflux center in Englewood, Florida

Many people experience heartburn and acid reflux from time to time. However, if these symptoms become a chronic issue, it could be the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

At HCA Florida Englewood Hospital, our board-certified physicians are here to help diagnose and treat GERD. We will work together to develop a treatment plan that addresses your needs and restores your gastrointestinal health.

Diagnostic testing services

We perform a range of diagnostic and imaging tests to identify the severity of your heartburn and reflux symptoms and their effects on your body. Testing options may include:

  • Esophageal motility study (manometry) — This test evaluates the function of the esophagus, including how well the muscles within the esophagus are working.
  • 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring — This test measures the amount of acid flowing into the esophagus over a 24-hour time period.
  • Barium swallow — This test involves the ingestion of barium, which can be seen on X-rays, to visualize abnormalities in the stomach and esophagus.
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series — This test uses a contrast agent, such as barium, to visualize the upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach and duodenum).
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) — This test uses an endoscope to examine the lining of the upper GI tract.
  • Abdominal ultrasound — This test uses ultrasound imaging to examine the organs in the abdomen and their structures.
  • Gastric emptying study — This test evaluates the amount of time it takes for an ingested meal to move through the stomach.
  • Hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan — This imaging procedure uses a radioactive tracer to track the movement of parts of the small intestine, gall bladder and liver while gathering images of these areas.

After diagnostic testing, your doctor will identify the best treatment option for you. This can range from medications and lifestyle changes to a surgical procedure.

Understanding GERD

In addition to treating GERD, we are also here to help you understand the cause of it and what may put you at risk for it. 

What causes GERD 

GERD is the result of a weak muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) within the esophagus. This muscle acts as a reflux barrier within the body. When functioning correctly, the barrier acts as a one-way valve that allows food to flow into the stomach and prevents stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus. However, people who experience GERD have a barrier that does not function properly, allowing stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus.

For some people, GERD poses a serious medical problem. Severe cases of GERD can lead to esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, strictures and esophageal cancer.


GERD risk factors

There are several factors that may increase your risk for developing GERD, including:

  • Being 40 years old or older
  • Being overweight
  • Being pregnant
  • Eating and drinking the following:
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeinated beverages
    • Chocolate
    • Citrus foods
    • Spicy foods and peppermint
    • Tomato-based foods
  • Having diabetes
  • Smoking

When heartburn is a sign of GERD

Heartburn is a common symptom that affects many Americans. However, it can be an indicator of GERD, especially if your heartburn affects your sleep and occurs twice or more a week for several years.


Other GERD symptoms

Aside from chronic heartburn, GERD may also produce other symptoms, such as:

  • Achalasia (when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to open when swallowing)
  • Acid reflux
  • Asthma
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic, non-productive dry cough
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Hiatal hernia (upper portion of the stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm)
  • Indigestion
  • Regurgitation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Patient form

If you have heartburn/GERD or take medication for those conditions, please complete this 10-question GERD health-related quality of life (HRQL)

  • 0 = No Symptoms
  • 1 = Symptoms noticeable, but not bothersome
  • 2 = Symptoms noticeable and bothersome, but not every day
  • 3 = Symptoms bothersome every day
  • 4 = Symptoms affect daily activities
  • 5 = Symptoms are incapacitating, unable to do daily activities

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