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.
Treatment for heartburn and acid reflux in Florida
You may find yourself needing to constantly take medication and battle the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
With our robust network of specialists, HCA Florida Healthcare's hospitals offer digestive specialists across the state. They are a collaborative network of experts who are devoted to caring for your gastric health needs. At our digestive health centers, they work together to provide you with a streamlined and comprehensive approach to your care.
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The difference between heartburn, acid reflux and GERD
Heartburn, acid reflux and GERD are often used interchangeably. However, even though they relate to each other, they are different from one another. These conditions and their relationship are as follows:
- What is acid reflux? This is the process of stomach acid refluxing back into the esophagus and indicates a structural problem with the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
- What is GERD? This is a chronic, more severe form of acid reflux. A GERD diagnosis indicates that a patient is experiencing acid reflux more than two times per week on a consistent basis.
- What is heartburn? This term refers to a burning sensation in the chest, but it is actually taking place in the esophagus, not the heart. Heartburn is not a condition, but rather a common symptom of both acid reflux and GERD.
Diagnostic testing services we offer for heartburn
Our gastroenterology services include comprehensive GI diagnostics. Using these tests, your doctor can better understand your heartburn and reflux symptoms and their effects on your body. GI testing options we offer include:
Capsule-based pH monitoring
This is a wireless capsule implanted just above your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It allows you to go on with normal daily activities without the tube inside your nose, while we are able to obtain 24 to 48 hours' worth of data measuring the acid exposure to the esophagus.
The wireless capsule transmits information to a receiver that you clip on your clothing. During the day, you press a button on the receiver when you are having symptoms. This enables us to correlate moments of acid reflux with symptoms.
This procedure is performed while you are under sedation. It involves the physician placing a camera through the mouth to visualize the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.
In moderate to severe cases of acid reflux, the lining of the esophagus appears inflamed. Endoscopy can also rule out any tumors or narrowing of the esophagus. If there is an abnormal transformation of the lining of the esophagus, your gastroenterologist may biopsy the area to rule out Barrett's esophagus or esophageal cancer.
A thin, pressure-sensitive tube is passed through your mouth or nose into your stomach. When the tube is in your esophagus, you are asked to swallow sips of water. The pressure of the muscle contractions is measured along the length of your esophagus.
This procedure is typically done without sedation, but minimal sedation is used if a patient cannot tolerate the examination. After the test is completed, the manometry is used to measure the LES effectiveness at preventing reflux.
During an esophagram, you drink either a barium or a water-based contrast that coats your upper digestive tract. This provides a clear image of your esophagus, stomach and the upper part of your small intestine on an X-ray. This study is helpful in seeing complications of reflux, such as esophageal strictures and ulcers, throughout the upper GI tract.
Other diagnostic tests we offer
- 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Barium swallow test
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
- Gastric emptying study
- Hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan
- Upper GI series
Often, over-the-counter medications, dietary changes and lifestyle changes can help control or limit the symptoms associated with GERD. However, if lifestyle changes and noninvasive treatments do not relieve your symptoms, surgery may be an effective option.
Acid reflux and GERD surgery
There are times when the underlying cause of GERD cannot be resolved with medications or other noninvasive treatments. In these cases, we offer specialized surgical options, including Nissen fundoplication and transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF).
If your gastroenterologist suggests GERD surgery, they will discuss with you which option will be effective for your unique condition. Often, we are able to use minimally invasive procedures to treat GERD. Minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as robotic surgery, allow our surgeons to make very small incisions, which typically result in a faster recovery for you.
Our teams will be with you throughout your surgical experience — from preoperative care to recovery — to ensure you feel secure and well-informed throughout your treatment.
Our heartburn and acid reflux care teams
HCA Florida operates with a robust network that is dedicated to you and improving your overall health. By working collectively and collaboratively, our GI doctors, abdominal surgeons and abdominal pain specialists provide you with excellent, multidisciplinary GI services.
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