Heartburn FAQ

What is GERD?

GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a common condition that occurs when the pressure valve between the esophagus and the stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) malfunctions and allows contents of the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

  • Heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food and liquids
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness

What are the risk factors for GERD?

  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Fatty foods
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco use

How is GERD diagnosed?

GERD is typically diagnosed in the clinic with patient history and physical exam. However, other studies such as endoscopy or a pH probe study may be necessary in some cases.

How is GERD treated?

Treatment for GERD includes medication, lifestyle modifications, and sometimes surgery. Lifestyle modifications include elevation of the head of the bed to 45 degrees (6 inches) at night, avoiding eating within 2-3 hours before bedtime, avoiding coffee, alcohol, fatty foods, and chocolate, and discontinuation of tobacco use. Weight loss is recommended in patients with recent weight gain and in those who are overweight. First line medications for GERD include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Prilosec and Protonix, and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2RA) such as Pepcid and Zantac.

When should I consider surgery?

Surgery for GERD should be considered if lifestyle modifications and medical management do not result in an improvement in symptoms.

What is a Nissen fundoplication?

Nissen fundoplication is the surgical treatment of choice for GERD. This is a procedure in which part of the stomach is wrapped around the bottom of the esophagus to reinforce and strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, resulting in a decrease in reflux. Nissen fundoplication can be performed laparoscopically and is a minimally invasive procedure.

Schedule an Appointment in Birmingham, AL

If you’re experiencing symptoms of GERD in the Birmingham area, contact Advanced Surgeons, P.C. today to schedule an appointment. Give our office a call at (205) 595-8985.