When you eat, your stomach produces acid to help you digest the food. Acid in the wrong place can lead to heartburn or a burning in the middle of the chest. You feel heartburn when stomach acid moves up into the "food pipe", also known as the esophagus. This happens when the valve, or "gate" between the esophagus and stomach functions incorrectly. Heartburn is the most common symptom of a disease called GERD, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease. For many, symptoms are mild, for some GERD is a daily, severe problem with lifelong implications.
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People who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can visit a qualified healthcare provider to discuss whether they should be tested for a condition called Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is caused by longstanding GERD and is a major risk for developing cancer of the esophagus. While esophageal cancer is not as prominent as some other cancers, it is often deadly, with only 15 percent of those diagnosed surviving.
Fortunately, GERD can be treated in several ways. GERD occurs when the sphincter separating the stomach from the esophagus malfunctions and the contents of the stomach regurgitate into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest or throat. GERD is perplexing because it affects each person differently. Some people with serious GERD have no symptoms, while others’ lives are disrupted by chest pain, belching, hoarseness, sore throats, and sleeping difficulties.
The Heartburn Treatment Center of West Texas, one of only three in the state affiliated with Legato Medical Systems, is a source of comprehensive care. Nurse coordinator Lisa Hadorn educates patients, works closely with a team of physicians to conduct tests and create an individualized treatment plan for each patient.
Treatments range from lifestyle changes such as losing weight and eating smaller meals in an effort to reduce stomach pressure to a medical regimen of drugs that manage acid production. While medicines control the symptoms, they do not repair the underlying cause of GERD. Traditional and new surgical procedures can strengthen the esophageal sphincter and often provide a permanent cure.
Regardless of which treatment option is best for you, you can find answers and relief from GERD at the Heartburn Treatment Center of West Texas.
The week of November 24th-30th is National GERD Awareness Week.