Treating GERD: A Comprehensive Approach
In keeping with its commitment to improving patient care, Middlesex Health recently created a comprehensive program to help those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Middlesex Health has always treated GERD, but it can now do so in a more efficient way because this formal program fosters streamlined collaboration between gastroenterologists and surgeons throughout a patient’s experience.
“We work together with each patient’s best interest in mind,” says Dr. Nadeem Hussain, chief of gastroenterology at Middlesex Health. “Together, we will determine the best steps to take to evaluate and manage the problem.”
GERD occurs when stomach acid moves upward into your esophagus—a place where you don’t want it to be because the tissue in this area is more sensitive. The lower esophageal sphincter, a group of muscles, opens to let food into the stomach and then it should quickly close to keep stomach acid and food from backing up into the esophagus. If the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close well, acid reflux can be the result.
Chronic acid reflux can damage the esophagus, and that damage can sometimes lead to an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
One in five people in the United States are diagnosed with GERD. GERD accounts for nearly 5 million physician visits each year.
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. This burning may be worse after eating or at night.
Other symptoms include:
- Chest or stomach pain
- Burning/acid taste in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feel like you have a lump in your throat or a sore throat
- Coughing without an explanation, such as a cold or allergies
Making certain lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and avoiding aggravating foods, may improve your GERD symptoms. Some medications, such as over-the-counter antacids, histamine blockers and proton pump inhibitors, may also help. These medications work in different ways, but they all aim to reduce or block stomach acid.
A Middlesex Health gastroenterologist works with you to manage the symptoms of GERD. This is the type of doctor you would want to see if you require daily medications for GERD or if you have a family history of stomach or esophageal cancer.
Sometimes, people do remain symptomatic despite taking heartburn medication. In this case, you may want to consider surgery to get the relief you need.
Middlesex Health gastroesophageal surgeons perform the most advanced procedures to fix the anatomical problem that causes GERD. This includes the LINX procedure, a minimally invasive procedure that restores your body’s natural ability to prevent reflux through the use of magnetic titanium beads.
Middlesex surgeons also perform the endoscopic TIF procedure, which rebuilds the lower esophageal sphincter without the need for surgery.
“We are at the forefront when it comes to surgery for GERD,” says Dr. Jonathan Aranow, a Middlesex Health gastroesophageal surgeon. “For some, surgery can result in a better quality of life.”
Contact the GERD program
If you experience GERD symptoms, call 833-END-GERD (833-363-4373) and speak to a trained nurse who will navigate you through the health care process. The nurse will get you to the right medical providers, help you schedule your appointments and answer any questions.
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