About 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month and more than 15 million experience heartburn each day. At Gastroenterology Specialists of Orlando, board-certified gastroenterologist Robert Baker, MD, has years of experience diagnosing and treating heartburn using safe, effective means. To schedule an appointment at the Orlando, Florida-based practice, call or book online today.
Heartburn is a common digestive problem that causes a painful, fiery sensation in your throat or chest. Almost everyone experiences heartburn on occasion, but if your symptoms persist for days or weeks at a time, it may point to a more serious condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Whenever you eat a meal, tiny pumps in your stomach release acid to assist with digestion. If your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) –– a valve between your stomach and esophagus –– doesn’t close properly, acid can leave your stomach and flow back into your esophagus. This process irritates the lining of your esophagus, resulting in pain and inflammation.
Heartburn affects everyone differently and varies in severity. Telltale signs include:
If you have heartburn, you might also notice that your symptoms get worse when you lay down or bend over.
Mild cases of heartburn usually respond to over-the-counter medications like antacids. You should make an appointment to see Dr. Baker if your heartburn:
You should also make an appointment if your symptoms make it difficult to swallow.
To diagnose heartburn, Dr. Baker conducts a physical exam, asks about your symptoms and lifestyle, and reviews your medical history. During your appointment, make sure to let him know if you smoke, drink alcohol, or regularly eat spicy foods.
To determine the underlying cause of your heartburn, he also orders a diagnostic test like an upper endoscopy. An upper endoscopy allows Dr. Baker to visually observe the lining of your esophagus and stomach. This makes it possible to diagnose ulcers, inflammation, tumors, and other abnormalities.
Treatment for heartburn depends on the severity of your symptoms and their effect on your quality of life. If you have mild or moderate heartburn, you might benefit from taking over-the-counter medications or implementing healthy lifestyle changes.
For example, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding late meals, and wearing loose, comfortable clothing may significantly improve your symptoms. Dr. Baker might also recommend avoiding spicy or rich foods, quitting smoking, and drinking less alcohol.
If your heartburn persists or it’s due to GERD, you might benefit from prescription medications that reduce acid production.
To explore your treatment options for heartburn, schedule an appointment at Gastroenterology Specialists of Florida, Call the office or book a consultation online today.