Do you experience frequent acid reflux? The gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists in Bala Cynywd, Bucks and Torresdale, PA, discuss the condition and explain treatment options.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when acids flow out of your stomach and irritate the sensitive lining of your esophagus. The condition can occur if the sphincter that separates your esophagus and stomach doesn't close completely or is faulty. You may be more likely to experience acid reflux if you are pregnant, have a hiatal hernia, are overweight, smoke or use alcohol, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise too soon after eating.

The foods you eat and the medications you take can also increase your risk. Garlic, onions, spicy and fatty foods, chocolate, citrus fruits and tomatoes may trigger acid reflux. It can also occur as a side effect of certain medications, including some high blood pressure medications, ibuprofen or aspirin.

What can I do about acid reflux?

Have you noticed that certain actions, such as exercising immediately after a meal or drinking a big glass of orange juice with breakfast, cause your symptoms? If you can identify the triggers, reducing acid reflux can be as simple as eliminating the factors that cause the condition. Heartburn, nausea, regurgitation, burping and other acid reflux problems can occur more frequently if you sleep flat on your back. Elevating the head of your bed will help prevent acid from flowing back into your esophagus.

Taking over-the-counter antacids and other medications that decrease the production of acid can be helpful if you have acid reflux. If your symptoms continue or worsen, make a visit to our Bala Cynwyd, Bucks or Torresdale offices. An endoscopy, a test that looks inside your esophagus and stomach, may be recommended if you have chronic acid reflux. During the endoscopy, your gastroenterologist passes a flexible scope that contains a miniature camera into your mouth. The camera transmits images of the lining of your stomach and esophagus to a digital screen.

Based on the results of your endoscopy, your gastroenterologist may prescribe medications that lower the amount of acid your stomach produces, such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors. Prokinetics may also be prescribed. The drugs make your esophageal sphincter stronger and also helps food travel through your stomach faster. If more conservative treatment options aren't helpful, surgery may be recommended in some cases.

Effective treatment options can improve your acid reflux symptoms. Schedule an appointment with the gastroenterologists at Gastrointestinal Specialists by calling (610) 664-9700 for the Bala Cynwyd office, (215) 702-7090 for the Bucks office or (215) 632-3500 for the Torresdale office.