Heartburn affects many people occasionally after they eat certain foods or lie down after a meal, but regular heartburn could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can damage your esophagus over time. At his practice in Boca Raton, Florida, Dr. Prosper Abitbol helps men and women manage GERD through medication and lifestyle changes to minimize the discomfort and limit any long-term health effects. To schedule an appointment, call or click today.

GERD / Heartburn Q & A

Heartburn, a burning pain in your chest, actually has nothing to do with your heart. Rather, the name simply describes the location of the pain. When you experience heartburn, it means the acid in your stomach has backed up into your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.

When you swallow, the valve in your stomach entrance, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), relaxes just enough to allow the food or drink into your stomach and then close. This also keeps your stomach acid in your stomach. Heartburn results from a process called acid reflux, where the LES doesn’t fully close, leaving an opening for the acid to travel up your esophagus, often along with regurgitated food.

If you occasionally get heartburn, you can usually treat it through over-the-counter medicines like antacids and by modifying your habits, such as cutting down on fried and fatty foods, alcohol, and caffeine. However, if you get heartburn at least twice a week, you may have GERD.

Keep in mind that GERD doesn’t mean you simply get an everyday ailment more often. It’s a more serious condition that can cause damage to your esophagus over time and even lead to cancer if left untreated. Additional symptoms when heartburn is the result of GERD include:

  • Heartburn pain that worsens over time
  • Heartburn that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications, or requires an increasingly larger dose to go away
  • Food or sour liquid coming up into your mouth
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing

If your heartburn includes these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Abitbol to determine if you have GERD.

Dr. Abitbol can treat GERD through help with lifestyle changes and prescription medication. Medications for GERD can reduce or block how much stomach your acid produces, so the inflammation in your esophagus can heal. He may also prescribe medication that strengthens your LES so it closes properly.

These medications may be most effective when combined with changes to your diet and habits. That may include identifying and avoiding foods that trigger symptoms, maintaining a healthy weight, and raising your head when you sleep. After making these changes, it’s possible you’ll reduce the intensity and frequency of heartburn to where you can treat it successfully with over-the-counter medications.

If heartburn has become a regular part of your life, you should find out if it’s GERD. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Prosper Abitbol, call or use the convenient online booking tool.


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