Let’s face it: Food is awesome. So many of us tend to overindulge on delightful dinners and favorite snacks, and often feel the repercussions via indigestion, heartburn, or an upset stomach. But if you find yourself feeling miserable after almost any amount you eat, you may be suffering from an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
Let’s take a look at two issues that could be causing your symptoms and how doctors at Sound Health can help.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
When most people eat, they swallow the food, it travels through the esophagus and finally settles in the stomach. At the bottom of the stomach, a ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) contracts to keep acid from coming back up, or refluxing, into the esophagus. But if you suffer from GERD, that ring of muscle stays open so acid is allowed to move back up, and when that acid touches the tissue lining the esophagus and throat, it can really burn (hence the term “heartburn”). You may also experience symptoms such as:
• Trouble swallowing
• Hoarseness in the morning
• Severe chest pain
• Dry cough
• Bad breath
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)
Sometimes the contents of the stomach and upper digestive tract travel back up not only into the esophagus, but also beyond the ring of muscle at the top of the esophagus and into the throat. The acid and digestive contents can irritate the larynx and back of the nasal airway, causing symptoms such as:
• Difficulty swallowing
• A bad taste
• Persistent hoarseness
• Cough that sounds croupy
• Postnasal drip
• Feeding difficulties in children leading to growth deficiency
What Causes GERD and LPR?
People who suffer from reflux disorders may have physical conditions such as abnormal lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES), abnormal contractions of the esophagus, or slow emptying of the stomach. In children, this is often an issue with the maturity of their physical development. Symptoms of GERD and LPR can be triggered by a poor diet of fatty or spicy foods, by overeating or by eating too fast.
How Can GERD and LPR Be Treated?
Your doctor may initially refer you to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in treating gastrointestinal disorders. Since reflux causes problems with the throat and airway, you could also benefit from the care of an ear, nose and throat doctor who can address complications such as hoarseness, airway stenosis (narrowing), swallowing difficulties, throat pain, and other issues resulting from GERD and LPR.
After tests including an endoscopic exam, x-ray, and biopsy, a doctor will diagnose your reflux problem and create a treatment plan which could include:
• Medication such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors and foam barriers.
• Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and improved diet plan
• Surgical intervention to tighten the lower esophageal sphincter
How Can Sound Health Services Help?
Ear, nose and throat specialists at Sound Health Services are specially trained in diagnosing and treating reflux disorders such as GERD and LPR. If you experience reflux symptoms at least two times a week, we’d love to discuss how we can help.
Give us a call at (314) 332-1377 to schedule a consultation
with one of our ENTs today.