Gastroesophageal Reflux

Gastroesophageal Reflux services offered in The Loop, Chicago, IL

You might be tempted to dismiss gastroesophageal reflux as acid indigestion, but this could lead to problems in the future. You can avoid complications by visiting Michigan Avenue Primary Care in The Loop of downtown Chicago, Illinois, which offers a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. The available treatments reverse gastroesophageal reflux and prevent potentially life-threatening complications. Call Michigan Avenue Primary Care or book an appointment using the online booking feature today.

What is gastroesophageal reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) develops when you have frequent bouts of acid indigestion or heartburn. Heartburn (acid reflux) is an intense and unpleasant burning feeling in the center of your chest caused by acid flowing up your esophagus from your stomach.

While the occasional episode of heartburn isn’t too much to worry about, if you experience it frequently, you could have gastroesophageal reflux. This is more of a concern because gastroesophageal reflux can damage the esophagus and, without treatment, lead to more severe conditions like Barrett’s esophagus and, in turn, esophageal cancer.

What causes gastroesophageal reflux?

Acid reflux, which leads to gastroesophageal reflux, occurs because there’s a problem with a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the top of your stomach. The LES opens when you swallow to allow food and drink into your stomach, then seals afterward to stop anything coming back up.

If the LES is weak and unable to close correctly or the muscle is too relaxed, acid escapes from your stomach and goes up the esophagus. Because stomach acid is highly corrosive, it inflames the delicate tissues lining your esophagus, resulting in heartburn. You’re more likely to develop gastroesophageal reflux if you:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Smoke
  • Drink a lot of alcohol
  • Eat fried and spicy foods

Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux are also common during pregnancy as the developing fetus pushes your stomach up and weakens the LES.

What symptoms does gastroesophageal reflux cause?

In addition to heartburn, the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, you might suffer problems such as:

  • Excessive belching
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Bad breath
  • Vocal changes
  • Hoarseness
  • Wheezing or breathing difficulties

If you have these symptoms regularly, you should contact Michigan Avenue Primary Care for an accurate diagnosis.

How is gastroesophageal reflux treated?

The best way to tackle gastroesophageal reflux, especially in the early stages, is to adapt your lifestyle so you remove the risk factors. That could mean cutting down on fatty, fried, and spicy foods, not overeating, and losing weight. Quitting smoking and not drinking alcohol also helps enormously.

For more severe gastroesophageal reflux or when your symptoms don’t improve despite lifestyle changes, medications can be helpful. These include proton-pump inhibitors and H2 blockers, which reduce the acid levels in your stomach.

Don’t take any chances with gastroesophageal reflux; treat it early on and avoid the pain and complications it can cause. Call Michigan Avenue Primary Care or book an evaluation online today. Telehealth and same-day appointments are also available.