At West Side Gastroenterology, Dr. Jaffin provides skilled diagnosis and treatment of acid reflux or heartburn and GERD in patients from the Upper West Side of Manhattan and throughout New York City, reliving painful symptoms and preventing long-term damage that can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.
Acid reflux is another term for heartburn, a painful, burning sensation that occurs when stomach acid and sometimes partially-digested food refluxes, or moves backward, into the esophagus. Everyone experience acid reflux from time to time, but when it happens chronically, it may be a sign of a more serious condition called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
GERD is a chronic medical condition that occurs when the sphincter, or opening, between the esophagus and the stomach begins to malfunction. Normally, the sphincter (called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES) keeps acid and food in the stomach and prevents it from moving back into the esophagus. But if the LES becomes weak or damaged, acid reflux can occur on a regular basis, causing chronic pain and discomfort.
Yes, the effects of GERD can be very serious if not treated properly. Over time, the continual backwash of acid can cause changes in the esophagus, and over time, the lining will become more like the lining of the intestine. This is a condition called Barrett's esophagus, and it can increase your risk for developing esophageal cancer.
While you may be able to relieve the symptoms associated with GERD, taking antacids regularly can wind up masking serious symptoms, and some antacids can also interfere with absorption of important nutrients. If you have chronic heartburn, you should make an appointment to be evaluated.
First, an endoscopy will likely be performed to confirm the diagnosis and to evaluate any damage that may have occurred. In most cases, GERD can be managed with medication, but sometimes, surgery may be needed.