Acid reflux and heartburn treatment in Brandon, Florida

Brandon Regional Hospital is committed to providing comprehensive care for acid reflux, heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Our hospital offers a personalized, streamlined approach where patients can receive an accurate assessment, diagnosis and treatment from multiple specialists in one, convenient location.

To learn more about our treatment for heartburn and GERD, please call our Consult-A-Nurse® team at (813) 653-1065.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD is characterized as chronic heartburn. It results from a weakened lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES acts as the door between the esophagus and stomach that allows food to pass into the stomach, burping and vomiting. In patients with GERD, the LES remains relaxed, allowing stomach acid to cross the door and reflux into the lower portion of the esophagus.

When the stomach acid refluxes and burns the lining of the esophagus, it is called heartburn. GERD can be a serious condition, as chronic irritation of the esophagus can cause damage to its inner lining.

Through our gastroenterology services, we provide comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options for GERD. This includes pediatric heartburn care through our Pediatric Aerodigestive Center.

Symptoms of GERD

The effects of GERD are noticeable through the following symptoms:

  • Asthma
  • Bad breath
  • Change in sense of smell
  • Change in sense of taste
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry cough
  • Frequent burping
  • Heartburn and chest pain
  • Hoarseness (often in the morning)
  • Sensation of food stuck in the throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
  • Stomach fullness or bloating
  • Wheezing

Diagnosing GERD

GERD is a common diagnosis and can range in severity. For some patients, over-the-counter medications are able to effectively treat their symptoms and further treatment is not necessary.

If over-the-counter medications are not managing the symptoms of GERD, we perform a range of diagnostic tests to evaluate reflux and determine treatment, including:

  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)—This procedure inserts a scope and camera through the mouth to visualize the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. It is performed under sedation and evaluates the upper digestive tract for inflammation, tumors, strictures and ulcers.
  • pH probe—This procedure uses a tube inserted through the patient's nose that rests in the esophagus. It remains in place for 24 hours. The test measures the frequency and duration of acid refluxing into the esophagus.
  • Capsule pH probe—This procedure is the same as a pH probe but alternatively uses a capsule that is implanted just about the lower esophageal sphincter, instead of using a tube. The capsule connects to a wireless receiver that has a button the patient presses when they are experiencing symptoms.
  • Esophageal manometry—This study evaluates esophageal function by passing a tube into the stomach and having a patient swallow sips of water. The pressure of the muscle contractions in the esophagus are measured and can indicate how well the lower esophageal sphincter is preventing reflux.
  • Esophagram—This study uses a contrast agent or barium to coat the upper digestive tract, creating clear X-ray images of the esophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. It is useful in determining the position of the lower esophageal sphincter and visualizing any complication of reflux, such as esophageal strictures or ulcers.

GERD treatment

When in the early stages, GERD is most often treated through medications and changes to diet and lifestyle. If symptoms continue to worsen, treatment to correct the malfunction of the LES may be considered.

Treatment options provided by our gastrointestinal specialists include:

  • Diet modification—Changes in eating habits can be effective in treating GERD, including eating smaller, frequent meals and earlier evening meals. It is also important to avoid foods known to reduce pressure on the LES, such as chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated beverages and peppermint.
  • Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication—This is a minimally invasive procedure that restores proper function to the LES by wrapping the upper portion of the stomach around the lower portion of the esophagus.
  • Lifestyle modification—GERD can be managed by lifestyle changes such as elevating the upper body when lying in bed and stopping smoking.
  • Over-the-counter medications—Over-the-counter medicines such as antacids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and pro-motility drugs may be effective in treating the symptoms of GERD. Although, medications do not treat the underlying cause of GERD.
  • Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF)—This is a completely incisionless procedure that uses an endoscope to reconstruct a durable anti-reflux valve while also tightening the LES. This reinforces the reflux barrier and restores the function of the lower esophageal sphincter.

The first steps in lifestyle modification

Changes to lifestyle and diet have been proven to reduce the symptoms in patients with mild to moderate GERD. The first steps to think about taking include:

  • Adjust medications
  • Adjust sleeping position to elevate the upper body
  • Become physically active
  • Control alcohol and tobacco use
  • Loosen clothing
  • Reduce consumption of trigger foods
  • Remain upright

GERD complications

GERD may have a long-term effect on your health, as it can lead to the following:

  • Adult onset asthma
  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Esophageal stricture
  • Esophagitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Regurgitation of acid into the lungs
  • Sinusitis
  • Tooth enamel erosion
  • Ulcerations and bleeding