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The Most Common Digestive Woes and How to Treat Them

Common Condition #1: Acid Reflux

Pills While it may be terribly poor judgement to bring up your bowel problems with others, the truth is that not talking about our woes can lead to suffering from digestive issues for much longer than we should have to. Doctors say digestive disorders are causing an unprecedented number of clinic visits and hospitalizations.

Don’t rush to the ER just yet.

Symptoms of reflux, such as heartburn, are among the most common digestive ills. Frequent heartburn symptoms may indicate a person has GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux. Not only is the hot or burning feeling rising up from the center of the abdomen area and into the chest painful, but the acid that causes the pain can harm the esophagus over time and possibly lead to esophageal cancer.

It may be accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth, or hypersalivation, or even finding food or fluid in your mouth, particularly at night. Pregnancy, some medications, and consuming alcohol or certain foods can cause heartburn. Kids under age 12 and some adults may have GERD without heartburn, instead experiencing asthma-like symptoms, trouble swallowing, or a dry cough.

Treatment options include drugs that reduce acid levels, such as the proton pump inhibitors Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix and the H2 blockers Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac. Check with Dr. Confrancesco on what medication might work.

In severe cases of GERD, surgeons can tighten a loose muscle between the stomach and esophagus to inhibit the upward flow of acid. Laparoscopic surgery, which involves small incisions, has been found to lessen scarring and shorten recovery time compared with open procedures.

© 2013 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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