Hello, everyone. I hope everyone is doing well. I want to thank you all for the great questions we continue to receive. Please remember that the below information is meant to serve as a guide for you to explore these topics further with your own gastroenterologist. Have a good week.
Question #1: I’m having trouble swallowing and when I do swallow, I feel like the food is stuck in my throat. I also have painful burps after eating. What is causing this?
Dr. Eisner: These symptoms may be related to reflux, but they may be related to other conditions. The swallowing should probably been evaluated with an endoscopy or at the least a GI series depending on your age. While the most likely conditions are benign, it could be a sign of something more serious so you should see your physician. The painful burping could also be related to reflux, but again, needs to be evaluated by your physician.
Question #2: For the past few months, I have been feeling sick to my stomach, with pains in my side and in my upper, left rib cage. Could acid reflux be the cause?
Dr. Eisner: Those are not typical symptoms of reflux. While acid-related conditions such as ulcers or esophagitis can be the cause, you should see your physician for a complete history and physical exam. Things to consider would be pancreas problems, irritable bowel syndrome or even musculoskeletal disorders.
Question #3: Is it possible to treat acid reflux disease by making dietary changes (instead of using medications)?
Dr. Eisner: Acid reflux disease can be treated by dietary changes. Foods that typically worsen reflux are those containing caffeine, chocolate and peppermints. In many patients, if these are removed from their diet, symptoms of reflux can resolve. Again, I can not help but emphasize that you should first start by speaking with your primary physician or gastroenterologist.
Question #4: I have heard of patients who, once the esophagus has healed, have changed their diets and are able to go off their medications. Is there a cure for acid reflux disease?
Dr. Eisner: Reflux disease can be controlled with non-medical therapy. Patients that have inflammation of the esophagus, once healed, may be able to come off their medications. Some patients require long-term maintenance therapy. Check with your doctor to see if you need to continue taking medications once your symptoms have resolved.
Question #5: Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a hiatus hernia after undergoing a gastroscopy. I’m having hernia symptoms, including an acidic taste in my mouth, sometimes a burny throat, upper abdominal and chest pain, and a bloated stomach after eating. I am scheduled for another gastroscopy. Is it possible my hernia has worsened or should I be concerned about stomach cancer?
Dr. Eisner: While the chance of stomach cancer is very low, you still should proceed with the endoscopy. In all likelihood, the hernia has not worsened, but you may have developed esophagitis, or even a pre-cancerous condition involving the esophagus, known as Barrett's esophagus.