Best GERD & Heartburn Doctors Gastroenterologist NYC | GI Doctors NYC
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, is a medical condition treated by the NYC Gastroenterologists and GERD specialists in our office, in which the acidic juices in your stomach splash back into your esophagus (“acid reflux”), irritating the esophageal lining. This burning sensation is also called heartburn.
Persistent GERD symptoms or new onset of acid reflux symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician or acid reflux doctor for an accurate diagnosis and heartburn treatment plan as it may be a symptom of a serious illness or condition. Persistent heartburn symptoms can lead to Barrett’s esophagus which is a precursor to esophageal cancer.
What Is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive dysfunction affecting the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a bundle of muscles between the stomach and the esophagus. There are many people who suffer from symptoms of heartburn or acid indigestion that are caused by GERD.
Your esophagus transfers food from your mouth to your stomach. It has two sphincters, one at the top in your throat and one at the bottom where it connects to your stomach. Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter (or LES) maintains a strong grip, allowing the one-way flow of food into your stomach. If the LES weakens or doesn’t close properly, however, the digestive enzymes and acid in your stomach can escape back up into your esophagus.
Many people experience acid reflux symptoms after eating certain foods. In these instances, over-the-counter medications may work well to temporarily calm the symptoms of GERD such as a burning throat. If you experience acid indigestion frequently enough that it interferes with your life, you should seek medical help from a GERD doctor.
What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn and/or acid regurgitation. Heartburn starts as a burning sensation in your chest. It occasionally can rise into your throat, leaving a sour taste in your mouth and a feeling of a burning throat. When you experience this symptom, it’s called acid regurgitation.
Other GERD symptoms involve unexplained chest pain, symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain or radiating arm pain. These can be signs of a heart problem and you should seek immediate medical attention and call 911. More worrisome symptoms include difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss and blood in the stool, etc.
Constant GERD symptoms or new-onset of heartburn symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by a physician or GERD specialist in NYC for an accurate diagnosis and acid reflux treatment plan as it may be a symptom of a serious illness or condition. Chronic GERD symptoms can result in Barrett’s esophagus which is a precursor to esophageal cancer.
What Causes Heartburn?
Heartburn is a symptom of GERD and is the result of the acid refluxing back into the esophagus. It is caused by risk factors that increase the stomach’s production of acid and structural issues that enable the acid reflux to occur. Certain foods and drinks that we commonly consume, increase the secretion of stomach acid and set the stage for the occurrence of heartburn. The most common causes of heartburn include alcohol, caffeine, acidic foods, acidic juices, and carbonated drinks.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the muscle between your stomach and esophagus (the LES) weakens. There are many causes of acid reflux, most of them are lifestyle-related and include obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, cigarette smoking, asthma, alcohol abuse, and consuming certain foods and beverages such as:
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus drinks, including juices
- Fatty foods
- Tomato-based products
Another possible cause is the presence of a hiatal hernia, which allows part of your stomach to move past your diaphragm into your chest. Not everyone with a hiatal hernia will experience GERD symptoms, but the hernia makes the disease more likely to occur.
How Is GERD Diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing the common symptoms of heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and/or acid regurgitation, you may not need additional tests for our top GERD doctors to make an accurate diagnosis. If your symptoms do not respond to conservative GERD treatment — or if you develop other symptoms, such as weight loss, trouble swallowing, or internal bleeding — Our acid reflux doctors will likely need to perform an upper endoscopy for diagnosis and you may need additional workup.
X-ray testing serves no useful purpose for evaluating your symptoms of GERD. A more valuable test is an upper endoscopy. Our heartburn doctors use an endoscope, a small tube with a light at the end, to examine your esophagus and stomach, as well as the upper portion of your small intestine, called the duodenum. An upper endoscopy allows the acid reflux specialist to visually detect any damage to your esophageal lining. If necessary, they can take a tissue biopsy for further testing.
Another test, known as pH testing, measures the amount of acid in your esophagus. Our top GERD doctors in NYC can perform this test by either attaching a small sensor in your esophagus during an endoscopy or placing a thin, flexible probe into your esophagus. The test takes 24 hours to accurately measure the acid content. The probe or sensor transmits its information to a small device you wear on your belt.
How to Treat GERD?
Acid reflux symptoms sometimes disappear on their own if you reduce or eliminate certain dietary or lifestyle excesses. In addition to avoiding the foods and beverages listed above, you also can follow these tips to treat your heartburn symptoms:
- Avoid eating within three hours of bedtime
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prop up the head of your bed four to six inches
- Quit cigarette smoking
Should your symptoms persist, the Midtown or Upper East Side gastroenterologists encourages you to make an office visit with our heartburn specialist in NYC for an examination.
Over-the-counter medications decrease acid production in your stomach and are safe and suitable for treating mild cases. Other medications, called proton pump inhibitors, are also effective for treating your symptoms of GERD while helping your body heal. These medications block certain acid production in your stomach. Any longer term acid reflux treatment should be overseen by your gastroenterologist.
Surgery is considered a last resort, to be considered only if the more conservative GERD treatments have not eased your symptoms. Our acid reflux doctors perform a comprehensive evaluation before referring you for surgery. If the NYC gastroenterologist recommends surgery, an operation known as fundoplication is an option, during which the surgeon he refers you to will repair the hiatal hernia, if present, and wrap part of your stomach around the lower end of your esophagus to strengthen the barrier between your esophagus and stomach.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a GI doctor about your specific condition. Only trained, experienced gastroenterologists like our GERD doctors can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper heartburn treatment.
As best in class NYC gastroenterologists, our heartburn doctors provide highly personalized and comprehensive care. Their philosophies regarding the doctor/patient relationship are based on trust and have earned them some of the most respected reputations in NYC.
For more information about the GI conditions we treat including Heartburn / GERD Treatment or to schedule a consultation with one of our GI doctors, please contact our Midtown or Upper East Side NYC offices.