Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO – If you have ever experienced any of the following signs such as difficulty swallowing, dry cough, chest pain, heartburn, food regurgitation, hoarseness or the feeling of a lump in the throat, chances are you have GERD. Or commonly known as gastroesophageal reflux disease.

This month’s Talk with the Doc Series guest speaker was Christy Nesbitt, RN Heartburn Coordinator whose topic was on heartburn.

Nesbitt, who is with San Angelo Community Medical Center, in her noon lunch presentation before the Lyndale San Angelo community members, covered six specific areas: understanding GERD, Symptoms of GERD, causes, treatment options, lifestyle changes and medical/ surgical therapy.

After covering the symptoms portion, Conexión asked Nesbitt about one other one—treatment options which consist of the following three: antacids, H2 Blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors, (PPIs). 

“The first one is antacids which are short-acting; they don’t last but about a couple of hours,” said Nesbitt.

The second one is a little bit stronger. They are called H2 Blockers. The most common one on the market is called Zantac which work anywhere between six to eight hours.

"The third one, Proton Pump Inhibitors, (PPIs) is the strongest. Those are the longest acting ones which generally last from one every 12 hours to one every 24 hours. “They actually prevent acid from coming out of the cell in the stomach.”
If used over a long-term, there is a risk involved. One of those risks is increased bone fractures due to osteoporosis, stated Nesbitt.

As for what causes GERD? It occurs when the muscle located between the esophagus and the stomach malfunctions. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When working properly the LES acts like a one-way valve that prevents stomach contents containing acid from refluxing into the esophagus. In patients with GERD, the defective LES allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. This causes heartburn and other symptoms of GERD, per A Patient’s Guide to GERD.

Regarding lifestyle changes that can help.

“Don’t eat before you go to bed.” “Lose excess weight so you don’t have a lot of abdominal weight that can cause acid reflux. And watch trigger foods: citrus foods, spicy foods, chocolate, peppermint and alcohol and of course tobacco use,” concluded Nesbitt.

For more information, contact Heartburn Treatment Center of West Texas, located at 3501 Knickerbocker Road. Or call, 325-947-6888.

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