Acid Reflux

Centers for Digestive Health

Gastroenterology located in Highland, IN, Merrillville, IN, Gary, IN, DeMotte, IN, Crown Point, IN & Dyer, IN

About 20% of Americans have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or chronic acid reflux. At the Centers for Digestive Health in Highland, Merrillville, Gary, Dyer, Crown Point, and DeMotte, Indiana, the knowledgeable team of board-certified gastroenterologists offers a range of treatments to ease symptoms and boost digestive wellness. Call the nearest office or book an appointment online for acid reflux treatment.

Acid Reflux Q&A

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acids wash up into your esophagus, the tube leading from your throat down to your stomach. 

Most people experience acid reflux at least once in their life. Unfortunately, for some people, it's a chronic issue that can make ordinary things like enjoying a good meal impossible.  

What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

Acid reflux symptoms can include:

  • Heartburn
  • Bad taste at the back of your mouth
  • Frequent belching
  • Lump in your throat
  • Needing to clear your throat often
  • Hoarseness

Acid reflux symptoms can vary considerably in severity. If you have mild bouts of acid reflux twice a week or more or moderate-to-serious acid reflux once a week or more, it's called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. 

If you don’t treat chronic acid reflux, you can potentially develop Barrett's esophagus, a condition that could lead to esophageal cancer.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux can happen when the lower esophageal sphincter — the muscle at the bottom of your esophagus — either malfunctions or weakens to allow acid backwash. Diaphragm muscle weakening can also play a role, as can gravity.  

Certain factors can increase your risk of acid reflux, including:

  • Obesity
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Connective tissue disorders 
  • Pregnancy
  • Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying)

Some controllable factors can aggravate acid reflux, including smoking, certain medications, fatty foods, alcoholic beverages, coffee, eating big meals, or late-night eating.

How is acid reflux diagnosed?

Your Centers for Digestive Health doctor assesses your symptoms and health history. They may make a clinical diagnosis at that point. If your doctor isn't certain what's causing your symptoms or needs to look for changes in your digestive tract, they normally recommend an upper endoscopy

An upper endoscopy allows your doctor to examine your upper digestive tract for abnormalities. If, after an upper endoscopy, the reason for your symptoms is unclear, they may recommend pH monitoring. This test works much like an upper endoscopy, but its main focus is measuring how much stomach acid moves into your esophagus and how often it happens.

Less commonly, you may need tests like esophageal manometry or a barium swallow as part of the diagnostic process.

How is acid reflux treated?

Treatment varies with your specific diagnosis and test results. Your Centers for Digestive Health doctor may prescribe daily medications to neutralize stomach acid, reduce stomach acid production, or prevent the lower esophageal sphincter from relaxing too much.

Lifestyle changes like healthier eating and weight loss may significantly reduce acid reflux. If you develop Barrett's esophagus, you may need a radiofrequency ablation procedure to destroy the damaged tissue. 

You don't have to live with acid reflux. Call the Centers for Digestive Health, or click the online booking tool for help.