Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a more severe form of acid reflux, heartburn or acid indigestion. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscle at the bottom of the throat) opens spontaneously or does not close properly, and stomach contents rise into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation.
Occasional acid reflux is common and does not necessarily mean one has GERD. More persistent reflux (occurring more than twice a week) is considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.
GERD is on the rise in our country, as obesity is on the rise.
What are the Symptoms and Risk Factors for GERD?
Burning in Chest
GERD can affect anyone of any age and weight. But certain factors put you at a greater risk of developing the condition, including:
Lifestyle choices such as smoking & alcohol consumption
Certain conditions such as hiatal hernia or pregnancy
Overconsumption of fatty, fried, sugary foods
Occasional heartburn or acid reflux is common and usually resolves with over-the-counter medications. When symptoms occur more frequently (two or more times per week), seem severe or do not respond to medication, it’s time to see a doctor. If left untreated, GERD can lead to more serious complications.
At Weight Loss Specialists, a GERD diagnosis begins with a thorough exam with one of our board-certified doctors, including a review of your personal and family history. If indicated, we may recommend the following:
Esophageal Motility Study
Treatment for GERD varies depending on each patient’s unique situation and degree of the condition, but may include:
such as not eating before bedtime, quitting smoking and a change in diet and eating habits
You may not be able to prevent GERD, but you can make lifestyle changes, which may decrease the symptoms associated with GERD and your risk of developing other, more serious, health problems.
Long term use of medications to treat GERD may cause side effects. As such, surgery may be the optimal treatment for patients that are young and would need long term use of medications - even if the medications successfully treat GERD.
Tarik Al-Kalla, M.D.
As a fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon, Dr. Al-Kalla sees many patients seeking help with weight loss, but many of them are also suffering from related conditions, including severe heartburn and reflux. This is where his interest in modern treatments for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) began.
Dr. Al-Kalla has extensive experience in open, laparoscopic and robotic surgery in both general and bariatric surgery and uses minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. His skill set extends to hiatal hernia and reflux surgery, abdominal hernia surgery and the latest advancements in the treatment of GERD. Dr. Al-Kalla was recognized as a 2020 Top Surgeon by Texas Magazine’s Top Doctors.
"The goal of treating GERD at Weight Loss Specialists is not only to decrease bothersome GERD symptoms but also to decrease your risks of developing other, more serious esophageal conditions."
Dr. Tarik Al-Kalla
Untreated GERD Can Lead to More Serious Health Conditions
Why is it so important to seek help if you’re suffering with GERD?
As stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, it can cause irritation and inflammation. Over time, complications can develop. The esophagus can narrow, leading to a stricture and swallowing problems. Sores or ulcers can develop which can bleed, be painful and make swallowing difficult. Additionally, precancerous changes can occur to the esophagus, called Barrett’s Esophagus, which is the main risk factor for developing esophageal cancer.
The goal of treating GERD at Weight Loss Specialists is not only to decrease bothersome GERD symptoms but also to decrease your risks of developing other, more serious esophageal conditions.