Kevin H. Ashby, MD
Gastroenterologist servicing Orange County, CA located in Foothill Ranch, CA
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects about 20% of adults today. If you have heartburn and acid reflux on a regular basis, it might be GERD — and it’s usually treatable. Experienced gastroenterologist Kevin Ashby, MD, located in Foothill Ranch, California, where he offers expert diagnosis and treatment. Book your appointment with online scheduling or call the office today.
GERD Q & A
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition in which you have mild episodes of acid reflux — when your stomach contents flow backward into your esophagus — twice a week or more.
If you have moderate to severe acid reflux, Dr. Ashby may diagnose GERD if you have one or more episodes weekly.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
Regular acid reflux typically causes a variety of uncomfortable issues, especially heartburn, a burning pain in the upper chest that can gravitate toward your neck. Heartburn can intensify when you're lying down, and it usually happens shortly after you eat.
Other common symptoms of GERD include:
- Bitter taste in mouth
- Lump in your throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Food sticking in your throat
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
- Chronic cough
- Chest pain
- Frequent burping
Some signs of GERD — chest pain during physical activity, unintentional weight loss, frequent choking, vomiting blood (or coffee grounds-like material), and bright red or tarry stools — are potentially serious. If you have any of these symptoms, call Dr. Ashby right away.
What causes GERD?
Most of the causes of frequent acid reflux and heartburn are related to a weakening or malfunctioning esophageal closure muscle (esophageal sphincter).
Aging, smoking, obesity, alcohol use, and other factors can increase your risk of esophageal sphincter problems, and therefore your risk of GERD. About 80% of GERD sufferers also have a hiatal hernia, in which the stomach protrudes into the chest.
Eating triggering foods, eating too fast, eating too much, and eating late at night can worsen your GERD symptoms.
If you're having GERD symptoms, Dr. Ashby can evaluate your issues and perform tests such as an upper endoscopy to make a diagnosis.
How is GERD treated?
GERD treatment usually requires both habit changes and medical care.
Dr. Ashby can recommend specific changes, such as avoiding foods that trigger heartburn, not eating before bed, and elevating the head of your bed.
Medication can reduce your stomach acid and improve your comfort. Options include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H2RAs.
Most cases of GERD improve significantly with conservative care, but in some cases, you could need surgery. Dr. Ashby may recommend a procedure such as fundoplication, in which he routes your lower esophagus through an opening in the stomach muscle.
This adds pressure to your lower esophagus and minimizes acid reflux. Dr. Ashby can also repair hiatal hernias during this surgery.
If you have GERD, Dr. Ashby can help you explore your treatment options so you can live free from acid reflux and heartburn.
Book your appointment by calling Kevin Ashby, MD, or use the online scheduler today.