Chronic Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder where stomach acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus. GERD affects 10 to 20% of all adults in the United States and can have a significant impact on quality of life.

Symptoms include burping, chest pain or more commonly heartburn or acid reflux. When this becomes a chronic, long-term issue, it is called GERD and can cause damage to the esophagus The acid backs up into the esophagus because the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close all the way or relaxes very frequently.

Causes of GERD, include:

  • Certain types of food or drink
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Medications
  • Obesity
  • Poor eating habits
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

You may first notice GERD because of a burning in your chest, often described as heartburn. Other common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Bloody stools
  • Difficulty or pain swallowing
  • Cough which may be at night in the sleeping position
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat
  • Sour taste in mouth
  • Sensation of a lump in throat or food stuck in throat

GERD is usually diagnosed based on symptoms and improvement using acid blocking medications. Other tests may be run to evaluate damage, including:

  • Upper endoscopy – using a lighted, flexible tube to examine your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. This will find inflammation or narrowing of the esophagus.
  • Esophageal pH studies – using a thin tube with a sensor through your nose into the esophagus to measure how often acid reaches the esophagus. Catheter is left in place for 24 hours.
  • Wireless pH capsule study – a sensor is placed in the esophagus to measure the frequency of acid reflux events over a 48 hour period. The capsule will pass through your system and into your stool.
  • Esophageal manometry – using a thin tube with a sensor through your nose into the esophagus to measure pressure while sipping water to evaluate other causes of regurgitation.

Our experts can help you manage the symptoms of GERD through lifestyle modifications, medications, or surgery.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Recognized Leaders in Treating GERD

Penn State Health is a tertiary (specialty) care center for treatment of GERD and serves as a referral center in central Pennsylvania. We’re experienced in treating the most complex and difficult to treat cases of gastric reflux disease and associated complications.

A Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Team Approach

Our gastric reflux specialists offer more than just a diagnosis or second opinions for GERD, we are a compassionate team of physicians with decades of experience. Our team of medical and surgical specialists work together to offer you both surgical, endoscopic and nonsurgical solutions for the best possible function and control your symptoms.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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Convenient Locations

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