When it comes to stomach issues, you don’t have to just live with them – help is here

August 10 – For those of us who know the telltale signs of a spicy dinner long after it’s been eaten, the concept of acid reflux is not a new one.

Feeling that all the time, though, is not good and should be addressed.  

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a procedure used to examine the upper part of the digestive tract. It’s a narrow, flexible tube with a light and small video camera.

Sommer said, “This is more of a diagnostic procedure, so it’s not considered a screening procedure. So this is usually when you have symptoms.”

Anyone suffering from acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may need an EGD to see what’s going on.

The procedure goes down the esophagus into the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine.

Sommer said, “So the doctor can take a look and see what’s going on down there, if there’s any irritation, if you’re having symptoms of nausea, vomiting, trouble swallowing.”

Abdominal pain, bleeding and unintentional weight loss could be signs that an EGD is needed.

Sometimes acid reflux can be controlled with medication and diet changes, but if they symptoms persist even after those treatments, that’s when an EGD is considered.

Cancerous and noncancerous tumors and gastritis can also be discovered.

Sommer said, “A lot of times it just really is the inflammation. Esophagitis, which is inflammation in your esophagus. Gastritis is inflammation in your stomach and duodenitis is like I said the duodenum it’s just inflammation there and usually from a backwash of acid. It’s a good diagnostic tool to have if you have those symptoms.”

In terms of GERD, it’s more of a long-term build-up of acid.

Sommer said, “It occurs usually when the acid pushes back into your esophagus and causes irritation. Some people think they’re actually having chest pain, like a burning sensation in your chest, but it usually is associated with right after you eat a meal, especially a heavy meal.”

Some people feel it when they lie down at night and sometimes food can be regurgitated and a sour taste can appear in the mouth.

Sommer said, “A lot of time the inflammation causes swelling so when you’re trying to swallow, you feel like food might get stuck in your throat or there’s an irritation, so you get that lump in your throat.”

An ongoing cough or hoarse voice can also appear as symptoms.

Sommer said, “Sometimes people think they have a cold or they have some type of other infection, but it could be GERD.”

For people with asthma, GERD can trigger an asthma attack, so it’s important to get it treated.

Some people are more at risk for acid reflux, including those who are overweight or obese. Pregnancy can also bring about heartburn and smoking can increase a person’s chances of having GERD.

Sommer said, “Some types of medication that you take can increase the acid in your body causing you to have symptoms of GERD.”

Scleroderma can also cause acid reflux as well as a hiatal hernia.

People can also have an abnormally slow emptying of the stomach, which can also increase the chances of GERD.

Medications can help block the acid.

A hiatal hernia is when the upper part of the stomach pushes into the chest and make it difficult for the food to pass through, creating an increase in acid buildup.

Sommer said, “Small hiatal hernias you don’t usually have to do anything with and can be managed by medication. Larger ones may require surgery. For the most part if you’re compliant and you can take the medication, you can keep your acid down and that will reduce the symptoms of the hiatal hernia.”

An upper endoscopy will diagnose a hiatal hernia.

Sometimes chronic acid reflux or GERD can actually damage the lining of the stomach. That can be treated with medication.

Sommer said, “We are here to help.”

For more information on upper GI issues, click here: https://www.keywestsurgicalgroup.com/