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Acid Reflux, GERD and Swallowing Disorders

Do you often experience heartburn, belching or a sour-tasting fluid in your throat? Do you regularly cough during or right after eating or drinking? If so, you’re not alone. More than 15 million Americans have some form of a swallowing disorder. It can occur at any age. It can be caused by injury, a nerve or muscle problem or even cancer. It can be temporary, or indicative of a more serious medical problem.

Summa Health medical and surgical specialists focus on diagnosing and treating a broad array of swallowing issues, from acid reflux, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and heartburn to dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and esophageal cancers. In fact, we've been recognized by the U.S. News & World Report as one of the top-performing hospitals in the specialties of endocrinology (diabetes care) and gastroenterology. 

Difference Between Acid Reflux, GERD and Heartburn

While the terms acid reflux, GERD and heartburn are often used interchangeably, they actually have different meanings:

  • Acid reflux is a common medical condition that ranges in severity, from mild to serious.
  • GERD is the chronic form of acid reflux, occurring more than twice a week or causing inflammation in the esophagus.
  • Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux, GERD and Swallowing Disorders

Some signs and symptoms of acid reflux, GERD and swallowing disorders may include:

  • A bitter, sour or acid taste in your mouth
  • Excessive burping, belching and/or bloating
  • Regurgitation
  • Extra effort needed to chew or swallow
  • Coughing during or immediately after eating or drinking
  • Feeling like food is “sticking” in your chest or throat

Please note that chest pain caused by acid reflux and GERD may feel similar to that caused by heart problems. Be sure to have any chest pain evaluated by your doctor.

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Diagnosis of Acid Reflux, GERD and Swallowing Disorders

Since symptoms can vary in severity and frequency, Summa Health medical and surgical specialists perform a comprehensive evaluation using various diagnostic tools, like:

  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), a procedure to examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine
  • Modified barium swallow test, a procedure designed to determine whether food or liquid is entering your lungs
  • Esophageal pH monitoring, a test that measures how often stomach acid enters the esophagus
  • High-resolution esophageal manometry, a test to measure the strength and muscle coordination of your esophagus when you swallow

Treatment of Acid Reflux, GERD and Swallowing Disorders

After an evaluation of esophageal function, we’ll create an individualized treatment plan based on the type and severity of your condition and how it’s affecting your day-to-day functionality. Typical treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle changes like eating smaller, more frequent meals or reducing fatty food intake
  • Medical management using proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications, such as omeprazole, that reduce stomach acid and overcome esophagus spasms
  • Minimally invasive surgery like LINX® Reflux Management System or Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication

If you are experiencing symptoms of acid reflux, GERD or a swallowing disorder, talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment with the Summa Health medical and surgical specialists at 330.761.1111.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.