Diagnosing and Treating Acid Reflux/GERD Online
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) - a ring of muscle at the entrance of the stomach that closes when food passes through - doesn’t close completely. When this happens, it allows stomach acid to re-enter the esophagus, which connects the throat to the stomach. Acid reflux is an uncomfortable condition and may result in heartburn.
GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, is not synonymous with acid reflux. Although the two conditions are closely related, GERD occurs when someone experiences acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week. In some cases, acid reflux progresses to GERD over time.
Common factors that contribute to acid reflux include:
- Eating large meals lying down
- Being overweight or obese
- Snacking close to bedtime
- Drinking carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, or alcohol
- Eating certain foods, including chocolate, tomato, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy foods
During a video consult on Amwell your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to acid reflux or GERD. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Treatment for acid reflux or GERD is different depending on the severity.
Options for treatment of acid reflux or GERD differ by cause, but may include:
- Antacids that neutralize stomach acid, such as Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, or Riopan
- Foaming agents that coat stomach to prevent reflux, like Gaviscon
- H2 blockers that decrease acid production, including Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac