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Sharon Gillson

Heartburn / GERD Blog

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The Basics of Peptic Ulcers

Monday May 19, 2014

Peptic ulcers can cause a variety of symptoms, and these vary from patient to patient. Some patients with ulcers have minimal, unusual, or even no symptoms at all. Others may have every symptom. This is why it is very important to consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

It is important to understand the causes of peptic ulcers. In the past, it was believed stress and diet caused peptic ulcers. Later, researchers stated stomach acids (hydrochloric acid and pepsin) contributed to the majority of ulcer formation. Today, however, research shows that most ulcers develop as a result of infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

Since most peptic ulcers are caused by H. pylori, your doctor will most likely confirm the presence of this bacteria before doing other diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests tests for peptic ulcers can also include doing an upper endoscopy or barium x-rays.

If testing shows peptic ulcers are caused by an H. pylori, and standard treatment in these cases is a combination of drugs, including antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor. If NSAIDS are the cause of your ulcer, you should stop taking these remedies. During the healing process for an NSAID-induced ulcer, your doctor may recommend the use of antacids to neutralize the acid, and H2-blockers or proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid production. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes, for your treatment.

Many people think ulcers are an "adult disease." However, childhood peptic ulcers can and do develop. Children develop both duodenal and stomach (gastric) ulcers, though gastric ulcers are more common in children. The ulcer's location will determine the treatment.

Share your experience: If you have a peptic ulcer, what symptoms led to your peptic ulcer diagnosis?

The Basics of Hiatal Hernias

Monday May 19, 2014

A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm, and up into the chest. This opening is called a esophageal hiatus or diaphragmatic hiatus.

Approximately 50 percent of hiatal hernia patients don't experience any symptoms. For the other 50 percent of patients, the these hiatal hernia symptoms may occur. There are a number of contributing factors that can cause hiatal hernias. While some patients with a hernia hernia may also have GERD, GERD doesn't cause a hiatal hernia.

Various tests can be used to diagnose a hiatal hernia, though the tests most often used are the barium x-ray and the upper endoscopy. After the presence of a hernia is diagnosed, the treatment will vary by patient. As mentioned above, approximately 50% of patients with a hiatal hernia won't experience any symptoms, and may not require any special treatment. For those who do experience symptoms, which are usually heartburn related, they can discuss with their doctor the lifestyle modifications, the dietary changes, and any medications (such as antacids, H2 blockers, or proton pump inhibitors) that may be needed.

In some cases, such as when complications occur with a paraesophageal hiatal hernia, surgery may be needed. This type of surgery is commonly done as a laparoscopic procedure.

The Basics of GERD

Monday May 19, 2014

GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents reflux back up into the esophagus.

Heartburn and acid regurgitation are the main symptoms of GERD, though some people with GERD don't experience any heartburn episodes. This is why it's important to know all the possible symptoms of GERD.

While the majority of doctors will prescribe a trial of acid-suppressive therapy, and make a diagnosis based on the patient's response to this, there are tests to diagnose GERD a doctor may want to have performed.

Treatment for GERD will usually start with certain lifestyle modifications and dietary changes. If you continue to have symptoms after these modifications, your physician will discuss with you the use of antacids, H2 blockers, and Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). If your physician and you decide a surgical option is needed, the most common surgical treatment for GERD is the fundoplications surgery. Another procedure sometimes used in the treatment of GERD is the radiofrequency treatment.

When were you diagnosed with GERD? Please take a moment to answer in the poll below. If you would like to share your story on what symptoms led to your GERD diagnosis, you can do so here.

Recent Articles on Heartburn / GERD

Monday May 19, 2014

Complications of GERD - Informational Articles
You may suffer from heartburn (acid reflux) two or more times a week, and think it's no big deal. But it can become a really big deal. If you are living with acid reflux disease (or GERD), and it goes untreated or is under-treated, the constant acid reflux can begin to irritate the lining of the esophagus. When this happens, complications can set in.

Glossary of Heartburn Related Terms
This is a comprehensive collection of heartburn related glossary terms.

Heartburn Related Videos
This is a collection of free online videos about heartburn and GERD.

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Related Information:

How to Get Heartburn Relief

Friday May 9, 2014

If you experience heartburn because of having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a hiatal hernia, a peptic ulcer, or some other digestive disorder, finding heartburn relief is important.

Before starting any treatment or remedy for heartburn, you should talk to your doctor about what is best for you to consider.

Learn how you can get heartburn relief.

Related Resources:

Tips for Seniors on the Safe Use of Acid Reflux Medications

Friday May 9, 2014

As a person gets older, they may be faced with more health conditions that they will need to treat on a regular basis. This includes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you are a senior citizen and on various medications, you no doubt know the importance of taking medication safely. Sometimes the difficulty arises when the number of medications, and medical conditions they treat, increases. That's a lot to keep organized at times. These tips on safe use of medications can go a long way in helping you with this part of your health care.

Related Information:

Antacids

H2 Blockers

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Using Acid Reflux Medications Wisely

Friday May 9, 2014

If you decide to take medication for any medical condition, you should know how to take that medication wisely. Up to half of all those who take medications do not take them as directed. This could be the result of not reading the labels on the prescriptions bottles or on the bottles of the over the counter meds, missing doses, using medication after it's expiration date, etc.

In order to make sure you lower your risk of having problems with the medications you take, you can follow the tips in this article on using medications wisely.

Related Resources:

Antacids

H2 Blockers

Proton Pump Inhibitors

What Not to Do if You Have Heartburn at Night

Friday May 9, 2014

If you suffer from heartburn at night, you know how it can cause a restless (or even sleepless) night. Unfortunately, sitting up all night in an effort to avoid the heartburn is not a good option. However, you can learn what NOT to do in order to prevent the heartburn before it begins, and allow you to sleep.

Related Resources:

Living with a Digestive Disorder

Monday April 21, 2014

Tips and strategies for living with digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, and hiatal hernias. Check out this article on Living with a Digestive Disorder.

Useful Links:

Digestive Disorders Help Articles

Monday April 21, 2014

There are many disorders and diseases of the digestive system. Some, like gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, and hiatal hernias can cause heartburn. Others may not heartburn as a symptoms, but because some people who have one of the above mentioned conditions also have other disorders of the digestive system, such as gallstones and gastritis, information is provided for these also. Check out this article Digestive Disorders Help Articles.

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