When Wayne Giron went to bed each night, he experienced indigestion that was so bad he felt like throwing up or as if someone were sitting on his chest.
“It would wake me up in the middle of the night,” Giron said. “And I wound up chewing a lot of Tums.”
Fed up with sleepless nights and popping antacids, Wayne saw Dr. Harsh Dalal, a gastroenterologist who practices at Methodist Hospitals.
“Whenever people have these symptoms, we generally perform a gastroscopy to determine their cause,” Dr. Dalal said.
During a gastroscopy, a patient is lightly sedated, and a long, flexible tube called an endoscope is inserted down the throat and into the esophagus. A tiny camera on the end of the endoscope lets the doctor examine the esophagus, stomach, and the beginning of the small intestine. The procedure takes an average of only five to 10 minutes.
A gastroscopy can help confirm or rule out the presence of medical conditions like gastritis, peptic ulcers, and some forms of cancer, as well as allergic conditions, such as eosinophilic esophagitis and celiac disease. It can also see if acid reflux has caused changes to the lining
of the esophagus, called Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-cancerous lesion. The gastroscopy performed on Wayne determined that the cause of his stomach issues was gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD, or acid reflux. He is among almost 200 million Americans who suffer
“That’s actually the most common thing we find,” Dr. Dalal said. “There is no need to suffer from GERD because it can be treated.
GERD happens when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, which can irritate the lining of the esophagus. Its number one symptom is heartburn. It can also cause chest pain.
Diet is one way of controlling GERD.
“We recommend avoiding spicy and fried foods. Coffee, even decaffeinated, is the number one offender, Dr. Dalal said.
Dr. Dalal explained that in most cases, patients respond to a change in diet. For those
who do not, there are medications, such as omeprazole, which is available over the counter.
“It’s a step-up approach,” Dr. Dalal said. “First, we tell patients to cut down on spicy foods, coffee and alcohol, and to avoid eating late at night. If they’re under stress, we ask that they try to reduce it, which isn’t always possible.”
According to Wayne, Dr. Dalal told him he had what’s called a nervous stomach, and he was given medications that resolved his stomach issues. With his suffering behind him, Giron now recommends Dr. Dalal to anyone needlessly living with the pain and discomfort of GERD.
Harsh Dalal, MD, is a board certified gastroenterology specialist and a member of the Methodist Hospitals medical staff.