Our Gastroenterology Blog

Posts for tag: GERD

We’re right in the middle of the holiday season, and while that has some celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year”, it’s leaving others suffering in silence due to a digestive disease called GERD. So, before you attend that next holiday party or family gathering filled with delicious appetizers, drinks, and full course meals, make sure you understand this disease and how to keep it from impacting and even ruining the rest of your holiday season.


What is GERD?

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a common problem in America, impacting around 20% of the population. To put that into perspective, 60 million Americans report 2 or more incidents of GERD each month.  GERD is characterized by symptoms and/or tissue damage that results from repeated or prolonged exposure of the lining of the esophagus to acidic contents coming back up from the stomach. This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (the circular muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that allows food and drink to enter into the stomach) becomes weakened or relaxes too much, allowing the contents to leak backward and into the esophagus. The contents from the stomach begin eating away at the tissue in the esophagus, ultimately leading to severe chest pain (heartburn), throat ulcers, scar tissue accumulation, or in severe and more rare cases cancer.

What are the Symptoms of GERD?

There are many symptoms of GERD, but the two most frequent are heartburn and acid regurgitation. Statistics show that 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn at least once a month. Other symptoms of GERD include: 

  • Chronic Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Asthma 
  • Laryngitis
  • Bad breath or a bitter acidic taste in the mouth
  • Dental Erosion 

When Should I Consult My Doctor?

Unfortunately, too many people who are suffering from GERD don’t seek the medical attention they need. In reality, anyone who is experiencing any of the symptoms of GERD regularly or for a prolonged period of time needs to schedule an appointment and consult a physician. They will be able to diagnose your condition - whether it is GERD or not - and help you get the treatment you need. If you are experiencing severe chest pains and aren’t sure if heartburn is the issue, you need to seek medical attention immediately - as heartburn and heart attacks can be difficult to tell apart. With heart attacks, severe chest pains are usually accompanied with shortness of breath and even pain in the jaw or arm. However, symptoms can vary for each individual, and emergency help should be sought when experiencing chest pains to any degree.



How Do I Treat GERD?

Thankfully, GERD is a treatable disease, as there are certain things people struggling with GERD can do to help mitigate or stop the suffering. Certain lifestyle changes can provide relief for GERD sufferers. Losing weight, ceasing smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are key changes.  


Steering clear or minimizing certain  foods that trigger increase acid production like peppermints, chocolates, spicy foods, citrus , or caffeinated beverages can provide the relief many seek.


Some experience discomfort when they eat too much or when they lie down after eating. In fact, some have reported cases of waking up randomly in the middle of the night and gagging, believing they are about to vomit. This sensation occurs because the acid is leaking and creeping back up into the throat in a significant enough way that it causes one to awaken rapidly. After eating, try to stay upright and allow the food to settle in the stomach. In addition, adjusting and increasing the time between dinner and bedtime gives the stomach more time to digest the food before lying down. Shoot for at least a couple hours between eating and laying down if you can.


Unfortunately, changing aspects of one’s lifestyle doesn’t always do the trick when it comes to finding relief from GERD.  In more severe cases, over the counter and/or prescription medications can be extremely helpful. These medications include proton pump inhibitors, H2 receptor blockers, and antacids. There are other medications your doctor may prescribe to counteract stomach acid or help the stomach empty faster. If diet changes and medicine don’t prove effective, your doctor may recommend further testing. If medications and lifestyle changes are not effective, surgical options may be  considered.


If you have questions about GERD or are experiencing some of the symptoms, please schedule a visit with us quickly so we can help you find the relief you deserve! 

September 09, 2020
Category: blog
Tags: GERD  

Find out if your heartburn could actually be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease.

What are the signs of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)? While most people can describe having occasional signs of heartburn or acid reflux, it’s not commonly a chronically occurring condition. You may notice it after eating particular foods or if you eat right before bedtime. But if you are dealing with these symptoms a couple of times a week or if they are affecting your quality of life then it may be more serious than heartburn.

What Is GERD?

Every time you swallow food your stomach produces acid to aid in digestion. In a healthy gastrointestinal system, a valve opens to allow food and liquid to pass from the esophagus to your stomach. In those with GERD, the valve may not close fully or may open too often, which can cause stomach acids to travel back up into the esophagus. If this happens regularly, the lining of the esophagus can become irritated and even damaged.

What Are The Symptoms Of GERD?

While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point during their lifetime, if you have GERD you will likely deal with frequent or persistent heartburn. Everybody is different when it comes to their symptoms. Other frequent symptoms of GERD include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Problems swallowing
  • Belching
  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic bad breath
  • A sour or bitter taste in the mouth

When Should I See A Gastroenterologist?

It isn’t always easy to know when it’s time to visit the specialists at GI Associates. Of course, if you’ve been dealing with heartburn that occurs two or more times during the week, if your heartburn is getting worse, if you have trouble swallowing, or if heartburn wakes you up at night then it’s important that you get your symptoms evaluated. Any of these signs of GERD should be confirmed by your doctor.

How Is GERD Treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and you’re your esophagus a chance to heal. You may need to make lifestyle changes such as changing what and when you eat, sleep positioning, and potentially weight loss if obesity is a factor.

Certain medications may also be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms and to help repair the damage done to the esophagus. Surgery is only recommended when all other treatment options have failed.

Are you dealing with nagging, gnawing heartburn that just doesn’t seem to go away? If so, then it’s time you turned to the experts at GI Associates.


heartburn that won't go away

Heartburn is a very common discomfort that most people will experience at some point. But what if it won’t go away? At what point does heartburn become a cause for concern? 

How To Identify Heartburn

Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. It’s a condition that occurs in the esophagus when a small amount of stomach acid escapes your stomach and sits in your lower esophagus. The acids create an uncomfortable burning sensation that, because of its location near the heart, has been given the name “heartburn.”

Mild heartburn can pop up on occasion for a variety of reasons, but sometimes it can hinder your regular daily activity. If it gets that intense, or it seems like it won’t go away or is consistent over many days, it is important to have it checked. 

What Happens If You Have Frequent Heartburn?

The esophagus is prone to several conditions and disorders. Sometimes considered “frequent” heartburn, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the valve in the esophagus doesn’t work properly. GERD can also cause acid regurgitation when the acid from the stomach comes up through the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth. 


A few potential concerns that can result from untreated GERD or frequent heartburn are Barrett’s Esophagus and potentially a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma. Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the esophageal lining changes, becoming more like the tissue that lines the intestines. Your doctor will test for Barrett’s esophagus with an upper endoscopy and may order additional tests as needed. This assessment is very important because undetected and untreated Barrett’s esophagus can lead to esophageal cancer.


Although rare, Adenocarcinoma is increasing in frequency, making it more important than ever to have heartburn symptoms checked out. Experts aren’t sure exactly what is causing the increase in adenocarcinoma cases, and the increase has been seen mostly in white males, with the average patient being 67 years of age. 

How Can I Decrease My Heartburn?

Often, GERD symptoms occur because of diet or obesity. Eliminating carbonated beverages, caffeine, and fatty or spicy foods can help reduce the frequency of heartburn. Losing weight may also help. Some people may find relief with over-the-counter antacids, although they should not be considered a long-term solution. Anyone with persistent heartburn needs to have their condition diagnosed. 


Some common causes of heartburn include:


  • Types of food/Diet
  • Smoking 
  • Obesity
  • Snacking near bedtime
  • Pregnancy
  • Regular use of blood pressure medications, particularly those used for blood pressure, certain muscle relaxers, or pain relief
  • Frequently drinking carbonated beverages, coffee, tea, or alcohol

Avoiding these can help reduce your symptoms or frequency of heartburn. If you’re experiencing frequent or debilitating heartburn that has begun to affect your daily life, don’t mistake it as “normal.” Make an appointment with GI Associates today!

May 14, 2020
Category: blog
Tags: GERD  

When your stomach is growling so loudly that the person across the room can hear it, it’s tempting to grab a handful of chips or a cookie (or three) - especially since working from home has given most of us quick access to a pantry full of comfort foods! But if you have GERD, mindless snacking can have painful consequences. 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when the stomach acids in your stomach leak back into the esophagus. It’s often called acid-reflux, although GERD is more severe or consistent than occasional acid reflux. Typically, if reflux happens multiple times a week or is severe at least once per week, you may be experiencing GERD.

While a few lifestyle changes can help keep symptoms manageable, deciding on what types of foods to eat can be tricky. Eating large meals, eating fatty foods, or drinking certain drinks like alcohol or coffee can all trigger reflux. 

However, being prepared for when the hunger pangs hit by adding these reflux-busting snacks to your grocery list can help you guard against reflux and help free you to enjoy your meals a little more:

  • Non-citrus fruits
  • Crackers with any type of nut butter
  • Raw vegetables with dip or hummus
  • Baked chips
  • Edamame
  • Pretzels
  • Nuts
  • Half an avocado and some corn chips
  • Baked chicken strips (or any small quantity of lean meat, besides red meat)
  • Oatmeal or high-fiber cereal
  • A baked potato, sweet potato, or yam
  • Any type of grain
  • Rice cakes
  • Granola bars
  • Salad
  • Half a bagel
  • Lowfat dairy, such as low-fat cottage cheese with vegetables or crackers or fruit
  • A hard-boiled egg
  • A veggie or fruit (non-citrus) smoothie  

Moderation is key

Even when you choose healthy snacks, too much of a good thing is, well, not good at all – especially when you have GERD. Limit your nibbles to small serving sizes, which will keep both your hunger and reflux under control. Experts recommend that you eat three small meals and two snacks daily.


When to see a doctor

If your signs and symptoms get worse, if you’re struggling with nausea or difficulty swallowing, or if you otherwise suspect that you may have GERD, meeting with a Board-certified gastroenterologist at GI Associates can help you manage GERD symptoms and create a diet plan that works best for you. 

For more information, call (877) 442-7762 or fill out our online form today.

By GI Associates
November 26, 2019
Category: blog
Tags: GERD   acid reflux  

You hear a lot about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) these days – and for good reason. 

GERD affects up to 1 in 5 or more adults in the U.S.; not to mention a growing number of children. 

While there’s increased recognition of the acronym “GERD,” there’s still a lot of confusion about the cause and effects of the disease. With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to explain what GERD is, and the symptoms to watch for. 

First: What exactly is GERD? 

GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach– your esophagus. The medical term for this “backwash” is “acid reflux,” which can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Reflux becomes a disease when it causes frequent or severe symptoms or damage. Left untreated, it can lead to pain, chronic irritation of the lining leading to cellular changes, chronic cough, and other issues.

While GERD can affect nearly anyone at any age, certain conditions can increase your risk for GERD, including:  

  • Obesity
  • Bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (i.e., hiatal hernia)
  • Delayed stomach emptying

What symptoms should you watch out for?

Chronic heartburn is most commonly associated with GERD. But many people don’t realize there are several other symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. For example, some people may experience one or a combination of the following: 

  • Laryngitis
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Hoarseness in the morning
  • Bad breath
  • Erosion of teeth enamel

If you have nighttime acid reflux associated with GERD, you might experience:

  • Chronic coughing
  • New or worsening asthma
  • Disrupted sleep

Nighttime reflux is often associated with more aggressive symptoms of GERD. You can learn more about sleep and GERD here.

If you  experience  any of the GERD symptoms above, it’s important to talk with a gastroenterologist sooner rather than later. Often, GERD can be managed by lifestyle changes and medication. Call us at 877-442-7736 or request an appointment online.

By GI Associates
September 20, 2019
Category: blog
Tags: GERD  

Enjoy the “wow” without the “ow”

A GERD diagnosis doesn’t mean your foodie life is over. There are plenty of foods to enjoy while minimizing your risk for aggravating your GERD. A few tips to keep in mind, regardless of what you eat, is how you eat. For example, avoiding large, late meals will do you a world of good. Try to allow at least 3 hours between your last meal or snack and bedtime. Taking a short walk after eating will help stimulate digestion and keep the system moving.

Don’t forget that not all foods trigger all people. It’s smart to keep a food journal. You may feel better if you avoid a lot of caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, alcohol, citrus and tomato products, and fatty foods. That’s not to say that you can never have these things, just be smart and consume in moderation. 

If this sounds like a lot of hassle, take heart: GERD diets can be user-friendly and delicious. We’ve collected some of our top recommendations for you to help make the best—and tastiest—GERD diet choices.

1. Fruits and Vegetables, Even Potatoes
Avoid citrus and citrus juices, but open your table to a smorgasbord of others. Go for fresh, in-season stock and make sure they are prepared perfectly. For example, it’s hard to get excited about a can of asparagus, but roasted with a bit of olive oil and sea salt? Take a new approach with the classics and your taste buds may thank you. 

2. Eggs
Eggs have plenty of protein and are super versatile. Have them scrambled, in a frittata, or make yourself an omelet. Skip the onions but add other GERD diet-friendly add-ins such as low-fat cheese, mild turkey sausage, spinach, zucchini, or whatever the fridge has in store for you. Using a non-stick pan will help you reduce the oil you’ll need to prepare this breakfast of champions. 

3. Fish and Lean Meat
If you are a meat eater, carry on! Just be sure to go for lean cuts.  Skip frying and poach, grill, broil, or bake your fish or lean meat and your heart will thank you too. 

4. Carbs
A good GERD diet can include complex carbohydrates. Oatmeal, whole grain bread, rice, and couscous are good sources of healthy complex carbs. Bonus: whole grains and brown rice add fiber to your diet and help keep your digestive system on track.

If you are not sure how to put this all together, we recommend visiting our GERD education page where you will find resources including a video, other lifestyle modifications for alleviating symptoms, and a GERD assessment. 

At GI Associates, we can help you manage your GERD so you can live a more comfortable life. Give us a call at 877-442-7762 to make an appointment today.

By GI Associates
November 12, 2018
Category: blog
Tags: GERD  




What it's like to live with GERD and what you can do

For some, it’s impossible to not be aware of GERD, a condition in which stomach acids travel back up into the esophagus, causing pain, irritation, and damage.

This year, GERD Awareness Week is November 18th - 25th. You can learn more about activities and events you can be a part of by visiting this website.

What is GERD?

Every time you swallow food, your stomach produces acid to aid in digestion. In a healthy gastrointestinal system, a valve opens to allow food and liquid to pass from the esophagus to your stomach. In those with GERD, the valve may not close fully or may open too often. While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point during their lifetime, if you have GERD you will likely deal with it persistently. Everybody is different when it comes to symptoms, but common ones include:

  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Problems swallowing
  • Belching
  • Hoarseness
  • A sour or bitter taste in the mouth

GERD and the holidays

With the holidays approaching, minds have no doubt turned to food and all the feasting that takes place during this most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, 60% of Americans experience GERD at least once a year—and the most common time of year GERD develops is (you guessed it) the holidays. 

The following is a list of foods you may want to avoid if you are prone to GERD: 

  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
  • Alcohol 
  • Mint
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Coffee or any caffeinated beverage
  • Carbonated beverages

Basic lifestyle changes can help to manage or even avoid GERD altogether. Exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and losing excess weight are always a good idea. 

Timing and quantity of meals makes a difference too.  Try eating five or six little meals instead of three huge ones. Avoid eating 2-3 hours before going to bed or lying down. Keep upright and let your digestive system do its thing—and skip the post-feast nap. Your stomach and esophagus will thank you.

Unfortunately for some, GERD symptoms persist past the holidays despite medication and lifestyle changes. If this applies to you, surgical options may be considered.  Ask your gastroenterologist about the best plan for you.

If you have suffered from reflux over an extended period of time, endoscopic evaluation of the lining of your esophagus may be recommended to evaluate for Barrett’s Esophagus, a precancerous condition which can develop into esophageal cancer. Careful monitoring and periodic evaluation help with early detection and prevention of this form of cancer. 

If you think you may have GERD, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you get ahead of this problem so you can focus on the enjoyment of the holidays, not the pain of GERD. Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist at GI Associates by calling 877-442-7762 or using our online form.

By GI Associates
July 26, 2016
Category: Gastroenterology
Tags: GERD  

PrGERDobably most people in Central Wisconsin have suffered heartburn or indigestion at one time or another. But if you have it constantly, or it seems to be getting worse, you may need to talk to a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in conditions related to the stomach and digestive tract, at GastroIntestinal Associates, SC.

Your heartburn may not be just heartburn – it may be Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – a much more serious condition.
GERD is a condition that affects many people each year. GERD is caused when digestive acids in your stomach flow back into your esophagus, causing burning and irritation. This is called acid reflux, and it happens to nearly everyone once in a while. However, if it happens more than twice a week or becomes debilitating, your doctor may diagnose you with GERD.  Left untreated, GERD can cause damage to the lining of your esophagus and possibly lead to other more serious conditions such as Barrett’s, cancer or strictures.

Symptoms of GERD include but are not limited to:

  • Heartburn/chest pain
  • Sour taste in your mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or liquid
  • Feeling of a lump in your throat

It is important to note that if you are having severe chest pain, especially if it is accompanied with shortness of breath, jaw pain or arm pain, you should contact a doctor immediately – these are also signs of a heart attack.

Most of the time, GERD can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications, or a combination of both. In many cases, GERD can be controlled simply by simple diet changes and over-the-counter antacids. However, if it becomes serious, your gastroenterologist will probably prescribe stronger medications for it.

Certain foods may trigger GERD. As each person is different, only you will know which foods cause you problems. However, food and drink are not the only triggers of GERD. Other potential triggers include, but are not limited to:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Asthma

Your gastroenterologist will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you.

If you are looking for a qualified gastroenterologist contact GastroIntestinal Associates, SC, at (715) 847-2558 we have clinic locations in Wausau, Stevens Point, Antigo, Rhinelander, Woodruff and Eagle River.