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Acid Reflux in New Jersey

The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center has two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey where you can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Angela Merlo, M.D. is an experienced Gastroenterologist providing patients with acid reflux disease with the most accurate diagnosis and the most comprehensive treatment plan. 

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. Some degree of reflux is normal and of no consequence. Problematic acid reflux is associated with symptoms and even injury to the lining of the esophagus. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is when there are symptoms of acid reflux but not necessarily an injury to the esophagus. Reflux esophagitis is when there is also damage to the esophagus.  If symptoms like burning in your chest happen more than twice a week, you could have acid reflux disease.

What Causes Acid Reflux Disease?

Many factors are involved. Hiatal hernias are often blamed but in fact many people with hiatal hernias do not have acid reflux.  Risk factors for acid reflux disease include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy
  • Eating large or heavy meals
  • Drinking certain beverages such as alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee and tea
  • Lying down immediately following a meal
  • Smoking
  • Snacking around bedtime
  • Taking aspirin, blood pressure medications, certain muscle relaxers or ibuprofen
  • Eating certain foods such as chocolate, onions, tomatoes, citrus, fatty foods

What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease?

The most common symptoms of acid reflux disease are:

  • Heartburn, an uncomfortable or burning pain that moves through your chest and throat
  • Regurgitation, a bitter or sour tasting fluid that moves into your throat or mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or the sensation that food does not pass

Patients with acid reflux disease may also experience other symptoms such as:

  • Chronic sore throat
  • Hoarseness, chronic cough, or wheezing
  • Hiccups
  • Black or bloody stools
  • Bloody vomiting
  • Frequent burping
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss for an unknown reason

How is Acid Reflux Disease Diagnosed?

If you experience symptoms of acid reflux disease two or more times per week, or if medications do not bring lasting relief, you need to talk to Dr. Merlo. Control of symptoms is important to provide a better quality of life and prevent the consequences of esophageal injury. Dr. Merlo could recommend special tests to check for other problems and confirm your diagnosis. You might need one or more tests:

  • Upper endoscopy examines the esophagus and stomach for signs of damage such as ulcers, inflammation, strictures.
  • Biopsies performed during an upper endoscopy check the lining under a microscope for inflammation, allergies or infection.
  • Esophageal manometry checks the swallowing function of the esophagus and the competency of the LES.
  • A pH monitor checks for acid in the esophagus. A device is inserted into the esophagus and remains in place for a day or two while measuring how much acid is in the esophagus.

Can Acid Reflux Disease be Treated With Diet and Lifestyle Changes?

Yes! Dr. Merlo can help identify specific foods that may be the underlying trigger. Avoiding the foods and drinks that trigger the symptoms of acid reflux is one of the most effective treatment methods. There are other steps that you can take:

  • Do not lie down for at least two hours after eating
  • Do not wear tight belts or clothes
  • Eat smaller meals more often during the day
  • Quit smoking
  • Sleep in a chair if you take naps during the day
  • Take steps to lose weight with diet and exercise if you are overweight or obese

Talk to Dr. Merlo about whether medications might be triggering your acid reflux symptoms.

If you live in the Trenton or Princeton, New Jersey and suffer from acid reflux, contact the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center in Lawrenceville to schedule an appointment today for the exceptional care you deserve. Dr. Angela Merlo is an experienced Gastroenterologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of acid reflux in adults and children.