Fall 2017

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1 0 | PULSE Fa l l 2 0 1 7 IS YOUR STOMACH TALKING TO YOU? LIFESTYLE AND DIETARY CHANGES ARE THE KEYS TO MANAGING GERD WRITTEN BY CAROLE JAKUCS, BSN, RN, PHN Y ou've heard the saying—trust your gut and gut instinct. Our stomachs are an integral part of our existence. And if you have stomach problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), your quality of life can be impacted in a negative way. GERD occurs as a result of acid from the stomach backing up into the esophagus, due to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) not closing properly. e LES opens to allow food to travel from your esophagus into your stomach for digestion. How you eat, what you eat and your lifestyle choices can cause the LES to relax too much—resulting in reflux. Symptoms of GERD can include feeling a burning sensation in your chest, having a sour taste in your mouth, a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, a dry cough or the feeling you have a lump in your throat, according to James Sattler, MD, a gastroenterologist with Digestive Care Consultants and Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Sattler says it's possible to minimize the effects of GERD with manageable changes to your diet and lifestyle. Here are tips he gives to his patients: • Eat smaller meals with a between- meal snack • Stick to a low-fat diet • Tobacco—if you smoke, cut back or consider quitting • Alcohol—if you drink alcohol, reduce your intake or don't drink • Caffeine—cut back or consider decaf • Don't eat 1 to 2 hours before bedtime • Control your weight. Even a loss of 5 to 10 pounds (for someone who is over weight) can result in a marked improvement for some patients • Consider raising the head of your bed, by placing 2-inch blocks on the floor under the head portion of the bed. (is works better than sleeping on more pillows.) WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR "If you've been self-treating with over-the- counter medications such as antacids, histamine 2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium and Prilosec, for two to three weeks and you're still having symptoms—it's time to call your doctor for an appointment, so you can be evaluated and treated," says Dr. Sattler. "It's important to see a doctor as long-term acid reflux can cause changes to the lining of the esophagus (called Barrett's Esophagus), which can raise your risk for developing esophageal cancer," he advises. "Patients with long-standing , even mild heartburn often should consider having an endoscopy to see if these changes are present. "Some people may benefit from a variety of surgical procedures if they're not responding to conservative treatment with dietary and lifestyle modifications and prescribed medications," Dr. Sattler adds. "e medical staff at Torrance Memorial has extensive experience, using the latest endoscopic and surgical techniques to treat these patients." H E A LT H L I N KS

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