Spring and summer on the Olympic Peninsula are two reasons some of us decide to live in this glorious corner of the world. The warmer weather beckons us outside to take advantage of the trails, set up a spot in the park to read or paint, or enjoy good food and drink with friends and family.
If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn or acid reflux, all the BBQ, good food and toasting can be anything but pleasant. If you’ve been depending on over-the-counter heartburn medication, or if you’ve simply been suffering and missing out on your favorite foods and activities, it is time to take action.
GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Individuals can experience a burning sensation in their chest, usually after eating, which might become more uncomfortable in the evening. Other common signs are difficulty swallowing, a sensation of a lump in your throat or even chest pain. “Experiencing acid reflux from time to time is manageable for most people, but more than a couple of times a week isn’t, and more importantly it doesn’t have to be,” says Dr. Mitra Jafari of Jefferson Healthcare Surgical Associates.
Jefferson Healthcare Surgical Associates offers the convenience of minor procedures, including those for digestive health, in a clinic setting. Providers can recommend next steps after performing an upper endoscopy in the comfort of the clinic. The minimally invasive endoscopy allows for the examination of the inside of the esophagus and stomach. It can detect inflammation of the esophagus or find other complications, for example, Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus can happen in up to 15% of patients with long-standing reflux and can lead to further digestive health complications.
Dr. Jafari explains, “Endoscopy can help detect a pre-cancerous condition of the esophagus, Barrett’s esophagus, in patients with risk factors. It can also help rule out problems such as esophagitis, gastritis or ulcers. Biopsies can be done to ensure there is no bacterial infection of the stomach. “
Prior to the exam, clinic patients receive an IV sedative. The entire exam only takes 10-20 minutes and then the patient can go on with their day. Dr. Jafari says, “Not everyone with acid reflux needs endoscopy but your primary care provider can help in the decision process based on your risk factors and symptoms.”
If you are not able to enjoy all the season has to offer, schedule a consult with your primary care provider.
Note: Always seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if you also have shortness of breath or jaw or arm pain. These could be indications of a heart attack, not heartburn.
Mitra Jafari, MD returned to Jefferson Healthcare Surgical Associates in January 2019. Board-certified in general surgery, her practice includes a broad range of procedures.
Jefferson Healthcare Surgical Associates offers the convenience of minor procedures in a clinic setting, while the hospital is available for patients needing a more encompassing level of care. Schedule a consult: 360.385.5444