Management of Acid Reflux: Q&A with Dr Deepak Suri
Q: What are the symptoms of acid reflux and how is it diagnosed?
The main symptom is heartburn (a rising, burning feeling behind the chest). It can vary with posture and is often worse after eating large, fatty, or spicy meals. Other symptoms may include regurgitation or an acidic or bitter taste in your mouth. You may be asked to try an acid-suppressing medication (PPI) to see if your symptoms improve. If they do not improve, an endoscopy may be required for patients with chronic symptoms, patients over the age of 55, those with diagnostic uncertainty, or any with alarming symptoms.
Q: What can be done to reduce acid reflux?
Simple changes to lifestyle factors can help alleviate reflux symptoms. Eat small meals, aim to lose excess weight, avoid spicy, fatty and acidic foods, raise the head-end of your bed by about 10cm, and quit smoking.
Q: Can medications be prescribed for treatment?
Acid-suppressing medications (PPIs) are the most effective treatment and the key to their effectiveness is how they are taken. For best results, the drugs should be taken once or twice a day 30 minutes before meals. There are over the counter options as well, such as OTC antacids which neutralise acid and can be useful in mild reflux. Others are designed to form a protective barrier between the gastric juices and the oesophagus.
Q: What is Helicobacter Pylori (HP)?
Helicobacter Pylori (HP) is a common bacterium found in the upper gastrointestinal tract of more than half of the world’s population, but over 80% of individuals infected with these bacteria do not experience symptoms.
Q: Does Helicobacter Pylori (HP) affect patients with reflux?
The role of HP in reflux is controversial. Treatment may improve symptoms in some patients but others find that their symptoms seem to worsen. Finally, it may be that HP is perhaps protective of other upper gastrointestinal conditions. I usually suggest eradicating it in those patients primarily with dyspeptic symptoms, as opposed to reflux symptoms.
Dr Deepak Suri is a General Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist at Highgate Private Hospital, treating patients with symptoms such as abdominal pain, dyspepsia, reflux, diarrhoea, constipation, rectal bleeding as well as assessing and treating patients with liver dysfunction and abnormal liver tests. Dr Suri believes in a holistic and individualized approach to patients and their symptoms.