Healthy Beginnings

Ask the Expert: Do You Suffer From Frequent Heartburn or GERD?

What Is GERD?

Frequent heartburn, also known as GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) occurs when the one-way valve between the esophagus and stomach loosens and stops functioning properly. This can result in the “reflux” of the stomach’s contents into the esophagus and a sour or bitter liquid feeling in the throat or mouth. Heartburn is described as a fiery feeling in the chest.

What Are the Common Symptoms and Treatments for GERD?

The most common symptom is heartburn, but others include regurgitation, hoarseness, belching, sore throat, asthma-like symptoms, chest pain or discomfort, excessive throat clearing, persistent cough, bloating and burning in the mouth or throat. If left untreated over time, GERD can cause permanent changes to the esophagus lining that can lead to cancer.

In many cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor about foods to avoid and other prevention measures, such as losing weight, if needed, and waiting a few hours before lying down after meals. If GERD is chronic, medications may be required, often throughout the rest of one’s life.

Can I Benefit from Therapeutic Intervention?

Surgery may be an option for those who do not respond well to medications, or as an alternative to a lifetime of taking medication.

If you feel you may be a candidate for surgery, talk with your doctor about EsophyX™ Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF).* This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that creates an anti-reflux valve where your stomach and esophagus connect. The procedure is performed in under an hour, in most cases, and typically requires just one night in the hospital. Most patients feel fine by the next day. Best of all, after about 4 weeks, many people stop experiencing heartburn completely. There are no incisions, and patients can usually get back to normal activities within days. *

Meet the Expert: Michael Murray, MD, FACS, is a general surgeon and is board certified in anti-reflux surgery, breast and endoscopic surgery, and general surgery. While growing up in Philadelphia, he knew he wanted to become a doctor. After excelling in science, biology and anatomy, Dr. Murray went on to study medicine at Hahnemann School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his residency in general surgery at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and interned at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. He has made Northern Nevada his home for 17 years and enjoys spending much of his free time hunting and enjoying the great outdoors. For an appointment with Dr. Murray, call 775-352-5384.

Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Northern Nevada Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.

* Individual results may vary.