Heartburn and Acid Reflux Treatment Benicia and Napa, CA
Urgent Care and TeleHealth
Occupational Medicine & Urgent Care located in Napa, CA & Benicia, CA
Do you often have a burning feeling in your upper chest or throat after a meal? If so, we can help.
Reflux esophagitis, commonly called heartburn, is a painful condition that makes you feel like your upper chest and throat are burning. It can also lead to coughing, sore throat, problems with your teeth and even bad breath.
This happens when the valve at the top of your stomach relaxes. The relaxed valve allows stomach acid to make its way up your throat. The acid burns your sensitive esophagus and causes a foul, sour taste in your mouth. Sometimes, it can even cause the esophagus to spasm, resulting in severe pain.
While it’s common to experience heartburn after a large or fatty meal, some people have these symptoms every day or almost every day. At Urgent Care + Telehealth, our doctors and providers offer diagnosis and treatment of chronic heartburn. Our goal is to help you feel better – fast.
At our Napa and Benicia clinics, we accept most insurance plans and also offer discounts for self-pay. We are open 7 days a week. While we encourage appointments when possible, we also accept walk-ins. Our services are usually much more affordable than using an ER and in most cases we have short wait times. We also offer telehealth visits when you are unable to come in.
Should I Go to Urgent Care for Acid Reflux?
Yes, you should visit our urgent care clinic if you have chronic acid reflux. If you notice a pattern to your heartburn – for example, you get it each time you have fast food or overeat – our urgent care team can help you. Sometimes, heartburn is a sign of a more serious medical condition that requires a trip to the emergency room. If you have any of the following symptoms along with your acid reflux, you should visit an ER:
- Chest pain
- Black or tarry stool
- Difficulty swallowing
- Intense abdominal cramps
- Strong abdominal pain that shifts
You don’t have to suffer from chronic heartburn or reflux esophagitis any longer. At Urgent Care + TeleHealth, we offer diagnosis and treatment of the uncomfortable symptoms of heartburn and GERD. To learn more or schedule an appointment with our doctors, contact us today.
What Is Acid Reflux Disease or GERD?
Acid reflux disease, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition in which you experience heartburn or acid reflux at least twice per week. The reflux occurs because the sphincter at the top of your esophagus doesn’t work correctly. Instead of squeezing shut when you’re not swallowing, it relaxes. This allows stomach acid and contents to move up your throat and cause the burning sensation, especially in the area of the larynx (upper throat).
How Is Acid Reflux Disease Diagnosed?
At Urgent Care + TeleHealth, our doctors and medical providers diagnose acid reflux disease based on a physical exam, signs, symptoms and a possible blood test. In some situations, we might recommend referral for additional testing or imaging.
In an upper endoscopy, your doctor inserts a light and camera, called an endoscope, down your throat. The tiny camera is attached to a thin, flexible tube. The camera allows your doctor to look at your esophagus and stomach on a monitor. The images from the camera may show inflammation in your esophagus. This procedure can also be used to collect a biopsy. A biopsy might be needed to test for conditions, such as Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a precursor to esophageal cancer.
Acid Probe Test
In a pH or acid probe test, the doctor places a monitor in your esophagus. The monitor identifies the time and duration of stomach acid entering your throat. You’ll wear a belt with a tiny computer, and the computer collects the data from the monitor.
This test involves measuring how strongly your esophageal sphincter contracts after you swallow. It also examines how coordinated your esophageal muscles are when you swallow.
You may be given a chalky liquid. It coats the lining of your throat and stomach. After you drink it, your doctor performs an X-Ray. The X-Ray reveals the silhouette of your throat, stomach and small intestine. An alternative to the liquid is a barium pill. It contains radioactive barium that X-Rays detect. The half-life is short, and this pill isn’t harmful. The X-Ray results could show a narrowing of your esophagus.
What Can Cause Acid Reflux?
A weak esophageal sphincter causes acid reflux. Obesity, smoking, pregnancy and delayed stomach emptying increase the risk of reflux. Eating large meals, acidic or fatty foods or consuming tomato based foods, carbonated beverages with fructose, alcohol or coffee can worsen reflux. Some medications, such as aspirin, may trigger heartburn.
Additional GERD triggers are citrus juice, chocolates, caffeine, fatty or fried foods, garlic, onions, mint and spicy foods.
Why Is Acid Reflux Important to Treat?
Chronic acid reflux damages your esophagus. This can lead to ulcers or narrowing of your throat. Chronic acid reflux increases your risk of esophageal cancer. Frequent reflux can also erode the enamel of your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities.
What Medications Can Be Used to Treat Acid Reflux?
Our doctors often recommend trying over-the-counter medications to treat mild to moderate acid reflux. Some options include antacids, such as Mylanta, Tums and Rolaids. Acid reducers, such as Tagamet and Pepcid-AC are also effective options. You might try acid blockers, including Prilosec or Prevacid. For moderate to severe acid reflux and acid reflux that happens almost every day, our doctors might suggest prescription-strength acid blockers or proton pump inhibitors. Some options include nizatidine, pantoprazole and omeprazole. Your doctor might prescribe Baclofen, which could strengthen your esophageal sphincter.