If you find yourself...

  • Sitting up to sleep
  • Avoiding favorite or spicy foods
  • Experiencing trouble breathing
  • Feeling a fiery, burning sensation in your chest or throat

...you could be among the 20 percent of Americans–as many as 61 million adults–who deal with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, often called heartburn, acid reflux disease or acid indigestion. Frequent heartburn may mean constant discomfort, pain and a lifetime of medications. But pain and discomfort can turn into serious health conditions, including asthma and esophageal cancer. If you've lived with GERD for many years, you may be at risk for developing a precancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus, which involves damage to the soft tissue and membranes of the esophagus aggravated by the constant inflammation of acid reflux.

Our Distinctive Approach to GERD

The gastrointestinal physicians and surgeons at Reston Hospital Center specialize in diagnosing and treating GERD. We understand that commonly prescribed medications may offer relief for many, but they don't work for everyone and they're not intended to be taken for long periods of time.

Some medications (proton pump inhibitors or PPIs) have been found to increase your risk for osteoporosis and hip fracture. They can also decrease the effectiveness of heart medications typically prescribed after a cardiac event, which may raise the chances of a second heart attack or a stroke.

Identifying the Anatomy of GERD

At Reston Hospital Center, we recognize GERD as an anatomical problem that needs an anatomical solution–the valve between the esophagus and the stomach malfunctions and can't keep stomach contents and acid from climbing up the esophagus, or you suffer from hiatal hernia. We offer the diagnoses and treatments for this condition that help improve your life.

Our Comprehensive Approach

Our comprehensive approach covers diagnostic pH monitoring of acid/alkaline balance and manometry testing of digestive muscle condition, as well as treatments with endoscopy, radiofrequency ablation and options for incisionless and minimally invasive surgery.

Heartburn is a common term for gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Caused by the back-up (reflux) of stomach acid or contents into the esophagus, the disorder causes a burning sensation and other symptoms, ranging from occasional mild inconvenience to severe and debilitating conditions. If untreated, acid reflux can lead to more serious health problems, including ulcers and esophageal cancer.

GERD typically starts with a burning sensation behind the breastbone that often radiates toward the neck. In addition, you may experience:

  • Regurgitation of fluid or food into the throat or mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Chronic sore throat or cough
  • Asthma, wheezing or chronic bronchitis
  • Hoarseness
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping while lying flat or after eating
  • Suddenly waking from sleep to find yourself choking, coughing or unable to breathe adequately

GERD can often be managed with diet, lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medication. Our specialists work with you to discover the cause of your symptoms, develop a comprehensive picture of your situation and help determine the best approach for you. You may take advantage of these Reston Hospital services:

  • Advanced diagnostics, including endoscopy, a visual examination of the esophagus
  • Digestive testing and esophageal studies, including manometry and pH monitoring, as part of our program known as the Center for Thoracic and Esophageal Disorders
  • Nutritional services and lifestyle counseling to help you manage your GERD symptoms and reduce reflux flare-ups with a GERD diet and over-the-counter (OTC) medication

Minimally Invasive GERD Treatments

Get back to eating foods you love and enjoying your life again. Members of our Institute for Robotics & Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery provide effective and minimally invasive–even incisionless–procedures to correct the anatomical causes of GERD. Visit with our specialists to see if you might be a candidate for a form of GERD surgical treatment.

  • Transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) with EsophyX® surgically repairs the valve between the stomach and the esophagus; we were first in the Washington, D.C., region to offer this incisionless procedure
  • Nissen fundoplication, a laparoscopic procedure for esophageal valve repair using the advanced technology of da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery
  • Halo® system radiofrequency ablation for removal of precancerous tissues related to Barrett's esophagus

Minimally invasive procedures for GERD at Reston Hospital Center offer an alternative to drug therapies, can be a permanent solution for acid reflux disease and put an end to your discomfort and pain.

Explore heartburn/GERD in depth through our online Health Library.