Managing GERD

August 10, 2012

Nearly everyone suffers from heartburn at one time or another in her or his life.  But is it really heartburn or is it another condition that is causing you discomfort?

Kurt Barrett, DO, a family practice physician with special interest in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) will present ‘GERD—Medical Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease’ on Tuesday, August 28 at Burnham Brook.  Dr. Barrett will discuss how these and other physical conditions can be aggravated or caused when harsh stomach juices escape into the esophagus. 

The program, which is free to the public, is sponsored through Senior Health Partners in coordination with Bronson Battle Creek.  A lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. followed by Dr. Barrett‘s presentation at noon.  Seating is limited.  Reservations must be made at least 48 hours prior to the event by calling the seminar registration line at 877-462-2247.

“You will likely be astounded to learn how gastroesophageal reflux disease could be involved in their situation,” says Dr. Barrett.  “Our society often equates heartburn or indigestion with GERD.  But GERD can manifest as problems seemingly unassociated with digestion.  The mystery seems even more sinister when the patient denies any apparent digestive problems like heartburn.” 

The condition of laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) results when the voice box and upper respiratory tissues protect themselves from traces of digestive acid.  These common, misunderstood circumstances remain very poorly appreciated and often go unrecognized. 

GERD is sometimes interchanged with the terms heartburn, acid indigestion, or acid related disorder, but not every episode of stomach acid regurgitation causes the sensation of heartburn.  Atypical GERD (including LPR) represents absent or infrequent classic symptoms such as indigestion/heartburn.  When some people have GERD without heartburn they can be labeled as ‘difficult’ or determined to have ‘mystery’ illness. 

The harmful qualities of escaped digestive fluids cause the body to activate its protective apparatus.  The resultant tissue weeping, swelling, edema and muscle spasm in the esophagus is protective.  With ongoing, prolonged, intensive irritation from GERD this protective phenomenon can extend to other interconnected tissues where it seems unwarranted.  Common problems like cough, feeling tired, trouble sleeping, frequent sore throats, sinus trouble, headaches, chest discomfort even neck pain/stiffness can result and be difficult to control.

Senior Health Partners, a community partnership of Bronson Battle Creek, CentraCare, Region 3B Area Agency on Aging, and Summit Pointe, works to expand wellness and educational offerings to senior citizens in Calhoun and surrounding counties.  

Bronson Battle Creek is a 218-bed hospital that provides full outpatient and inpatient acute care including robotic surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services; 100% all private rooms.  It also offers world-class diagnostic capabilities including PET/CT imaging, freestanding ‘open’ and traditional MRI, CT (16- and 64-slice), and 3.0 Tesla MRI.  Bronson Battle Creek has been recognized nationally as one of the safest hospitals, and has been a leader in the development of electronic health records as evidenced by multiple honors as one of America’s ‘most wired’ and ‘most wireless’ hospitals. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and the only hospital in Michigan to receive the CoC’s Outstanding Achievement Award three times in a row. Specialty services include the county’s largest accredited sleep center and a wound-healing center with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.