The most comprehensive and advanced reflux care in one place

You’ve lived with the uncomfortable symptoms of long-term heartburn, throat discomfort, coughing and reflux for far too long. If it’s time to take the next step in finding relief from the nagging discomfort, visit our team at the Reflux Center of Westchester. The Center’s unique, multi-disciplinary team of physicians and nutritionists work closely together, in one location, to personalize an effective reflux care plan just for you.

Our care team includes doctors specializing in the fields of gastroenterology, otolaryngology (oh-toe-lair-in-GOLL-oh-jee; the medical study of the ears, nose and throat), and thoracic (tho-RAS-ik; the area of the body between the neck and abdomen) surgery. In addition, a nutritionist completes the circle of care by providing dietary support to your overall treatment plan.

An accurate diagnosis of your symptoms is important to develop your personal treatment plan. Using advanced digital technology, your care team will complete a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. While medication is traditionally the first treatment option for reflux, our knowledgeable team strives to give you alternative treatment options as well. For some people with reflux, a successful diet-based treatment approach may help avoid the cost and potential side effects and complications of long-term medication use. In some cases, your reflux care team may suggest a surgical procedure as the best long-term treatment option for you.

Long term use of medication and ongoing symptoms could suggest other potential causes or contributing factors of your symptoms. Our multidisciplinary approach combines expertise from all three specialties to find and treat other contributing factors allowing the body to heal and symptoms to resolve.

If you suffer from reflux, you’re not alone. An estimated 20 percent of people of all ages living in the United States are affected by reflux.

What is reflux disease?

Many people have a little heartburn now and then. You may recognize it as a burning sensation located beneath your breastbone and reaching up toward your throat. If you experience heartburn often and with other symptoms, you may have a reflux disease, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Reflux (or GERD), is a digestive disorder involving your stomach, esophagus (food tube), larynx (voice box) or pharynx (throat). You are not alone. It’s estimated that around 20 percent of people of all ages living in the United States are affected by reflux. Many of these people can control their symptoms with dietary changes, medications, or both. If you encounter frequent throat clearing, coughing, hoarseness, a sensation of a lump in the throat, a burning or sour taste, or trouble swallowing, you may be experiencing reflux into the throat, or laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

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What causes reflux?

Male patient and doctor's appointment

While eating, the food you swallow travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. A small muscle, or sphincter, at the bottom of the esophagus opens to allow food to enter the stomach, then closes to keep the food inside the stomach. When the sphincter does not close properly or completely, your stomach acid can move back, or reflux, into the esophagus causing heartburn. This reflux can sometimes move further up the esophagus and into the throat, where it can cause irritation of the voice box and other throat structures, resulting in LPR.

Certain lifestyle factors cause reflux such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Overeating
  • Eating or drinking certain foods, such as citrus, chocolate, fatty or spicy foods, alcohol or caffeinated beverages
  • Diets focused on High fat, low fiber, highly processed foods
information graphic of gastroesophageal reflux disease

What are the symptoms of reflux?

Each person may experience symptoms of reflux differently. The most common symptom of reflux is heartburn. You may also taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth. Other common reflux symptoms may include:

The symptoms of reflux can resemble other illnesses or problems. You should always discuss your symptoms and concerns with your doctor.

Diagnosing reflux disease

Your doctor might be able to diagnose reflux after a physical examination and history of your symptoms.

Laryngoscopy (lar″ing-gos´kah-pe)

Laryngoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine the back of your throat and your voice box. The procedure uses a thin, flexible cable with a camera attached to the end – a laryngoscope. Your doctor guides the laryngoscope through your nose and into your throat where he can closely examine the throat and its structures. Often, images are displayed on a monitor so your doctor can review them with you.

Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series (also called barium swallow)

This is a diagnostic test that examines the organs of the upper part of the digestive system. A chalky liquid called barium is swallowed and coats the inside of the esophagus and stomach. X-rays are then taken to evaluate the digestive organs.

EGD (upper endoscopy) or TNE (trans-nasal esophagoscopy)

An EGD (or esophagogastroduodenoscopy [e-sof-a-goh-gas-troh-doo-od-ah-NOS-koh-pee]) test allows the doctor to examine the inside of the upper digestive system. A thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. The endoscope allows the doctor to view the inside of this area of the body.

Esophageal high-resolution manometry and impedance testing

This test helps determine the strength of the muscles in the esophagus. It is useful in evaluating gastroesophageal reflux and swallowing abnormalities. A small tube, guided into the esophagus, measures the pressure the esophageal muscles produce at rest.

pH monitoring

This test measures pH or acidity inside the esophagus and is helpful in evaluating GERD. A thin tube, placed into your lower esophagus, contains a sensor that measures the pH in that area. The other end of the tube placed outside the body is connected to a monitor that records the pH levels. Your doctor will evaluate the pH recordings.

woman putting away produce in her kitchen
Our team will help identify the right treatment options for your reflux disorder

If you have reflux disease, your doctor may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes. If your symptoms do not improve, further evaluation may be needed to find the reason why your symptoms are not improving. Medications can be considered, in certain circumstances, to treat your condition. Lifestyle changes including weight loss and stopping smoking, as well as changes in certain food-related habits, can be effective treatments for reflux. Medications can relieve your reflux symptoms like heartburn, and some also allow the esophagus to heal from damage caused by acid reflux.

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Changing your diet and lifestyle refers to things you can control in your life. This could involve factors that can bring on or worsen symptoms of reflux. Although diet may not cause reflux, what you eat and when you eat can aggravate your heartburn, the most common symptom of GERD. Often a diet based on a healthy variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help reduce your GERD symptoms. Recent studies strongly indicate a marked improvement in reflux symptoms by eating a diet generally rich in healthy plant foods and relatively lower in animal foods, with a focus on fish and seafood. Your reflux care team will work closely with you to identify the dietary choices and lifestyle changes that work best for you.

Medications

Surgery and other procedures

Reflux can usually be controlled with medication. If your reflux doesn’t go away after taking medication or you choose to avoid long-term medication use, surgery may be an effective option.

“This is the only Reflux Center in the area that has ENT, GI, and Thoracic Surgery under one roof to treat all aspects of reflux disease from throat to stomach. Our primary focus is on prevention, diet, and stoppage of medications. This makes us very unique.”

- Craig H. Zalvan, M.D., F.A.C.S.
photo of doctor Craig Zalvan