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Kyle McEwin – GERD Success Story

The Word on GERD – the medication Kyle McEwin takes for GERD has kept him feeling great for more than a decade

Kyle McEwin

Kyle McEwin remembers when he was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) several years ago. During a visit to Paris, Texas, he found himself unable to swallow and consequently found himself in the emergency room.

"I had been having problems swallowing before, and I admit I put off going to the doctor," McEwin says. "But this time, I didn't know what was going on."

When he returned to Dallas, he went to see Randal Macurak, MD, an independently practicing gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

After giving McEwin a barium swallow test and an endoscopy, Dr. Macurak determined that McEwin had a severe case of acid reflux that was causing his esophagus to close up. The medication McEwin was then prescribed helped his condition, but before a year passed, he found himself back in the emergency room when his esophagus once again closed up. This time, Dr. Macurak prescribed a different kind of dilation, a balloon dilation, and also switched McEwin to a new medication.

"That change in medication was what did it," McEwin says. "That was 14 years ago. Now I feel great and have been doing fine."

McEwin says Dr. Macurak has always been there for him. "Once I called him from Arby's and told him food was lodged in my throat," he says. "He told me he would meet me in his office at the hospital. When I arrived at Methodist Charlton, he was already there.

"He takes good care of me, and the staff does a super job," McEwin adds.

The gist on GERD

The symptoms of GERD, also called chronic acid reflux, often include:

  • Heartburn that persists for a week or two
  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Burning in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing

"But GERD can also produce a variety of other symptoms," Dr. Macurak says. Those symptoms can include regurgitation or a "wet burp" when food backs up into the throat, nighttime asthma when lying down, nausea after eating, hoarseness, and in some cases, chest pain.

At the root of these troubling symptoms are problems with the muscle connecting the esophagus to the stomach. In normal digestion, that muscle opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent acidic stomach juices and food from flowing back into the esophagus. When that muscle becomes weak or relaxes inappropriately, it does not close properly. As a result, the stomach's contents and acid flow back up into the esophagus. Sometimes, GERD can cause the lining of the esophagus to erode.

A treatment for every patient

The good news is that patients, such as McEwin and Andrew Morsinkhoff can find relief. Morsinkhoff is a patient of Jeffrey Linder, MD, an independently practicing gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Dr. Linder diagnosed him with acid reflux after he complained of severe heartburn and had an endoscopy. After a couple of medication changes to find the one best suited for him, Morsinkhoff is doing fine.

"Methodist is great and Dr. Linder is outstanding," he says. "Before seeing Dr. Linder, every time I would eat, there was heartburn. I tried over-the-counter acid medicine, and it did not work.

"After taking medication and adopting a well-balanced diet with low sodium, my life has returned to normal," Morsinkhoff says. "I cannot praise Methodist, Dr. Linder, and his professional staff enough. I highly recommend Methodist and Dr. Linder to anyone who has gastrointestinal symptoms."

Dr. Macurak says most patients find relief through medications and diet changes. The most effective medications are proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium, Prevacid, and Aciphex. Proton pump inhibitors help GERD by blocking the production of acid in the stomach.

Diet modification includes avoiding acidic juices, such as citrus and tomato juice; not eating within three hours of bedtime; and avoiding fatty foods.

"Some people find that elevating the head while sleeping also helps," Dr. Macurak says. If all else fails, surgery may be required. There are new minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical options. Talk with your doctor about which treatment option is best for you.

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a procedure commonly used to diagnose GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). During this procedure, the physician looks at the inside of the upper digestive system via a thin scope with a light and camera at the end. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis. Sometimes physicians can diagnose GERD from the patient's symptoms, but most times endoscopy is used, especially when the patient has other symptoms, such as stomach discomfort or weight loss.