When to go to Urgent Care for Reflux
If you find yourself constantly going back and forth between your primary care doctor and an urgent care facility, it might be time to get serious about your acid reflux. Relying on over-the-counter remedies to help you get through a bout of heartburn will no longer cut it; talk with your doctor about taking a prescription medication, such as Nexium or Prilosec. If you continue having problems with frequent stomach aches and heartburn even after trying OTC medications, consider seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist for evaluation. Many people have surgery before they realize their issues stem from post-nasal drip caused by nasal allergies.
One of my patients recently returned from a trip and came into urgent care complaining of heartburn. I asked if he was having any trouble breathing, but he said that he wasn’t short of breath. He also seemed fine sitting up. Still, I knew that heartburn could be a sign of acid reflux, which in turn can cause an emergency situation because reflux can lead to aspiration—that is, getting some stomach contents into your airway and lungs. In severe cases, you can develop pneumonia from aspiration (think about all those people who choke on their food), but even in less severe cases it’s important to get treatment for the acid reflux as soon as possible since it could lead to aspiration pneumonia down the road.
Peptic ulcers occur most often in your stomach and first part of your small intestine (duodenum). They can also occur in your esophagus, where they are called esophageal ulcers. The two types of peptic ulcers – gastric and duodenal – share some similar symptoms. However, if you have a duodenal ulcer you may feel nauseated or vomit shortly after eating. Treatment varies depending on what’s causing your reflux or allergic reaction and includes medications, lifestyle changes and/or surgery. One thing that’s important is to make sure you don’t ignore warning signs of an ulcer because it can become life-threatening if not treated quickly.
You may have thought about going to urgent care for your reflux but you really shouldn’t. While there are lots of conditions that can cause burning, heartburn and abdominal pain in adults, most cases of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can be treated without a trip to urgent care. Reflux is a common condition where your stomach acid moves up into your esophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach). This causes irritation, discomfort and symptoms like heartburn or chest pain. To treat it, you should start by trying over-the-counter medications like antacids or proton pump inhibitors.