Health Possible

Dysphagia, Acid Reflux and GERD

March 25, 2024
What is Dysphagia and GERD?

Dysphagia is when you have difficulty swallowing. You may experience this if you have GERD. It is estimated to affect as many as 15 million Americans, and most often occurs in people who are more than 40 years of age.

While dysphagia can be attributed to a variety of causes, including chronic acid reflux caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Did you know Hancock Health has a Heartburn and Dysphagia Clinic? The clinic provides unique patient centered care to address both GERD and dysphagia (swallowing problems). Extensive testing is performed as necessary to identify the core of the problem for each patient.

Your first visit is a consult with the specialist team, which includes a physician and a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). At time of the consult, if further testing is needed, the physician will order the testing, which may include an Esophogram, an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), a Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS), a 24-hour reflux study, or a manometry. After the necessary information is gathered, an individualized plan of care is established for each patient. Usually, a lifestyle change approach as well as medication and/or anti-reflux surgery will be implemented for you.

What types of surgery is available to help with GERD, reflux and heartburn?

If surgery is the optimal path for you, your surgeon will do the surgery that best fits your anatomy and the severity of your symptoms.

What type of providers staff the Hancock Health Heartburn and Dysphagia Clinic?

The doctors who specialize in swallowing problems and GERD in the clinic are surgeons. However, they will only recommend surgery when it is a good option for you. They will also provide medication management. Surveillance care is provided as well, for those who are at high risk of Barrett’s Esophagus or esophageal cancer. If you are due for a colonoscopy, the surgeon can do that at the same time as your EGD for your convenience. The SLP is a specialist in heartburn and swallow disorders and will teach lifestyle changes, address voice disorders that arise from GERD, and provide individualized exercise programs as warranted. A registered nurse and a certified medical assistant will also provide care in the office. A surgery scheduler will be involved in your care if you decide to pursue surgical intervention.


How can I get an appointment?

Since the Hancock Health Heartburn and Dysphagia Clinic is a specialty practice, some insurance companies require a physician order/referral to cover services. If that is the case, your primary care provider (PCP/Family physician) can provide that for you. If you don’t need a referral for insurance purposes, you can contact our office directly at (317) 462-3255 or (317) 462-4684.

How long can I expect to wait for my first appointment?

Once we receive prior authorization for your care in the clinic from your insurance company, we will call to schedule your appointment. Usually that is within one week, but can take up to two-three weeks.

What can I expect at my first visit?

You will be seen by the physician for a consultation/physical examination and a review of your medical records to determine if you need any further testing. If so, those will be scheduled later, so you may eat and drink like normal and drive yourself for the consultation visit. You will also be seen by the SLP, who will provide individualized recommendations to help you begin to feel better quickly while other testing is being conducted.  Expect to be at your appointment for approximately 1 hour on the first visit.