Acid Reflux Woes and Recommendations

If you suffer from GERD, the joy of eating can often result in pain. There are solutions to the burn.

SPEARFISH, S.D. – If you suffer from reflux disease, or GERD, the joy of eating often gives way to chronic heartburn that can lead to more serious conditions.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disorder that results from stomach acid moving backward from the stomach into the esophagus. Sometimes reflux causes the burning sensation of heartburn that most of us occasionally feel, but when a person has GERD, heartburn or other symptoms happen more often and cause serious discomfort. This can be a problem, because if it’s not treated, over time, the reflux of stomach acid damages the tissue lining the esophagus, causing inflammation and pain. If it’s long-lasting and untreated it could cause permanent damage and even cancer.

Dr. Andrew VanOsdol, general surgeon at Regional Health Spearfish Hospital says, “Having reflux increases your risk of esophageal cancer. We now know that there are certain changes that we can see in the esophagus that show that somebody has reflux and it could be leading towards that path one of them is called Barrett’s esophagus. It is normal cells that are in an ab normal location … your risk of esophageal cancer is much higher.”

Risk factors for the reflux include eating too much, lying down after a meal, being overweight, eating close to bedtime, eating certain foods and drinking certain beverages, and being pregnant.

VanOsdol says, “The best thing that you can do if you have reflux is control it with diet and lifestyle modifications. So any pill is going to have side effects and some pills are safer than others … everything that we do to you is going to have side effects.”

VanOsdol also recommends raising the head of the bed about six to eight inches to help with reflux issues.

But if those recommendations don’t work to relive discomfort, surgery would be the next option.

The TIF procedure is a minimally invasive treatment in which the esophagus is pulled further into the abdominal cavity and the stomach is gently folded onto the esophagus. This recreates the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux. It’s up to 75 % effective.

Alternatively, there is also the LINX procedure, in which a magnetic ring implant is placed around the LES muscle to help it stay closed unless food is passing through the stomach. It is 90-95 % effective.

Click here for more information on the TIF procedure.

Click here for more information on the LINX procedure.

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