Bariatric Surgery and Gastric Reflux

Bariatric Surgery and Gastric RefluxIn the last two decades, the world has seen a striking rise in both obesity and the number of people suffering from acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Many studies have convinced scientists that along with all of the other health problems caused by obesity, it also contributes to acid reflux. Several studies have shown that being overweight nearly doubles the possibility for GERD symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation of acid, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. According to Texas GERD Institute, one recent study maintains that obese people can be up to six times more likely than normal weight people to have gastroesophogeal reflux.

How does obesity make GERD more likely? Researchers aren’t sure, but some theorize that excess body fat compressing the stomach, diets with fatty and other irritation-causing foods, and hernias could be to blame.

If not controlled, GERD can result in serious problems, including an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Obese people are about three times more likely than normal weight individuals to develop esophageal cancer. Nearly two-thirds of American adults are currently overweight, and esophageal cancer has quadrupled in the last twenty years. GERD is most commonly treated with over-the-counter and prescription medications. However, these drugs do not always work, and taking them for long periods of time can cause other side effects, including weakened bones and gastrointestinal infections.

Losing weight can greatly improve symptoms. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, losing as little as eight pounds can dramatically reduce heartburn. Weight-loss surgeries may also improve GERD. Some studies have shown that the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most effective weight-loss surgery for consistently reducing GERD.

If you have noticed an increase in acid reflux symptoms as your weight has increased, don’t lose heart. Acid-blocking medications may supply short-term aid, and surgery may be an effective option. Bear in mind that in any case, losing weight may also provide relief. Make an appointment with Dr. Tsuda to see if weight-loss surgery is a good option for you.

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