Nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from regular bouts of heartburn, acid indigestion and other symptoms of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a severe, chronic acid reflux condition in which acidic stomach contents back up into your esophagus. The muscle connecting the stomach to the esophagus is weak or relaxes abnormally, allowing this abnormal movement.
Over the last 20 years, the most popular and effective GERD medications on the market, both prescription and over-the-counter, have been a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). However, long-term use of PPIs have been found to harmful to the body.
Over the last few years, there have been many studies looking at whether long-term PPI use contributes to gut infections, bone loss, chronic kidney disease, and even dementia. As a precaution, experts recommend that people who have been taking more than one PPI a day for many years seek a medical re-evaluation to see if they still need and are benefitting from the medication.
Here are a few classic symptoms of GERD to look out for:
- Heartburn: For many people, acid indigestion (known as heartburn) is more than an occasional annoyance after eating a greasy meal. Research shows that more than 60 million people suffer from this burning sensation that can extend from the breastbone to the neck and throat. Heartburn sufferers may also experience a sore throat, hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, or a feeling of a lump in the throat. Because there can be chest pain associated with GERD, heartburn sometimes is mistaken for heart attack.
- Regurgitation: a sensation of acid backed up in the esophagus. Other common symptoms are: feeling that food may be trapped behind the breastbone, heartburn or a burning pain in the chest (under the breastbone), increased by bending, stooping, lying down, or eating, more likely or worse at night, relieved by antacids, nausea after eating
Untreated GERD can damage the food pipe, and contribute to Barrett’s esophagus, a risk factor for esophageal cancer, so it’s important not to ignore.
Fortunately, there is a simple, minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure that starts to have a positive impact from day one and eliminates the need for medications for GERD. LINX is easy to understand and love because it is a simple, quarter-sized device that does exactly what your failing Reflux Barrier is supposed to do — prevent stomach acid from entering your esophagus. LINX is designed to start working the moment the device is implanted.
If you’re interested in learning more, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He can help you decide if LINX is a good option for you.