When GERD is the Word – What to Consider when Diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Many people experience acid reflux from time to time – that feeling commonly thought of as heartburn or acid indigestion. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week. While most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms
  • Take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week

When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach. Then the sphincter closes again.

If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.

Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include:

  • Obesity
  • Bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • Pregnancy
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
  • Delayed stomach emptying

Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:

  • Smoking
  • Eating large meals or eating late at night
  • Eating certain foods (triggers) such as fatty or fried foods
  • Drinking certain beverages, such as alcohol or coffee
  • Taking certain medications, such as aspirin

Your doctor is likely to recommend that you first try lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. If you don’t experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor might recommend prescription medication or surgery.

The options include:

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid 
  • Medications to reduce acid production known as H-2-receptor blockers
  • Medications that block acid production and heal the esophagus known as proton pump inhibitors
  • Medication that helps strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. 

GERD can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, but if these don’t help or you wish to avoid long-term medication use, consider the revolutionary LINX device. This device consists of a ring of tiny magnetic beads which is wrapped around the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the beads is strong enough to keep the junction closed to refluxing acid but weak enough to allow food to pass through when swallowing. The LINX device can be implanted using minimally invasive surgery.

As the first LINX-trained surgeons in Las Vegas and as the first digestive institute in the area to offer the only FDA-approved treatment for GERD, Dr. Shawn Tsuda and Dr. Heidi Ryan at VIPSurg are ready to help you fight back against gastroesophageal reflux disease. Call  702-487-6000 to schedule an appointment. 

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The Family that Plays Together Gets Healthy Together

Even though it gets tougher to find time for ourselves when we become parents, exercise remains just as important as it ever was. In fact, with little ones watching us as an example, exercise becomes even more important. If we as adults wish to create a future full of happy, healthy, disease-free adults for our kids, it’s time we start practicing what we preach.

Our kids model our behavior. If we want our kids to eat well, we need to eat well. If we want them to exercise, we need to exercise.

This modeling creates a culture of wellness in the home. In this environment, children learn that healthy habits are a positive way of life, not punishment for Mom and Dad for eating too much delicious food. One great way to be good exercise role models for your children is to find exercise activities you can do as a family. Here are some suggestions to get you started: 

  • Take a walk. Walking is a wonderful family activity. There are so many benefits to walking, and the whole family can participate (even the baby in her stroller and the family dog too). Whether you head into town or just cruise the neighborhood, building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that it won’t get put off.
  • Jump rope. Jumping rope is a kid-friendly exercise that is great for the whole family. In fact, kids usually dominate at this exercise once they get the hang of it thanks to their lower center of gravity. Just ten minutes of jump rope is enough to get the blood flowing, and with more than one person, it’s fun to learn all kinds of fun jumps.
  • Try structured exercise.There are many types of more structured exercises that can be done as a family. Some families like to take martial arts or yoga classes together. 
  • Try roller blading or biking. Head out as a family unit to try your hand at skating or biking. Both can be great exercise activities that are fun for any active family.
  • Get to work in the garden. Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you’re planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids. 

When you’re planning your exercise routine, keep in mind that everyone in the family
needs to do this. Try to find activities that are fun and exhilarating for the entire group!

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