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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GERD and Hiatal Hernia: Could LINX® Reflux Management System Be Right for You?

Acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion are all common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. This common problem afflicts over 20 million people every day here in the United States.

A hiatal hernia is when the stomach slips up into the chest. Hiatal hernias can worsen acid reflux because the typical sphincter mechanism in the lower esophagus is dysfunctional, and there is a mechanical disturbance of the natural flow of solid foods and liquids. Pregnancy, obesity, coughing, or constipation increase intra-abdominal pressure, which can worsen the symptoms of reflux and worsen a hiatal hernia.

Generally, hiatal hernias occur more often for patients who are overweight, women, and over 50 years old. Hiatal hernias can be diagnosed with upper endoscopy (EGD), an esophagram or upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series.

The LINX® Reflux Management System is a small and flexible band of interlined titanium beads with magnetic cores. To select the right size, the esophagus is measured with a specialized tool for all patients undergoing placement of a LINX device. First, a necklace-like tool is placed around the lower esophagus at the level of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to get the best fit for the LINX device. The measurement tool is then removed, and the LINX device is implanted, making sure the ends of the band are aligned and securely linked.

Magnetic attraction between the beads helps the lower sphincter resist opening to gastric pressures, preventing reflux of the acidic content in the stomach into the esophagus. The device is designed so that normal swallowing pressures temporarily break the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach. Due to the magnetic attraction, the device will assist in closing the lower sphincter immediately after swallowing, augmenting the lower esophageal sphincter and restoring the body’s natural barrier to reflux.

If you suffer from GERD and would like to decrease, or in some cases, completely stop taking medication for this problem, the LINX® Reflux Management System could be the perfect solution for you. Schedule an appointment at VIPSurg to learn more.

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LINX: A Small Device Getting Big Results

Most of us experience heartburn or indigestion once in a while. Sometimes it comes from overeating; other times it happens from eating or drinking something acidic or spicy which irritates the digestive tract. Frequent heartburn, however, can be a sign of a more serious disorder known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. While GERD can often be controlled with diet changes and/or medication, more severe cases require surgery. The LINX device and procedure is changing the lives of people who suffer from chronic GERD.

Doctors believe that some people suffer from GERD due to a condition called hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm muscle which separates the abdomen and chest.

The diaphragm has a small opening (hiatus) through which the esophagus passes before connecting to the stomach. With a hiatal hernia, the stomach pushes up through that opening and into the chest.

A small hiatal hernia usually doesn’t cause problems. You might never even know you have one unless your doctor discovers it when checking for another condition. A large hiatal hernia, however, can allow food and acid to back up into the esophagus, leading to heartburn.

You might think that although heartburn can be very uncomfortable and even quite painful, surgery seems like an aggressive treatment for a common condition. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of GERD can be increasingly serious.

Left untreated, GERD can cause:

  • Esophagitis – inflammation of the esophagus.
  • Esophageal stricture – the esophagus becomes narrow, making it difficult to swallow.
  • Barrett’s esophagus – the cells lining the esophagus change into cells similar to the lining of the intestine. This can develop into cancer.
  • Respiratory problems – it is possible to breathe stomach acid into the lungs, which can cause a range of problems including chest congestion, hoarseness, asthma, laryngitis, and pneumonia.

Fortunately, when changes in lifestyle, diet, and medication don’t help, there is a Actual size.Actual benefits are immeasurable.minimally invasive procedure that is having life-changing results for GERD patients. It’s called LINX. This simple ring of titanium magnets is a small device that brings big results.

LINX is easy to understand and love because it is simple. The beauty of this quarter-sized device is that it does exactly what your failing LES is supposed to do — prevent stomach acid from entering your esophagus.

Why is LINX so great?

  • Unlike other procedures to treat reflux, LINX is implanted around the outside of the LES and requires no alteration to the stomach.
  • LINX preserves normal physiological function so you can belch or vomit as needed. The titanium beads open and close to let food down, and if it needs to come up, it can.
  • Designed for a lifetime. LINX is constructed of titanium, and the permanent magnets mean LINX will be working for you for the long haul.
  • Designed for everyday life. The device will not affect airport security. And you can still have an MRI.
  • LINX is designed to start working the moment the device is implanted.

Are you ready to take back control of your digestive health? LINX is intended for patients diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and who are seeking an alternative to continuous acid suppression therapy. Are you concerned with a lifetime of medication, pharmacy visits, and potential side effects? If this sounds like you, and you live in the Las Vegas area, schedule a consultation at VIP Surg. LINX can change your life.

 

 

 

 

LINX: Treating GERD with Innovation

A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm. The diaphragm normally has a small opening for the esophagus. This opening can become the place where part of the stomach pushes through. Small hiatal hernias often cause no symptoms, while larger ones can cause pain and heartburn, leading to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment device called the LINX Reflux Management System to offer a new approach to treating GERD, a disease that is increasing at a rate of 30 percent every decade.

Think of the stomach as a mixing bowl that allows food and digestive juices to combine to begin the digestive process. The stomach has a protective lining that prevents acid in the digestive juices from eating away at the stomach muscle and causing inflammation. Unfortunately, the esophagus does not have a similar protective lining. Instead it relies on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to act as a valve to prevent acid from refluxing from the stomach into the esophagus. In the situation of a hiatal hernia, part of the stomach pushes up through the opening allowing acid to pass into the esophagus causing symptoms may include the following:

  • heartburn
  • nausea, vomiting, or retching (dry heaves)
  • burping
  • water brash, the rapid appearance of a large amount of saliva in the mouth that is stimulated by the refluxing acid

Symptoms usually are worse after meals. These symptoms may be made worse when lying flat and may resolve with sitting up or walking.

In some patients, reflux into the lower esophagus sets off nervous reflexes that can cause a cough or even spasm of the small airways within the lungs (asthma). A few patientsanatomy-archers may reflux acid droplets into the back of their throat. This acid can be inhaled or aspirated into the lung causing coughing spasms, asthma, or repeated infections of the lung including pneumonia and bronchitis. This may occur in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.

Fortunately, the innovative LINX procedure is helping with this significant health problem. This device is a series of magnets in the form of ring that is implanted around the bottom of the esophagus during a short, 40-minute laparoscopic procedure.

The ring of magnets is designed to stay closed and prevent the reflux valve from opening thereby preventing acid from the stomach move up into the esophagus. The magnets will open up the ring when people are eating to let food in much like a person’s native reflux valve.

 

Here are some things you need to know about the LINX procedure.

  • It is focused on the underlying cause of reflux disease not the side effect. Reflux disease is a result of a damaged lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
  • It is safer than the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Studies have proven that reflux disease can progress even when PPI therapy has effectively eliminated GERD symptoms. LINX is effective at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
  • A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked 100 patients for three years after their LINX surgery. That study found an overall decrease in stomach contents reaching the esophagus, fewer reflux symptoms, and a substantial reduction in PPI usage.
  • The side effects disappear over time in most cases. Initially, most patients experience some discomfort, but it typically dissipates over several weeks. In addition, the most commonly reported side effect is mild difficulty swallowing, which usually subsides over time.
  • The cost can be much less than a lifetime of PPI use: a 2010 study by Consumer Reports found once-a-day PPI use can range from $2,000 to $4,500 per year for brand name prescription PPIs.
  • This is minimally invasive and is performed as an out-patient procedure.
  • LINX is reversible and can be replaced.
  • Since the LINX band is placed around the LES, the device can be removed or replaced, if necessary.
  • This procedure is recommended for those with continued GERD symptoms under maximum therapy prescribed by a specialist.
  • LINX is not for everyone with advanced GERD. Today LINX is not approved for those with Barrett’s Esophagus or anyone suffering from esophageal cancer. It is important for everyone suffering from advanced stages of reflux disease to explore all available options before their disease progresses to the point where options are limited.

It is important to take your heartburn symptoms seriously because they are signals from your body that something is wrong. Since reflux disease is a progressive chronic condition, treating it early could prevent you from having to consider surgery later on.

As the first LINX trained surgeons in Las Vegas, Dr. Shawn Tsuda and Dr. Heidi Ryan at VIP SURG are ready to help you fight back against gastroesophageal reflux disease. Schedule a consultation to learn more.

 

 

The Link Between Seasonal Allergies and Reflux

While many may think of seasonal allergies happening in the spring along with blooming flowers, fall can also be a difficult time for those who are allergic. Ragweed, dust, mold, mildew, and the removal of fall crops are just some of the possible fall triggers for allergy sufferers. What many people don’t know is that allergies can be a big issue for people dealing with acid reflux disease. Separate from food allergies, seasonal allergies can also play a role in exacerbating the symptoms of acid reflux.

The link between seasonal allergies and acid reflux disease is that as allergic response becomes more active, one has more nasal drip, and more nasal drip leads to more acid, and that acid can then reflux up into the nasal passages and make the whole cycle even worse. In addition, one of the ways that seasonal allergies can aggravate acid reflux disease is the pressure from coughing or sneezing. This pressure can temporarily weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and allow stomach contents to splash into the esophagus. In order to get the added acid reflux pain under control, suffers also need to get the drainage, sneezing and coughing under control.

The first line of defense in the seasonal allergy arsenal is generally the use of antihistamines. Medications provide a way to lessen the reaction the body has to the histamines produced by allergies. These medications can help many people deal with their allergies without any further treatments.

Senior man with reflux

If you do need antihistamines in the pollen season, remember that they can dehydrate and cause constipation. The latter is also a huge reflux trigger. Be sure to drink plenty of water and gradually increase your fiber intake to counteract any unpleasant side effects. You don’t want to trade one reflux trigger for another.

There are a few things that you can do this time of year to help lessen your increased acid reflux symptoms due to allergies:

  • Even though the weather this time of year can be gorgeous, keep the windows closed in at least one room of your house. Spending time in this room throughout the day will give your entire bodily system a break from the environmental stress being placed on it.
  • Shower and change clothes after working or being outside. Most aller
    gens cannot be seen. Especially on a windy day, just assume that if you have been outside, you are wearing allergens when you come inside.
  • Be proactive with your reflux medication and your allergy medication this time of year. Reflux comes in waves. One of the best ways to manage reflux is to understand ahead of time when your reflux may be troublesome and manage accordingly. An antihistamine can be helpful. It works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. This medication can also slow down your runny nose and nasal drip whichin turn can help your reflux symptoms.
  • Do not experiment with new foods. Keep your eating very simple and reflux friendly until at least the first frost in your area.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Allergens can be found in our environment and also in raw fruits and some vegetables. These same foods can often be better tolerated cooked. When foods are heated, the proteins are distorted and the immune system no longer recognizes the food as a problem.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are suffering from acid reflux. Schedule a consultation at VIP Surg. We can help find the right treatment for you.

 

Normal Heartburn or GERD?

Acid reflux is a serious disorder that can and must be treated to prevent symptoms and stave off potentially life-threatening consequences. Known medically and commercially as GERD, the acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease, repeated bathing of the soft tissues of the esophagus with corrosive stomach acid can seriously damage them and even cause esophageal cancer, which is often fatal.

Acid reflux is more than just a nuisance. It involves the backward flow of stomach acid into the tissues above it. It results when the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, fails to close tightly enough to prevent the contents of the stomach from moving up instead of down. Sometimes the upper sphincter, between the esophagus and the throat, malfunctions as well.

Contrary to what many believe, heartburn is but one of the many symptoms of GERD, and failure to recognize the others when heartburn is not among them can result in harmful untreated reflux. In addition to indigestion, GERD can cause:

  • persistent dry cough
  • sore throat
  • frequent throat clearing
  • hoarseness
  • burping or hiccups
  • bloating
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a sensation of a lump in the throat

If, when faced with such an otherwise unexplainable symptom, your doctor fails to thinkhand holding stethoscope with GERD word. medical concept of GERD as a possible reason, you might suggest it yourself. An examination of the esophagus may be the only way to find out if someone without obvious heartburn has acid reflux but doesn’t know it.

One characteristic often associated with acid reflux — being overweight, especially with abdominal obesity — largely explains why the condition has become so common in Western countries. Someone with a body mass index in the overweight range is almost twice as likely to have GERD as a person of normal weight. Losing weight is one of the best ways to find relief without having to rely on medication. Other ways to relieve GERD symptoms include:

  • quitting smoking
  • limiting alcohol
  • avoiding carbonated drinks
  • eating five or six small meals a day rather than one or two big ones
  • avoiding eating within three hours of bedtime
  • Raising the head of the bed by six inches or more

If you suffer from GERD and are looking for treatment, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. Among other procedures, Dr. Tsuda specializes in a revolutionary treatment for GERD called LINX. Find out if it’s right for you.

 

Eliminate the Need for Potentially Harmful Acid Reflux Meds

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 anatomy-demon-3factor 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.