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:
- Bulging of the top of the stomach up into the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
- Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
- Delayed stomach emptying
Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:
- 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.